A personal favorite, Severeid was a great catcher during the latter stages of The Deadball Era and the early years of The Lively Ball Era. There aren’t many catchers who shined during this period – Ray Schalk is the only one in the Hall of Fame – but he wasn’t better than his contemporaries, one of which was Hank.
Hank became the Browns regular catcher in 1916 and a year later paced all backstops in games caught, RBI, doubles and base hits. Hank caught in 143 games, more contests than the iron man Schalk. The next year Hank missed a sizable chunk of playing time to World War I. During the First World War, Hank was assigned to a tank unit and spent time in Europe. After returning stateside, Hank nearly died in the off season, suffering from a ruptured appendix. In fact, newspapers across the nation claimed that the catcher was on his death-bed. However, Hank recovered and caught 112 games in 1919.
An exceptional contact hitter, Hank was that rarity who hardly ever struck out. He only fanned eleven times in 1920 and nine times in 1921 – the toughest catcher in baseball to strikeout. During his career, Hank only fanned in the access of 20 times once in a given season.
In 1920, a year removed from his appendix operation, Hank led all catchers with a robust .324 batting average, 78 RBI and 143 games caught. He distanced himself from the pack again in 1922, pacing all catchers in RBI, doubles and slugging percentage. In 1923, he again paced all catchers in slugging while swatting more homeruns than any other catcher.
Traded to the Senators in 1925, Hank helped the team to the World Series by hitting .355 down the stretch. The next year he caught on with the Yankees and took them to a World Series – hitting .273 in the Fall Classic. After the World Series, Hank retired. A superlative defensive catcher, Hank retired with a career fielding percentage five points higher than the position average.
Hank played in about 400 fewer games than his Hall of Fame peer Ray Schalk but nevertheless topped the White Sox receiver in doubles and had just a hair fewer runs batted in. Also, Hank hit 36 points higher and his slugging percentage was 51 points higher than Schalks.
Hank Severeid’s career stats: G 1,390/R 408/H 1,245/2B 204/RBI 539/BB 371/SO 169/BA .289/SA .367