Charles Leo "Gabby" Hartnett (December 20, 1900 – December 20, 1972) was an American professional baseball player and manager. He played almost his entire career in Major League Baseball as a catcher for the Chicago Cubs from 1922 to 1940. He spent the final season of his career as a player-coach for the New York Giants in 1941. After his playing career, he continued his involvement in baseball as a coach and as a minor league manager.
Hartnett was an all-around player, performing well both offensively and defensively. Known for his strong and accurate throwing arm, he routinely led the National League's catchers in caught stealing percentage and was the first major league catcher to hit more than 20 home runs in a season. During the course of his career, he took part of some of the most memorable events in Major League Baseball history including; Babe Ruth's Called Shot during the 1932 World Series, Carl Hubbell's strike out performance in the 1934 All-Star Game and Dizzy Dean's career-altering injury during the 1937 All-Star Game. But the greatest moment of Hartnett's career came with one week left in the 1938 season, when he hit a game-winning home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to put the Cubs into first place. The event, which occurred as darkness descended onto Wrigley Field, became immortalized as the Homer in the Gloamin'.
Until the career of Johnny Bench, Hartnett was considered the greatest catcher in the history of the National League. A six-time All-Star, he appeared in four World Series during his playing career. At the time of his retirement, Hartnett held the career records for catchers in home runs, runs batted in, hits, doubles and in most games played as a catcher. Hartnett was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1955.
By Dean Hanley
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