Harry Danning was born September 6, 1911 in Los Angeles California. Harry was signed by the New York Giants and made his debut at the Polo Grounds in 1933. He earned the nick name “Harry the Horse” after Damon Runyon’s famous Broadway character of that time. Runyon covered the Giants for a local paper and was elected to the sports writers’ wing of the Hall of Fame.
Danning was on the Giants 1933 World Champion squad but only appeared in three games and saw no World Series action. From 1934-1937 he was the Giants backup catcher to Gus Mancuso, who hit .300 twice in that period. In 1934 Danning himself hit .330 in 97 at bats with a HR & 7 RBIs. His average fell over the next two seasons, hitting a low .159 (11-69) in 1936.
Danning rebounded & was a member of the 1937 NY Giants N.L. pennant winning ballclub, hitting .288 with 8 HRs 12 doubles & 51 RBIs in 93 games in played.
Post Season: In the 1937 World Series after going hitless in Game #3, he had three hits and two RBIs in Game #4, helping Carl Hubbell to a 7-3 Giants victory.
By 1938 he was the Giants regular catcher, playing on the same team as Hall of Famers; Bill Terry, Travis “Stonewall” Jackson, and Hubbell. He handled Hubbell’s screwballs well and was a good defensive catcher. He was voted to the All Star team four straight seasons, coming in the top ten in the MVP voting twice.
He would lead the league in throwing out base runners attempting to steal in both 1939 & 1940. He threw out 50% or better five times in his career & 40% or better eight of his ten seasons. Harry the Horse also led the league in put outs three times, assists & games caught twice as well as errors & passed balls one time each.
He went on to hit over .300 and hit 25 plus doubles three straight seasons from 1938-1941. In 1939 he was in the top ten in the league in hitting, batting .313, with 16 HRs 24 doubles 74 RBIs a .359 on base % & 249 total bases. On June 9th 1939, he helped the Giants set a record, as one of five players to hit HRs during a single inning.
The next season (1940) he drove in a career high 91 runs (9th in the league) while hitting 34 doubles with 13 HRs. He hit for the cycle in a June game that year as well. In 1941 his average dropped to .244 with 7 HRs & 56 RBIs. He rebounded to .279 the next season, but at age 30 he was released that December as Gus Mancusco returned as the Giants catcher in the twilight of his career.
Retirement: After baseball Danning served in the military during World War II, and later became a minor league coach. Outside of baseball he spent time as a car dealer, magazine distributor & Met Life insurance executive.
His older brother Ike Danning, played one season with the St. Louis Browns in 1928. Harry retired to Indiana and lived until the age of 93, passing in 2004. He was the last surviving member of the 1933 Giants World Champion team.