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Clark Griffith Baseball

Clark Griffith of the Chicago White Sox at the West Side Grounds in 1902.

Clark Calvin Griffith (November 20, 1869 - October 27, 1955), nicknamed "the Old Fox", was a Major League Baseball pitcher (1891 - 1914), manager (1901 - 1920) and team owner (1920 - 1955).

Griffith entered the American Association in 1891, pitching 226 1/3 innings and winning 14 games for the St. Louis Browns and Boston Reds. He began the following season with the Chicago Colts, and in 1894 began a string of six consecutive seasons with 20 or more victories, compiling a 21-14 record and 4.92 ERA. Griffith lowered his ERA over the following years to a low of 1.88 in 1898, the lowest mark in the league.

Baseball Hall of Fame
Clark Griffith
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the Baseball
Hall of Fame

Griffith won 20 games for his 7th and final time in 1901 as a member of the Chicago White Stockings in the nascent American League; it was also the first year he assumed managerial duties. His success extended beyond his own play as the White Stockings won the AL title with an 83-53 record.

Griffith phased out of playing in the following years while taking the managerial helm of the New York Highlanders (1903 - 1908), Cincinnati Reds (1909 - 1911) and Washington Senators (1912 - 1920). He finished his managerial career with a 1491-1367 record. His 1491 wins ranked 18th all-time as of 2004.

Griffith owned the Washington Senators from 1920 until his death in 1955, during which time he became known for his dislike of night games and also for his faith in young players. He twice entrusted 27-year-old players to manage his teams (Bucky Harris in 1924 and Joe Cronin in 1933). Griffith's wagers appeared to pay off, as the Senators won the pennant in both years under their new youthful managers.

One of Griffith's most trusted friends and respected scouts was Joe Engel, who he placed in charge of the Chattanooga Lookouts at Engel Stadium. Engel was the first to scout Cronin for the club and said, "I knew I was watching a great player. I bought Cronin at a time he was hitting .221. When I told Clark Griffith what I had done, he screamed, "You paid $7,500 for that bum? Well, you didn't buy him for me. You bought him for yourself. He's not my ballplayer - he's yours. You keep him and don't either you or Cronin show up at the ballpark." Cronin became the best player on the World Series winning Senators club in the early 1930s and even married Griffith's niece.

When Griffith died, ownership of the club passed into the hands of his adopted son, Calvin Griffith, who led the charge to have the club moved to Minnesota and become the Twins.

Clark Griffith was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1946.

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Preceded by:
First Manager
Chicago White Sox Manager
Succeeded by:
Nixey Callahan
Preceded by:
Wilbert Robinson
New York Highlanders Manager
Succeeded by:
Kid Elberfeld
Preceded by:
John Ganzel
Cincinnati Reds Manager
Succeeded by:
Hank O'Day
Preceded by:
Jimmy McAleer
Washington Senators Manager
Succeeded by:
George McBride