Foxx sets modern mark with six-walk game

Part of the INSIDE PITCH series
Written by: Craig Muder

He was the successor to Babe Ruth as the game’s most feared slugger. And like Ruth, he often had a future Hall of Famer protecting him in the lineup.

But Jimmie Foxx did something even the Bambino never accomplished when he walked six times in one game.

On June 16, 1938, St. Louis Browns pitchers walked Foxx six times – in the first, third, fourth, seventh, eighth and ninth innings. Joe Cronin, another future Hall of Famer hitting fifth in the Boston lineup while protecting Foxx in the cleanup spot, had four hits and four RBI in the Red Sox’s 12-8 win.

All four of Cronin’s hits followed Foxx walks.

The previous Modern Era (post 1900) walks mark of five in one game was set by the Athletics’ Max Bishop on April 29, 1929 and tied by the Giants’ Mel Ott on Oct. 5 of the same year. Bishop matched the mark in 1930 and Ott did the same in 1933.

The Associated Press reported the day after Foxx’s six walks that the pre-1901 mark of six walks in one game was set by Walt Wilmot of the Chicago Colts (soon to be the Cubs) in 1891.

“I had been having trouble with my eyes,” said Hall of Fame pitcher Lefty Gomez of facing Foxx. “One day, my glasses fogged up while I was pitching but when I cleaned them and looked at the plate and saw Foxx clearly, it frightened me so much that I never wore them again.”

Foxx’s six walks also helped him tie a big league single-game standard for plate appearances without an official at-bat. Both the Cardinals’ Miller Huggins in 1910 and Bill Urbanski of the Braves in 1934 drew four walks in games where they also recorded two sacrifice bunts.

Foxx’s six walks resulted in two runs scored – and his zero at-bats resulted in his batting average staying at .349, which is right where it ended the season some three-and-a-half months later. Foxx led the AL in 1938 with 175 RBI, 119 walks and 398 total bases en route to his third Most Valuable Player Award.

“Foxx was something to look up at the plate,” said White Sox pitcher Ted Lyons, another future Hall of Famer. “He had great powerful arms, and he used to wear his sleeves cut off way up, and when he dug in and raised that bat, those muscles would bulge and ripple. His biceps looked like tires carrying 35 pounds.”

Foxx’s record of six walks in one game has been tied three times since by Cleveland’s Andre Thornton in 1984, Houston’s Jeff Bagwell in 1999 and Washington’s Bryce Harper in 2016. But all three of those players were issued at least two intentional walks during their record-tying game.

All of Foxx’s walks on that day in 1938 were unintentional.

“A man hit a ball that far? No way you could get mad at him,” said pitcher Wes Ferrell. “You had to admire it. Foxx was a wonderful guy, too.”

Foxx was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1951.


Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

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Part of the INSIDE PITCH series