Derrill Burnham Pratt
Born: January 10, 1888 in Walhalla, S.C.
Died: September 30, 1977 in Texas City, Texas
Debut: 1912 | Pos: 2B
H: 5'11" | W: 175 | B: R | T: R
>> Visit the Del Pratt biography on Baseball Almanac for complete statistics.
Del Pratt gained notoriety as a star running back for the University of Alabama. However, Pratt decided to make a run at playing baseball professionally and found himself in the minor leagues for 2 years before making it the major league level.
Pratt signed with the St. Louis Browns and proved to be a versatile player on the field. In his career, he played second base, shortstop, third base and in the outfield. He earned a reputation for being a hard-nosed player on the field and someone who would argue with his coaches, managers and owners off the field. Pratt even filed a lawsuit against the owner of St. Louis Browns when he suggested that the team had let up in a game. The suit was settled out of court -- in Pratt's favor.
In 1916, Pratt hit .267 with five home runs and drove in 103 runs. His RBI total led the American League.
Yankees' rookie manager Miller Huggins was so impressed with Pratt that he traded pitcher Urban Shocker to the Browns before the 1918 season to acquire the second baseman. The move was extremely unpopular with New York fans and press, but Pratt solidified a position that hadn't had a regular everyday player for some time.
After the 1920 season, the Yankees traded Pratt to the Red Sox in a deal that brought Waite Hoyt to New York. Pratt had decided to retire from baseball and become the coach of the University of Michigan's baseball team. He had received help in acquiring the job from Branch Rickey. The Red Sox were persistent and Pratt agreed to come out of retirement.
He made his presence felt with the team, hitting .324 in 1921 and driving in 102 runs.
Pratt finished his career with the Detroit Tigers, playing there in the 1923 and 1924 seasons. Stories say that Ty Cobb was influential in getting Pratt to become a member of the Tigers because he was impressed with Pratt's abilities.
ROUGH AND TUMBLE
Pratt had quite a reputation for his temper and his willingness to fight anyone who insulted him. One of the stories of that temper came from his time in St. Louis. During the IntraCity Exhibition games between the Browns and the Cardinals, Pratt is described as becoming quite angry over an insult hurled at him from the Cardinals dugout.
An angry Pratt ran into the Cardinals' dugout and punched out rookie Zinn Beck. After that, the entire Cardinals team decided to defend their player.
When the fight had ended, Pratt was unharmed except for a couple of bruises. The fight did earn him a suspension that forced him to miss two games of the exhibition series.
On Sept. 5, 1917, Browns owner Phil Ball made an accusation that some of the team's players were purposely playing poorly to be able to escape from the team and its manager Fielder Jones.
His harsh comments included the following quote: "Every $1000 I lose on the Browns this season will cost the ballplayers $100. Salaries will be cut next season," he said.
Three days later, Pratt and teammate Doc Lavan each filed lawsuits against Ball asking for $50,000 in damages and accusing Ball of slander.
In the end, Pratt and Lavan got their wish. They were both traded during the winter.
Del Pratt was the last out in two no-hitters. On July 4, 1912, he was the last man Detroit's George Mullin faced. On April 14, 1917, he was the last out for Eddie Cicotte of the White Sox.