Baseball Hall of Fame
Born: Dec 25, 1927
A twelve-time American League All-Star, Nellie Fox led the league in fewest strikeouts eleven times. With the 150-pound "Mighty Mite" Fox at second, the White Sox ranked first or second in team fielding for ten straight years. Fox also hit .300 or better six times, and led or tied the league in hits four times.
When he was 16, Nellie talked his parents into letting him try out at the Philadelphia A's wartime training camp. Connie Mack spotted the youngster's drive and talent, and Fox spent the next two summers playing first base and the outfield in the A's system. After a year in the military, the A's brought him up in 1949, and he played 88 games at second behind Pete Suder, struggling to hit .255. Swapped to the White Sox for catcher Joe Tipton, Fox started a 14-year career in Chicago, establishing himself as the top AL second baseman of his era.
His success was partly due to his insistent drive to excel. Thirty-year baseball veteran Paul Richards, who managed the White Sox in the 1950s, said, "I've never seen anybody who wanted to play more than Fox did. In Spring Training you had to run him off the field to get him to rest. I mean literally run him off the field."
Fox set the record for consecutive games played at second base, 798. Only two players in history have played more games at the keystone, and only Bill Mazeroski turned more double plays at second base than Fox. He holds major league records for the most years leading the league in singles, with eight, and the most years doing it consecutively, with seven. He rarely whiffed; only Joe Sewell and Lyle Waner have bested his strikeout per at-bat ratio.
Fox paired in keystone duty with two of the best: Chico Carrasquel and Luis Aparicio. No other second baseman ever led the league more frequently in double plays. He also routinely led the league in fielding average. Fox's league-leading marks in chances (eight times) and putouts (ten times) are records for second basemen.
The high point of Fox's career was 1959, when he and Aparicio led the Sox to their first World Series since the "Back Sox" scandal of 1919. Although Fox didn't top the league in a single offensive category, he was voted Most Valuable Player by the Baseball Writers' Association. Teammates Aparicio and Early Wynn finished second and third. The "Go-Go Sox" batted only .250, and five of the other seven teams in the league scored more runs, but they led the league in triples and stolen bases and got the runs when they needed them.
Brought over to Houston in 1964, Fox hit .265 in 133 games as a Colt. 45 then served as a player/coach in 1965 while mentoring Joe Morgan to take over the second base job. Nellie stroked the game-winning hit in the 12-inning exhibition that opened the Astrodome on April 9, 1965. Fox was always seen with a chaw of tobacco in his mouth. Sadly, he passed away from cancer in 1975 and was posthumously elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1997.