Lewis Robert Wilson
Born: April 26, 1900 in Ellwood City, Penn.
Died: November 23, 1948 in Baltimore
Debut: 1923 | Pos: OF
H: 5'6" | W: 190 | B: R | T: R
>> Visit the Hack Wilson biography on Baseball Almanac for complete statistics.
It's not often that someone who played for the Chicago Cubs owns one of the biggest records in baseball.
In 1930, a Cubs outfielder set a record that even Babe Ruth couldn't touch. That year, Hack Wilson drove in 190 RBIs. The record is amazing, yet, so little known.
In fact, the number is so amazing that Major League Baseball credited Hack Wilson with another RBI in 1999 pushing his total up to 191. The additional RBI was credited to a scoring error found in a baseball boxscore from that year.
When Juan Gonzalez, playing for Texas at that time, stepped up to bat in the 1998 All-Star game, he had driven in 101 RBIs in the first half of the season. Only one other person, Hank Greenberg with 103 in 1935, had driven in more before the All-Star break. Greenberg and Rodriguez are the only two players in the history of the game to have more than 100 RBIs at the break.
On first look, Wilson was probably someone most fans would not expect to produce that much offense. He stood only 5-foot-6, weighed 190 pounds and wore a 51/2 shoe. He also didn't have many fans in Chicago. Those at the game would throw lemons on the field when Wilson came up to bat. They wanted to remind the Cubs outfielder of the fly ball he had dropped in the previous year's World Series.
His error had helped to keep the Cubs from winning the world title. The Cubs fans of that time would have thrown more lemons if they would have known that the Chicago team would not win another World Series after winning in 1908.
Wilson, like others, got some help from baseball's top officials. Major League Baseball decided it needed to attract more fans to the parks in 1930. The nation was in the midst of the Depression and owners were afraid fans were going to stop coming to the parks.
So, they juiced up the ball. That's right, and they admitted to doing it. What it meant was an unparalleled year for offense. In fact, only three regular starters in all of baseball hit below .250 that season. The change in the game propelled Wilson to 56 home runs, his 191 RBIs and a healthy .356 batting average.
For many players, a season such as that would have propelled them on to even greater achievements.
That season was the beginning of the end for Wilson. He was out of the game by 1935 and he died, with little money, in 1948.
He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1979.