Billy Herman

William Jennings Bryan Herman (July 7, 1909 – September 5, 1992) was an American second baseman and manager in Major League Baseball (MLB) during the 1930s and 1940s. Known for his stellar defense and consistent batting, Herman still holds many National League (NL) defensive records for second basemen and was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1975.

Billy Herman
Second baseman / Manager
Born: (1909-07-07)July 7, 1909
New Albany, Indiana, U.S.
Died: September 5, 1992(1992-09-05) (aged 83)
West Palm Beach, Florida, U.S.
Batted: Right
Threw: Right
MLB debut
August 29, 1931, for the Chicago Cubs
Last MLB appearance
August 1, 1947, for the Pittsburgh Pirates
MLB statistics
Batting average.304
Home runs47
Runs batted in839
Managerial record189–274
Winning %.408
As player

As manager

Career highlights and awards
Member of the National
Baseball Hall of Fame
Election methodVeterans Committee


Early life

Born in New Albany, Indiana, in 1909, and named after William Jennings Bryan, the three-time Presidential candidate and statesman of the turn of the 20th century,[1] Herman attended New Albany High School.

Baseball career

Herman broke into the majors in 1931 with the Chicago Cubs and asserted himself as a star the following season, 1932, by hitting .314 and scoring 102 runs. His first at-bat was memorable. Facing Cincinnati Reds pitcher Si Johnson, Herman chopped a pitch into the back of home plate, which then bounced up and hit Herman in the back of the head, knocking him out.[2] A fixture in the Chicago lineup over the next decade, Herman was a consistent hitter and solid producer. He regularly hit .300 or higher (and as high as .341 in 1935) and drove in a high of 93 runs in 1936. He also hit 57 doubles in both 1935 and 1936.

A 1933 Goudey baseball card of Herman.

After a sub-standard offensive year in 1940, Herman was traded to the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1941. He had one of his finest offensive season in 1943, when he batted .330 with a .398 on-base percentage and 100 runs driven in.

Herman missed the 1944 and 1945 seasons to serve in World War II, but returned to play in 1946 with the Dodgers and Boston Braves (after being traded mid-season). At 37, he was considered prime managerial material by the new owners of the Pittsburgh Pirates. On September 30, 1946, Herman was traded to Pittsburgh with three marginal players (outfielder Stan Wentzel, pitcher Elmer Singleton and infielder Whitey Wietelmann) for third baseman Bob Elliott and catcher Hank Camelli. Herman was promptly named playing manager of the 1947 Pirates, but he was aghast at the cost—Elliott—the Pirates had paid for him. "Why, they've gone and traded the whole team on me", he said.[3] Elliott won the 1947 NL Most Valuable Player award and led Boston to the 1948 National League pennant. Herman's 1947 Pirates lost 92 games and finished tied for seventh in the NL, and he resigned before the season's final game. (His last appearance as a Major League player was on August 1 of that year.)

Herman then managed in the minor leagues and became a Major League coach with the Dodgers (1952–57) and Braves (now based in Milwaukee) (1958–59)—serving on five National League pennant winners in eight seasons. Then he moved to the American League (AL) as the third-base coach of the Boston Red Sox for five years (1960–64), before managing the Red Sox to lackluster records in 1965 and 1966; his 1965 Boston club lost 100 games. After his firing by the Red Sox in September 1966, he coached for the California Angels (1967) and San Diego Padres (1978–79) and served in player development roles with the Padres and Oakland Athletics.

Herman finished his 1,922-game big-league career with a .304 batting average, 1,163 runs scored, 2,345 hits, 486 doubles, 82 triples, 47 home runs, 839 runs batted in, 737 bases on balls and 428 strikeouts. Defensively, he recorded an overall .968 fielding percentage. He won four NL pennants (1932, 1935, 1938, and 1941) but no World Series championships as a player (although he was a coach on the 1955 World Series champion Brooklyn Dodgers). His record as a Major League manager was 189-274 (.408). Herman holds the NL records for most putouts in a season by a second baseman and led the league in putouts seven times. He also shares the Major League record for most hits on opening day, with five, set April 14, 1936.

Later life

Herman in 1978

Herman moved to Palm Beach Gardens, Florida in 1968. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1975. He died of cancer in 1992.[4]

In 2013, the Bob Feller Act of Valor Award honored Herman as one of 37 Baseball Hall of Fame members for his service in the United States Navy during World War II.[5]


Herman's granddaughter is Cheri Daniels, wife of former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels.[6]

Managerial record

TeamYearRegular seasonPostseason
GamesWonLostWin %FinishWonLostWin %Result
PIT1947 1536192.399resigned
PIT total1536192.39900
BOS1964 2201.0008th in AL
BOS1965 16262100.3839th in AL
BOS1966 1466482.438fired
BOS total310128182.41300

See also


  1. Joseph Wancho, Billy Herman. Society for American Baseball Research Biography Project
  2. Mackin, Bob, "The Unofficial Guide to Baseball's Most Unusual Records", Greystone Books, 2004.
  3. Boston Braves Historical Association Newsletter, Vol. 19, No. 3, Autumn 2010
  4. "Billy Herman, 83; Ex-Cub and Dodger Was Hall of Famer". The New York Times. September 7, 1992. Retrieved October 30, 2013.
  5. "WWII HOF Players – Act of Valor Award".
  6. "First Lady Janet Holcomb: Home". 7 October 2020.

Further reading

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