Averill Roams Left Field for the Indians All-Time Team
By Ronnie Tellalian
Earl Averill served as Cleveland’s center fielder from 1929-1938. He is the Indians all-time leader in several offensive categories. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1975 and his jersey number 3 was retired by the Cleveland Indians. Nicknamed the Earl of Snohomish after his home town of Snohomish, Washington, Averill hit his way into Indians lore. He is one of the Indians All-Time greats.
Left Fielder: Earl Averill
Earl began his Major League career with a bang. On April 16, 1928, Averill stepped up to the plate for the first time in his major league career. He blasted a pitch over the fence to become only the sixth player, and first Indian, to hit a home run in their first Major League at bat. Had there been a Rookie-of-the-Year Award in 1929 Averill may very well have won it. He batted .332 in is freshman campaign with 110 runs, 198 hits and 18 home runs.
There would be no sophomore slump for Averill. In 1930 he hit 19 home runs, 119 RBI and upped his average to .339. The next year he managed to hit even better. He batted .333 and scored 140 runs. He added a great deal of power with 32 home runs and a career high 143 RBI. The season was capped off with a fourth place finish in the MVP race, finishing behind Lou Gehrig and Al Simmons and just ahead of Babe Ruth.
From 1932-1935 Averill would score 100+ runs three times, hit 93 home runs and drive in 100+ runs twice. He batted .304 over that span and made three All-Star teams. He experienced a bit of a self-induced slump in 1935. On July 1st Averill was batting .298 with 10 home runs, on pace for another solid season. On that day he was lighting firecrackers with his family as part of an Independence Day celebrations. One went off in his hand and he suffered severe lacerations. He missed two weeks of the season and was not the same hitter when he returned. He finished the year with just 19 home runs and his average dropped to .288.
The 1936 season would be a career year for Averill. At age 34 he was in the years where he should be starting to decline, but the Tribe center fielder hit better than ever. He led the league with 232 hits and 15 doubles. He scored 136 runs, hit 28 home runs, and drove in 126 batters. He finished second in the batting race with a .378 average and made his fourth consecutive All-Star game. He finished third in the MVP voting behind winner Lou Gehrig.
Averill scored 100 or more runs and 90 or more RBI in each of the next two seasons. He hit a combined 35 home runs and batted .313 in addition to making two more All-Star games. He was traded to the Tigers part way through the 1939 season and retired in 1941.
Earl Averill is the Indians all-time leader in runs scored with 1154, RBI with 1084 and triples with 121. He is third all-time in hits and his 226 home runs stood as the Indians record for over 50 years until it was broken by Albert Belle in 1996. When his number 3 was retired in 1975 he was just the third Indians added to that exclusive club.