On December 2, 1941, the New York Giants named Mel Ott as player/manager. "Master Melvin", as Ott was nicknamed, replaced Bill Terry as manager and was then replaced by Leo Durocher halfway through the 1948 campaign. Ott managed 1,004 games, winning 464, for a .467 percentage. His best team was in 1942 when the New York Giants finished third with 85 victories. He managed the Giants for seven seasons between 1942 and 1948. He finished his career with at 464-530 record.
Ott is the only player to ever lead his league in home runs while also serving as manager, which he did in 1942. He was both the youngest player to hit 100 home runs and the first National Leaguer to hit 500 home runs, many of which came while he was also managing the Giants. He passed Rogers Hornsby to become the all-time NL home run leader in 1937 and held that title until Willie Mays passed him in 1966.
Ott played his entire career with the New York Giants from 1926 to 1947. He was one of six National League players to play more than 20 years with one team. Cap Anson, Stan Musial, Willie Stargell, Craig Biggio, and Tony Gwynn are the others.
Mitchell & Ness celebrates Mel Ott's history by recreating his 1934 NY Giants jersey.
Born 101 years ago today, Mel Ott was one of the greatest and most beloved New York Giants of all time.
As an undersized, 16 year old hitting sensation, Ott caught the eye of then Giant manager John McGraw. McGraw saw something special in the 5'9", 170 pound catcher with an unorthodox batting style and blazing speed. McGraw signed the teenager from Gretna, Louisiana, sat him at his side and taught him the ins and outs of the big leagues. He could see that Ott was too small to be an everyday catcher so McGraw wisely moved him to right field. At the age of 17, in 1926, Mel appeared in 35 games, hitting .383 in 60 plate appearances.
In 1927 his playing time increased to 82 games and the rest, as they say, is history. In his first full season as a starter, Mel hit .322 which was the first of ten seasons where he would average at least .300. His lifetime batting average ended up at .304 and he twice led the league in on base percentage (1930 & 1932). In 1945 Mel became the first man in National League history to hit 500 home runs. He finished his career with 511 career home runs.
In the field Ott had a rifle arm, superior speed and an amazing knack for playing balls off of the caroms of the Polo Grounds walls. Throughout his playing career he was widely recognized as the premier right fielder in the National League. In both 1929 and 1935 he led NL outfielders in double plays.
Master Mel became the Giants player/manager in 1942 and held those positions through the 1947 season. The Mel Ott led Giants had their best finish in 1942, ending the season in third place. In what is perhaps a reflection of Mel’s mild mannered managerial style, Dodgers coach Leo Durocher said of Ott, “nice guys finish last.”
Mel’s playing days were over after the 1947 season and his managerial duties ended in 1948. His post playing days were centered around baseball as a broadcaster for the Mutual Broadcasting System and the Detroit Tigers. The Giants retired his #4 in 1949 and in 1951 Mel Ott was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Melvin Thomas Ott was killed in an automobile accident in November of 1958 in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Happy 101st birthday to one of the greatest hitters and all time good guys in baseball.