He tried out for the hometown Chicago Cubs & the New York Giants, who eventually signed him at the age of 16. He left school to play for the AA Toledo Mud Hens, where he played briefly for two seasons.
By 1924 he was called up to the Giants eventually replacing Henie Groh as their regular third baseman over the next couple of years. In 1924 hit .253 in 52 games, as the Giants won the NL pennant getting to the World Series.
Post Season: At the age of 18, Lindstrom became & still is the youngest player to play in a World Series. John McGraw put him in the leadoff spot in his batting order, having Lindstrom play in all seven games of the World Series against the Washington Senators.
In Game #5 the youngster had four hits with two RBIs off the great Walter Johnson leading New York to a 6-2 win. In the bottom of the 12th inning in the decisive Game #7, Washington’s Earl McNeely chopped a grounder toward Lindstrom at third base.
The ball hit a pebble, took a bad hop & bounced into the outfield. The winning run scored from second base, ending the Series. The hit was officially ruled a double.
Overall Lindstrom got ten hits in the Series (10-30) batting .333 with two doubles & four RBIs.
Lindstrom’s career was just beginning; by 1926 he was an everyday player & one of the Giants most popular figures at the Polo Grounds. He batted over .300 six straight seasons in New York, gathering over 200 hits twice, leading the league with 231 in 1928. He scored over 90 runs five straight seasons, driving in over 100 runs twice, & hit 30 plus doubles four times.
In 1928 he led the league in hits (231) batting .358 (3rd in the league) hit 39 doubles, scored 99 runs, drove in 107 runs (5th in the league) & posted a .383 on base percentage. On a June 25th twin bill sweep of the Phillies in Philadelphia, Lindstrom became the first player to gather up nine hits in a double header. That day he also drove in four runs.
In September he kept New York in the pennant race as he hit safely in 30 of 33 games, but they finished second to the St. Louis Cardinals by just two games.
Defensively, For the second straight year he led all third baseman in fielding, as well as assists. As one of the league’s top players he was runner up to St. Louis’s Cardinals Jim Bottomley for MVP.
In 1930 he may have had an even better year, matching his 231 hits, batting .379 (5th in the NL) posting a .425 on base %. But he was overshadowed by team mates Bill Terry who hit .401 & Mel Ott who led the league with a .458 on base %.
Lindstrom also hit a career high 22 HRs, with 39 doubles, driving in 106 runs, & scoring 127 runs. He remained with the Giants through 1932 when he was sent to the Pittsburgh Pirates in a huge three team trade.
He suffered from a bad back & started playing more outfield in his later years. In his first season at Pittsburgh he hit .310 with 55 RBIs & then hit .290 the next year. He went to the Chicago Cubs (1935) & the Brooklyn Dodgers (1936) where he ended his career.
In a 13 year career he hit .311 lifetime (98th all time) with 1747 hits, 301 doubles, 103 HRs 779 RBIs, & a .351 on base % playing in 1438 games. He was a good contact hitter who struck out rarely, he ranks 114th all time averaging a strikeout every 20.3 at bats.
At third base he was one of the best of his time, especially during a weak period for solid third basemen. He posted a .959 fielding which is % is 66th best all time. In the outfield he had 18 assists in 1932, then came among the top three in fielding the next two years.
Quotes: "My greatest thrill? That's easy. It came the day Mr. McGraw named his 20 all-time players. I'm ninth on that list and that is thrill enough to last me a lifetime." - Freddie Lindstrom.
In 1977 the veterans committee elected him into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Although he did have a few milestones, he is considered one of the most surprising players to get elected into Cooperstown. He never got more than 5% of the vote in previous ballots.
Retirement: Lindstrom first became a manager in the minors in the early forties. He then became a longtime baseball coach at Northwestern University from 1949-1961. His son Chuck Lindstrom played one MLB game with the White Sox in 1958, getting a triple & walk in his two plate appearances. Fred passed away in 1981 at age 75.