13 May

think small

Hughie Critz, a Starkville native who played his final big league game in 1935, holds a career record among Mississippi-born players that is truly unassailable. Think small for a moment, as in small ball. Critz, an infielder who batted .268 and was an excellent defender, racked up 187 sacrifice bunts over his 12-year career. Critz had 20 or more sacs in a season six times, including 24 with Cincinnati in 1926, when he batted .270, scored 96 runs, drove in 79 and finished second in the MVP voting. Ellisville’s Buddy Myer, a standout infielder who also played in the ’20s and ’30s, is second on the all-Mississippi sac list with 151, and third is Weir’s Roy Oswalt, a pitcher, at 106. Oswalt last played in 2013. Taylorsville’s Billy Hamilton, an outfielder, is the active leader among Mississippians with 39 sacs in seven seasons, one more than McComb native Jarrod Dyson, an outfielder who has played 10 years. The all-time record for career sacrifice bunts (or hits, as they used to be called) is one of the game’s unbreakable milestones. Hall of Famer Eddie Collins, who played from 1906-30, gave himself up 512 times. That’s 120 more sacs than the next highest total (Jake Daubert’s) and 404 more than the active career leader (Clayton Kershaw). That says a lot about how the game has evolved. Speed is still important, but small ball – bunting, in particular – has largely gone out of fashion, probably never to return. Critz’s record is safe.

Mike Christensen

Mike Christensen

A long-time sports fan and 30-year newspaper veteran muses on all things baseball in Mississippi. Contact: mwchristens@gmail.com
Mike Christensen

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