Teaming with slick-fielding shortstop Jack Barry and Hall of Famers Frank “Homerun” Baker and Eddie Collins, McInnis was the first baseman on Connie Mack’s fabled $100,000 Infield of The Deadball Era. Hall of Fame voters made the monumental mistake of electing Frank Chance, Johnny Evers and Joe Tinker as a unit while this crew would have made for a much more worthy Hall of Fame unit.
Stuffy’s first big league action came as a teenager with Connie Mack’s Athletics in 1909. The kid was stuck behind The Deadball Era homerun legend Harry Davis for two years, but after showing a .301 batting average in 1910, Mr. Mack knew he had to find a place for Stuffy on the field. Stuffy claimed Davis’ first base post in 1911 and hit a lusty .321 in his first year as a regular. A year later, at the tender age of 21, Stuffy established himself as one of the finest first basemen in baseball by leading all initial sackers with a .327 batting average, 101 RBI and 83 runs scored.
He was the cream of the crop among first basemen in 1913, leading AL first basemen in the following departments: batting average, runs, hits, doubles, homeruns, RBI and slugging percentage. His 90 RBI finished second in the American League. The following season, Stuffy again finished second in the league in the runs batted in department, playing for the mighty Athletics while pacing AL first basemen in runs scored, hits and RBIs.
After the 1914 season, with the upstart Federal League taking away many of his stars, Connie Mack sold off his greats and began a string of seasons as the American League’s doormat. Of all the Athletic greats of the time, think Baker, Collins, Eddie Plank and Chief Bender, McInnis was the only one Mr. Mack retained, and Stuffy suffered for it. His RBI numbers dwindled considerably as Mr. Mack filled the shoes of Eddie Collins with an over-the-hill Nap Lajoie and called upon such forgettables as Weldon Wyckoff and Rube Bressler to lead the mound corps.
Although Stuffy’s run production took a great hit when all his teammates were sold off, the slick-fielding first basemen still hit with authority. In 1917, Stuffy and the legendary George Sisler were the only two first basemen in baseball (with 500+ at-bats) that posted a .300 or better batting average. The 1917 season was thankfully Stuffy’s last with the basement dwelling A’s and Mr. Mack traded him to the Red Sox. With Stuffy manning first base in Beantown, the Red Sox won the AL pennant and McInnis hit .250 during the Fall Classic (the Red Sox as a team hit at a .186 clip).
Although Stuffy was a brilliant defender (his career fielding percentage is .993) his greatest trademark is his inability to strikeout. Stuffy fanned eleven times in 1919 in 440 at-bats. He was the most difficult player in baseball to strikeout in the early 1920s. In 1921, McInnis struck out 9 times in 584 at-bats – once about every 65 at-bats. He was even better in 1922, fanning once every 107 at-bats. In the 1921, ’22 and ’24 seasons, Stuffy was the most difficult strikeout victim in the game.
Stuffy later caught on with the Pittsburgh Pirates and hit .368 for the NL champs in 1925. He retired a year later, one of the finest contact hitters in the game’s history.
Stuffy McInnis’ career stats: G 2,128/R 872/H 2,406/2B 312/3B 101/RBI 1,060/SB 172/BA .308/SA .381