Introducing… Irish Meusel

Brother of former Yankees legend Bob Meusel, Irish was one of the top RBI men during the early years of the Lively Ball Era.  He topped 100 RBI in four consecutive seasons for John McGraw’s powerhouse Giants.  The right-handed hitting slugger also posted a pair of seasons with 200 base hits.  Even though he didn’t get to play with the likes of Babe Ruth, Irish had a few superior traits to his more popular brother.  Bob Meusel possessed no plate discipline while Irish walked more than he fanned.  Irish only struck out 199 times in 4,900 at-bats.

As a 21-year-old, Meusel received a one-game trial with the 1914 Senators.  Although the Federal League was in operation and there were three Major Leagues, the young outfielder was still too unpolished to stick in the Majors.  He went back to the bushes but was summoned by the Phillies in 1918–the year World War I impeded play.  In the latter stages of the Deadball Era, Irish had little problem hitting–he posted a .279 batting average as a rookie.  But he enjoyed his breakout year the final season of the Deadball Era when he raised his batting average up to .305.

Power numbers began to raise in 1920 with the introduction of a newer, tighter wound ball.  Irish hit a combined nine homeruns in his first two seasons but swatted 14 in 1920 alone.  The Phillies were simply a mediocre team and midway through the 1921 season–with Irish hitting a lusty .353–they dealt him to McGraw’s first place Giants for catcher Butch Henline and outfielder Curt Walker.  Irish slugged .515 between the two teams and helped the Giants reach the World Series.  McGraw’s Men won the title over the Yankees with Irish adding seven RBI and a .345 batting average.  The trade to New York proved fruitful for Meusel as he would take part in every World Series from 1921 to 1924.

Irish enjoyed perhaps his finest year in 1922.  He posted a career high 204 base hits, 17 triples and 132 RBI.  His lofty runs batted in mark was the second highest total in the National League as the Giants romped their way to another NL flag.  The World Series of 1922 had the same cast of characters and the same result as the Fall Classic of 1921.  Irish and his Giants beat the Yankees of Ruth and Bob Meusel, as Irish, who had a homerun and seven RBI in the ’21 Series, matched these numbers in the ’22 Fall Classic.  The 1923 season would be another NL flag capturing season for the Giants but whereas Irish was the runner-up in RBI in 1922 he was the top run-getter in the NL in 1923.  He also posted a personal best 102 runs scored and for the third straight year the Giants and Yankees squared off in the World Series.  The Yankees finally had McGraw’s number and beat the Giants.

Meusel’s power mysteriously dropped off in 1924 but he nevertheless eclipsed 100 RBI for the third year running.  He’d add another year to his 100+ RBI string in 1925 when he chased 111 mates across the dish.  His power came back in a big way as he set personal highs in homeruns, doubles and slugging percentage that year.  However, for the first time since Irish joined the club, the Giants failed to make the Work Series in ’25.  Meusel’s slugging percentage fell from .548 to .432 in 1926.  The Giants cut loose of Irish after the season and he played briefly for Wilbert Robinson’s Dodgers in 1927–his last Major League action.

THE NUMBERS

G 1,289/R 701/H 1,521/2B 250/3B 93/HR 106/RBI 819/SB 113/BB 269/SO 199/BA 310/OBP .348/SA .464

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