Jacob Nelson Fox
– December 1
) was a Major League Baseball second baseman
for the Chicago White Sox
and is a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame
. Fox was born in St. Thomas Township, Pennsylvania
. He was selected as the MVP
of the American League
Fox began his career his the Philadelphia Athletics
in , though he was never a full-time starter during his three seasons with the team. Traded to the White Sox October 29
, , Fox's career took off with the White Sox. He spent 14 seasons with Chicago, making 10 All-Star
teams. He played his final two seasons (1964-65) with the Houston Colt .45s and Astros
With the White Sox, Fox played next to a pair of slick-fielding shortstops, Venezuelans Chico Carrasquel (1950-55) and Hall-of-Famer Luis Aparicio (1956-62), and was, year after year, a member of the best defensive infield in the League. Fox won Gold Gloves in , and .
Only 5-foot-9, he made up for his modest size and minimal power — he hit only 35 home runs in his career, and never more than six in a single season — with his good batting eye, excellent fielding, and baserunning speed. Fox was perennially one of the toughest batters to strike out, fanning just 216 times in his career, an average of once every 42.7 at-bats which ranks him 3rd all-time. He led the league in most at-bats per strikeouts a phenomenal 13 times in his career. Although not known as a great hitter (lifetime .288 batting average), he batted over .300 six times, with 2,663 hits, 355 doubles, and 112 triples. He also led the league in singles for seven straight years, in triples once, and in hits four times.
After his playing career, Fox was a coach for the Astros (1965-67) and the Washington Senators/Texas Rangers (1968-72).
Nellie Fox died of cancer in Baltimore, Maryland in 1975. He was not selected to the Hall of Fame in his initial period of eligibility. In his final opportunity, 1985, he gained 74.6 percent of the vote, just shy of the 75 percent required for election by the Baseball Writers Association of America. However, in , when the Veterans Committee elected him to membership in the Hall.
Fox's best season came in 1959, when the White Sox won their first pennant in 40 years. He batted .306, had an on base percentage
of .380 and won his second Gold Glove. The Al Lopez
-managed White Sox had the best record in baseball, going 94-60 to finish five games ahead of the Cleveland Indians
and a surprising 15 ahead of the New York Yankees
. It was one of just two seasons the Yankees would not win the pennant between - (the Indians won it in ).
In the World Series, Fox batted a team-high .375 with 3 doubles, but the Sox lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers in six games. It was Fox's only postseason experience, and the White Sox would not make it back to the World Series until 2005.
- He was the first White Sox player to be elected MVP of the American League.
- He had only 216 career strikeouts in over 9,200 at-bats: the 3rd best percentage in MLB history.
- Fox set the record for consecutive games played at second base, with 798.
- He was a 12–time All-Star.
- Nellie Fox collected 3 Gold Glove Awards for excellent defensive play at second base.
- Upon his retirement, he held the American League record for being involved in the most double plays by a second baseman; the second highest Major League total after Bill Mazeroski.
- Between 1959 and 1960 the Aparicio-Fox middle infield duo each won the Gold Glove Award for their respective position, starting a select list of eight shortstop-second baseman combinations who have won the honor in the same season while playing together.
- His uniform number 2 was retired by the White Sox.
- In 2006, two bronze statues, one depicting him, the other depicting his teammate and fellow infielder Luis Aparicio, were unveiled on the outfield councourse of U.S. Cellular Field. Fox's statue depicts him flipping a baseball toward Aparicio, while Aparicio is depicted as preparing to receive the ball from Fox.
Fox is what you'd call a manager's ballplayer. He does his job expertly and he does it every day. He's the type of player you can count on. He's an old pro. A great many times, he is hurting pretty badly from the dumpings he's taken on the field, but he's always ready to play.
- Hall of Fame manager Al Lopez
Nellie was the toughest out for me. In 12 years I struck him out once, and I think the umpire blew the call. - New York Yankees Hall of Fame pitcher Whitey Ford