Nice Guys Can Finish First: The Nice Story Of Mel Ott

Bleacher Report Senior Writer IOctober 17, 2008

Mel Ott is probably the greatest player to put on a Giants uniform and one of the good guys in baseball. The Gretna, LA native was a small slugger who played outfield well and could steal some bases.

After a while, towns in New York would be called "Ottville." Manager Leo Durocher once said "Take a look at No. 4 there. A nicer guy never drew breath."

But Ott is more well known for his incredible play.

He made his debut in 1926 with the New York Giants. As a rookie, he had four RBI and a .383 batting average. He didn't play very much in 1927 or 1928. In 1929, he proved himself. He had 18 homers, 77 RBI and a .326 batting average. Low home run and RBI totals for Ott, but nonetheless encouraging.

In 1929, he exploded! He had 42 homers, drove in 151 runs, scored 138, and had 113 walks. This was a sign of what was to come.

The next year, his homer and RBI totals were down when he hit 25 homers and drove in 120 and he hit .350.

In 1931, 1932 and 1933 he continued his mastery of National League pitchers. He hit home-run totals of 38, 23 and 35. He had RBI totals of 115, 125, and 103; and he had batting averages of .292, .318 and .283.

In 1934, Ott led the league in homers and RBI and was selected to an All-Star Game. Two years later, the Giants got a National League Pennant. Ott also led the league in slugging and was up there with the leaders in total bases, RBI, walks, and on-base percentage. Despite all of that, the Giants got crushed by the Yankees in the World Series.

1937 was the same as 1934. Ott had 31 home runs, hit .294, and the Giants won the Pennant, only to lose to the New York Yankees again, four games to one.

In 1938, he had another great year. He had 36 home runs, 116 RBI, and a .311 batting average. But people knew he wasn't at his best anymore.

He actually played 10 more seasons but didn't really hit the same. He still did well with home run totals above 19 in eight of 10 seasons, RBI totals above 70 in seven of 10 seasons and batting average totals of .285 in seven of 10 seasons.

In 1946, he got hurt after just 31 games and in 1947, he was 0-for-4 and then decided to retire.

After his career, Ott moved into the Giants' front office, where he was running the farm system along with Carl Hubbell.

He took a job managing Oakland in the Pacific Coast League in 1951. That year, he was inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame. He died seven years later in a car accident.

In his marvelous career, he had 521 homers, 1,860 RBI and a .304 batting average.