Born December 25, 1908 in Nashville Tennessee, Ben Chapman bounced around the MLB with quite a few teams over the years, two of said years being with the Sox. Now, for those readers who are movie savvy, you may remember the name Ben Chapman from the movie 42 telling the story of Jackie Robinson’s entrance into the MLB.
Well, if you think they’re the same person then you’re right, And sadly Chapman was every bit the racist that the movie portrayed him as. Chapman began his career in 1930 with the New York Yankees at the age of 21 as an infielder. He played along the Yankee greats of the time including Babe Ruth, Lou Gherig, and Joe Dimaggio.
He was a solid player for the Bronx Bombers, batting .305 over six and a half seasons while leading the league in stolen bases three times. Sadly, his bigotry got in the way as he was violently anti-semetic often taunting fans in the seats while starting a fight with an opposing player that ended up lasting 20 minutes and got both teams… and 300 fans, involved. In 1936 after underperforming, the Yankees opted to trade Chapman to the Washington Senators in lieu of the rising star Dimaggio.
Chapman made his way to the Red Sox in 1937 after being sent from Washington, and had a solid season batting .307, and then following it up with a career best .340 mark ion 1938. With an outfield stacked with the likes of Ted Williams and Dom Dimaggio though Chapman once again became expendable and was sent to the Indians in a trade.
You can view his full stats here:
He bounced around for quite a few years after that, never sticking with a team (I wonder why), and ended his career as a player manager for the Phillies in 1946 going 0-1 while tossing a scoreless inning of relief. Chapman managed the Phillies till his firing in 1948, and it was his time there that was popularized in the movie 42. Not only did Chapman taunt Robinson at the plate, he also instructed his staff to bean Robinson in every 3-0 count–tactics that ultimately backfired as the Dodgers, and the MLB fans rallied behind Robinson and demonized Chapman. In fact, it got so bad at one point that Chapman was ordered to appear in a picture with Robinson as an act of good faith to bury the hatchet, which you can see here:
After leaving the MLB Chapman moved back to his home Alabama and worked in insurance, and passed away at the age of 84 in 1993.