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Rabbit Maranville was the class clown of baseball: known for his on the field as well as his off the field antics, he was never one without a joke up his sleeve. A remarkable fielder both at shortstop and second base, Maranville's consistency and longevity (10,000 at-bats!) ensured him a shrine in the Hall Of Fame. Walter James Vincent Maranville was born November 11, 1891, in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Rabbit (who got his nickname from his excellent leaping ability and larger-than-average ears) played his first game on September 10, 1912. In 1914, Maranville (a lifetime .256 hitter) was batting cleanup for the last place Boston Braves. Then in July, the team began heating up: winning game after game, and eventually winning the pennant, going 34-10 over the final stretch. The Braves' phenomenal luck continued right into the World Series, when they swept Connie Mack's Philadelphia Athletics, earning them the nickname the "Miracle Boston Braves". That year Maranville finished 2nd in the MVP voting, and he would finish in the top 10 in votes 5 times over his 23 year career. To celebrate their victory, the Braves went on a vaudeville tour of the East Coast. While demonstrating a steal, Maranville accidentally slid into the orchestra pit, breaking his leg (the first of 3 times this occurs.)

From 1914 to 1919, Maranville led the National League in putouts every year except 1918, where he served in the Navy during World War I. In 1921, he was traded to the rivaled Pittsburgh Pirates, where he was shifted to second base and continued to excel in the field.

Maranville was always a delight to watch on the field: he would pantomime anyone on the field deserving ridicule, and frequently had an extra pair of glasses on hand for a shortsighted umpire. Pictures of him around the Internet often show him at his goofiest, hamming it up for the camera. A fan favorite on the field, he was also a notoriously funny drunk off of it, swallowing goldfish, playing the banjo, and taking on all sorts of outrageous bets.

Not especially known for power, Maranville set a major league record in 1922 by batting 672 times without hitting a home run. Of Maranville's 28 lifetime home runs, 22 were inside the park jobs. In 1924, Maranville was traded to the Chicago Cubs and given the job of player-manager. However, his alcoholism had caught up with him, and he was relieved of his duties midseason, with the Cubs in last place. He spent the next few years moving from team to team (breaking his leg again in 1925), always helping out in the field. In 1929 he returned to his first team, the Boston Braves, and continued to be one of the league's best infielders. In 1933 he broke his leg sliding into second and never recovered. He retired in 1935, the all-time leader among shortstops in putouts, and a top 3 finisher in chances and assists.

Maranville continued to play and manage in the minors until 1938, when he settled down to retirement full-time, which he spent running the summer sandlot baseball programs for the New York Journal-American. Rabbit Maranville passed away January 5, 1954, in New York City. 3 months after his death, he was elected posthumously to the Major League Baseball Hall Of Fame.

Lifetime Statistics

 YEAR   TEAM   G    AB    R    H   D   T  HR  RBI  SB CS  BB   K   BA
 1912 BSN NL  26    86    8   18   2   0   0    8   1      9  14 .209
 1913 BSN NL 143   571   68  141  13   8   2   48  25     68  62 .247
 1914 BSN NL 156   586   74  144  23   6   4   78  28     45  56 .246
 1915 BSN NL 149   509   51  124  23   6   2   43  18 12  45  65 .244
 1916 BSN NL 155   604   79  142  16  13   4   38  32 15  50  69 .235
 1917 BSN NL 142   561   69  146  19  13   3   43  27     40  47 .260
 1918 BSN NL  11    38    3   12   0   1   0    3   0      4   0 .316
 1919 BSN NL 131   480   44  128  18  10   5   43  12     36  23 .267
 1920 BSN NL 134   493   48  131  19  15   1   43  14 11  28  24 .266
 1921 PIT NL 153   612   90  180  25  12   1   70  25 12  47  38 .294
 1922 PIT NL 155   672  115  198  26  15   0   63  24 13  61  43 .295
 1923 PIT NL 141   581   78  161  19   9   1   41  14 11  42  34 .277
 1924 PIT NL 152   594   62  158  33  20   2   71  18 14  35  53 .266
 1925 CHC NL  75   266   37   62  10   3   0   23   6  5  29  20 .233
 1926 BRO NL  78   234   32   55   8   5   0   24   7     26  24 .235
 1927 STL NL   9    29    0    7   1   0   0    0   0      2   2 .241
 1928 STL NL 112   366   40   88  14  10   1   34   3     36  27 .240
 1929 BSN NL 146   560   87  159  26  10   0   55  13     47  33 .284
 1930 BSN NL 142   558   85  157  26   8   2   43   9     48  23 .281
 1931 BSN NL 145   562   69  146  22   5   0   33   9     56  34 .260
 1932 BSN NL 149   571   67  134  20   4   0   37   4     46  28 .235
 1933 BSN NL 143   478   46  104  15   4   0   38   2     36  34 .218
 1935 BSN NL  23    67    3   10   2   0   0    5   0      3   3 .149
 CAREER     2670 10078 1255 2605 380 177  28  884 291 93 839 756 .258
* Bold denotes led league.

Sources

  • TheBaseballPage.com - http://www.thebaseballpage.com/past/pp/maranvillerabbit/default.htm
  • Baseball-Reference.com - http://www.baseball-reference.com/m/maranvillera01.shtml
  • BaseballLibrary.com - http://www.pubdim.net/baseballlibrary/ballplayers/M/ranville_Rabbit.stm

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