Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sunday School: Phillies History Lesson 90

Freddy Leach was a laser-armed, athletic outfielder, for the Phillies from 1923-1928. Leach, a Missouri native, was a key offensive contributor for Philadelphia during some rough times.

Leach broke into the Majors in 1923 at age 25 and played in 52 games in a backup role. As a rookie, Leach batted .260 with a homerun and 16 RBI in 108 plate appearances.

The lefty batting Leach spent the following two seasons splitting time in the minors and as a reserve player with the big league club, but won a full-time starting position in the Phillies' outfield in 1926, which he would hold down for three seasons.

Leach's best offensive season with the Phillies came in 1928. In 145 games that year, Leach posted a .304 batting average with a career high 13 homeruns, 96 RBI and 83 runs scored.

During a stretch when the Phillies were stuck in a rut of losing seasons, without much reason for fans to get excited, Leach was a bright spot in the lineup, as he became a .300-plus hitter in four consecutive seasons.

Primarily a left fielder, Leach excelled on the defensive side as well. In 1927, Leach led the National League with 27 outfield assists. The following season, he nailed 29 runners on the bases.

Unfortunately for Leach, his offensive and defensive advancements earned him a ticket out of town. Following the 1928 season, Leach was traded to the New York Giants for pitcher Lefty O'Doul and $20,000. O'Doul promptly proved this to be a great deal for the Phillies by winning the National League batting title while setting the NL record for hits in a single season, which still stands, in his first year with Philadelphia.

As a member of the Giants, Leach continued to be productive, with a .310 batting average in 368 games over three seasons with New York.

Prior to the 1932 season, Leach's contract was sold to the Boston Braves for $10,000. Leech finished out his playing career in Boston. During his lone season as a Brave, a knee cap injury forced his retirement to his farm in Idaho. He passed away in 1981 at age 84.

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