Oct 27, 2012

1936 N.L. Champion New York Giants Player: Wally Berger (1936-1937)

Walter Anton Berger was born October 10, 1905 in Chicago, Illinois. Berger grew up in San Francisco, California & was a high school team mate of future Hall of Famer Joe Cronin. Beregr played in the PacificCoast Leage with the AA Los Angeles Angels were he was a slugging star. In 1929 he bashed 40 HRs while batting .335, his third straight year of batting over .325. He was signed & brought up to the Boston Braves in 1930 and had a record setting year.



He set a rookie record by hitting 38 HRs, a record stood for 58 years until Mark McGwire broke it in 1988. Berger drove in 119 runs, also a rookie record until broken by Albert Pujols in 2001. Berger also hit 27 doubles with 14 triples while batting .310 overall. It was quite a debut but hard to follow up. He hit over .300 over the next three seasons &.290 or better over next five seasons. Berger made thAll Star team for four straight years from 1933-136, gaining votes for the MVP award each year as well.

In 1934 he hit 34 HRs with 121 RBIs both third best in the league, as he hit .295 posting a355 on base %. The following season (1935) he led the league in both HRs (34) & RBIs (130) with 39 doubles a .295 batting average & a .355 on base percentage. He would hit over 30 HRs three times at the big league level & drive in over 100 runs four times. Babe Ruth called him the best centerfielder in the league in 1933. He set Braves all time HR marks in those tears that were broken by future Hall of Famer Eddie Mathews.

In 1933 his 27 HRs were more than half the teams total combined. Throughout the thirties he was on top in the leader boards in HRs, Slugging %, on base %, doubles, total bases, extra base hits, RBIs & strike outs, He twice had the best at bat per HR ratio in the league. Berger was also a top centerfielder & left fielder. He led the league in games played three times, fielding & put outs one time each, while being among the league leaders many times. During the 1936 season he suffered a shoulder injury that took a huge toll on his career.

He was traded to the New York Giants mid season, and his first Giants HR was the 200th of his career. He played as fourth outfielder behind the great Mel Ott, Jo-Jo Moore & Jimmy Ripple. Berger arrived at the Polo Grounds on June 15th & would play in 59 games with the Giants. He hit .291 with 12 HRs & 43 RBIs the rest of the season for New York, as the Giants won the pennant under manager Bill Terry. He only made three pinch hit appearances in the 1937 World Series going hitless.

He spent the first part of the 1938 season in New York hitting .188 & was traded to the Cincinnati Reds after 18 games. He finished the year with 16 HRs & hit 14 more the next year before winding down by 1940 in Philadelphia.

In his 11 season career he hit an even .300 with 1550 hits 242 HRs 299 doubles 59 triples 809 runs scored 898 RBIs & a .359 on base % in 1350 games played.

Retirement: After baseball he was a scout for the Giants & became minor league manager. Berger passed away of a stroke at Redondo Beach, California in 1988 at age 83.

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