Positions: Shortstop, Third Baseman and Second Baseman
Bats: Right • Throws: Right
5-9, 160lb (175cm, 72kg)
Born: November 22, 1907, in Chicago, IL
Died: August 4, 1995 (Aged 87-255d) in Alameda, CA
Buried: Chapel of the Chimes, Oakland, CA
High School: Alameda HS (Alameda, CA)
Debut: October 2, 1927 (Age 19-314d, 5,814th in MLB history)
vs. CIN 2 AB, 0 H, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0 SB
Last Game: May 24, 1946 (Age 38-183d)
vs. BSN 1 AB, 0 H, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0 SB
Full Name: Richard William Bartell
Nicknames: Rowdy Richard or Shortwave
View Player Bio from the SABR BioProject
He was a talent that was so impressive it caused the Pirates not only to trade their fine incumbent second baseman Glen Wright, but when he moved over to short, Pittsburgh thought they had a superstar and chose to keep him over a prospect by the name of Joe Cronin, that is future Hall of Famer Joe Cronin. Yes the Bucs really felt they had a winner in Dick Bartell, the problem was though, as talented as he was, he was so feisty, played so angry, his act would fizzle out every where he went sending Rowdy Richard to no fewer than 5 teams.
Bartell broke in with the Pirates in 1927 and hit .305 in his official rookie season the following year. The mark so impressed Pittsburgh management that they send their star second bagger Glen Wright, who had been suffering from a sore arm, to the Dodgers.
The Chicago native moved over to short in 1929 and continued his rise, with a .302 average, scoring 101 runs. Again management thought it had a man for the long term and chose not to keep a fine young prospect in Joe Cronin.
After a career high .320 in 1930, the Pirates unfortunately decided that Bartell’s attitude in the long run was not worth his being included on the roster. Rowdy Richard was very aggressive, constantly fighting with umpires, opponents, both verbally and physically. It was a pattern that caused each club that would trade for him to reconsider keeping him
Bartell played in three World Series and the 1933 All-Star Game, the first to be played. He had one year in the minors, 1926, with the class A Bridgeport Bears in the Eastern League, where he hit .280 in 148 games. At 19, Bartell was the youngest player in the National League. He appeared in only one game at the end of the season, drawing two walks in four plate appearances. He played flawlessly in the field with five chances and one double play. It was the Pirates’ misfortune to face the New York Yankees, one of the strongest teams in baseball history, in the World Series that year, 1927. The Pirates lost to the Yankees in four games and the team had to wait until 1960 to make amends.
Make no mistake though, Bartell was every bit as talented as the Bucs thought. He finished his 18-year career, that included a two year stint in the armed forces during the war at the ripe age of 37, with a .284 average and a total of 178 fielding runs (a statistic that appears in the Total Baseball official baseball encyclopedia meant to measure a fielder’s worth through their tangible stats such as putouts, double plays, assists and errors versus the league average) which is 23rd on the all-time list, proving his adeptness in the field.
With an aggressive style of play and fiery attitude which earned him his nickname, Bartell was a competent shortstop with good hands and a strong throwing arm. A skillful hitter, he batted a career-high .320 in 1930. After three seasons over .300 with Pittsburgh, he was traded to the Phillies in 1931, and had collected seasons of 40 doubles and 100 runs three times each by 1934. Bartell helped Philadelphia’s perennial cellar-dwellers finish in fourth place in the 1932 season, for the only first-division finish by a Phillies team in a span of 32 seasons (1918-42). In 1933 he was elected to the first All-Star Game, and again in 1937.
New York Giants
Traded to the New York Giants before the 1935 season, Bartell helped the team win two NL pennants (1936-37), and hit .381 in the 1936 World Series. Leading off for the Giants in the Brooklyn Dodgers’ home opener in 1937, he complained when the first pitch was called a strike – and was promptly hit in the chest with a tomato thrown from the stands.
He later played with the Chicago Cubs in 1939. In 1940, his first season in the American League, he teamed up with second baseman Charlie Gehringer to give the Tigers an AL pennant. Bartell started 1941 with Detroit but returned to the Giants in the midseason as a player-coach.
In an 18-season career, Bartell posted a .284 batting average with 79 home runs and 710 RBI in 2016 games played. He also finished with 1,130 runs, 2,165 hits, 442 doubles, 71 triples and 109 stolen bases.
Bartell later managed in the minor leagues and coached for the Tigers and Cincinnati Redlegs. He died in Alameda, California at age 87 after suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease. He is interred at the Chapel of the Chimes columbarium.
* Pittsburgh Pirates (1927–1930)
* Philadelphia Phillies (1931–1934)
* New York Giants (1935–1938)
* Chicago Cubs (1939)
* Detroit Tigers (1940–1941)
* New York Giants (1941–1943, 1946)
Career highlights and awards
* 2× All-Star selection (1933, 1937)
Pittsburgh Pirates Encyclopedia
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