Rudy York spent thirteen seasons with the Tigers, including a bench role on the 1934 World Series team.
York started his baseball career with the Knoxville club of the Southern League. At the end of the 1934 season, the Tigers brought him up to the big leagues. He saw action in three games and sat on the bench for the ’34 World Series. The Tigers sent York back to the minor leagues in the offseason.
He wouldn’t return to playing with Detroit until 1937. He struggled defensively at third and in the outfield. His batting didn’t enough outweigh his defensively struggles to justify making York a regular starter for the Olde English D. By early August York was playing catcher. He gave the baseball world a record-setting September as a rookie. He hit 18 home runs, surpassing Babe Ruth‘s record of 17 (as a rookie) and hit 49 RBIs. His 49 RBIs also surpassed a record set by Loe Gehrig.
He’d finish his rookie campaign with 35 home runs. York was the Tigers starting catcher in ’38 until he was moved to first in 1940. He compiled 33 home runs that season behind Hank Greenburg who hit 41. York’s home runs began to slip in 1941 as he pulled in on 27 that year. he slipped further in ’42 belting just 21 home runs.
He managed to bounce back in ’43 with 34 home runs but fell to under 20 home runs in ’44 and ’45. After a poor performance in the 1945 World Series, the Tigers traded York to Boston in the offseason.
Ahead of York is Lou Whitaker who played alongside Lance Parrish in 1984. Whitaker comes in at number seven on our list.