Benny Kauff: Wikis


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Benny Kauff

Born: January 5, 1890(1890-01-05)
Pomeroy, Ohio
Died: November 17, 1961 (aged 71)
Columbus, Ohio
Batted: Left Threw: Left 
MLB debut
April 20, 1912 for the New York Highlanders
Last MLB appearance
July 2, 1920 for the New York Giants
Career statistics
Batting average     .311
Home runs     49
Runs batted in     454
Career highlights and awards

Benjamin Michael Kauff (January 5, 1890 – November 17, 1961)[1] was a professional baseball player, who played centerfield and batted and threw left-handed.[2] Kauff was known as the “Ty Cobb of the Feds.” He is the only player to be permanently banned from baseball (without being reinstated) for reasons other than gambling.[3]


Baseball career


Early career (1912-15)

Kauff played his first game in the majors with the New York Highlanders on April 20, 1912. He played only five games with the Highlanders before being sent down to the minors.[2]

After spending the 1913 season in the minors, Kauff appeared with the Indianapolis Hoosiers of the short-lived third major league, the Federal League.[1] Behind the offense of Kauff, Indianapolis won the first Federal League Crown in 1914.[4] Kauff was traded to the Brooklyn Tip-Tops for the 1915 season.[1] The Tip-Tops were unable to capitalize on Kauff’s offense, and finished seventh in the Federal League’s second, and last, season.[5]

Kauff earned the moniker “Ty Cobb of the Feds” with his dominance of offensive categories during both years of the Federal League’s existence. In 1914, he led the league in batting average (.370; still the rookie record for league-leading batting average), on base percentage (.447), runs (120), hits (211), total bases (305), doubles (44), and stolen bases[3] (75; which remained the rookie record until Vince Coleman broke it and stole 110 bases in 1985),[6] while finishing 2nd in slugging percentage (.534) and 3rd in RBIs (95) and walks (72).[4]

He followed with an almost equally impressive season in 1915. That year he led the Federal League in batting average (.342), obp (.446), slugging percentage (.509), and steals (55).[3] Meanwhile he finished 2nd in walks (85), 3rd in home runs (12), and 4th in RBIs (83), runs (92), and hits (165).[5]

New York Giants (1916-20)

When the Federal League folded after just two seasons, the New York Giants of the National League purchased his contract from Brooklyn for $35,000. Kauff played with the Giants from 1916 until 1920.[7] However, he never found the stroke he had had in the Federal League.[1]

On May 26, 1916, Kauff earned the dubious distinction of being the only player in the 20th century to be picked off first base three times in one game.[8]

In 1916 he was 2nd in the NL in stolen bases (40) and triples (16), 4th in RBIs (74), home runs (9), and walks (68), and 9th in slugging percentage (.408).[1]

His best season in the National League was 1917, when he came 3rd in runs (89) and stolen bases (30), 4th in batting average (.308), 5th in obp (.479), 6th in hits (172), and 7th in RBIs (68) and walks (59).[1] That year the Giants made it to the World Series. The Giants lost four games to two to the Chicago White Sox,[9] in Chicago’s last World Series victory until 2005.[10] Kauff had a strong performance in Game 4, hitting two home runs and driving in three runs in the Giants’ 5-0 victory.[11]

Kauff was at the same time a high-living dandy, and at times a trash-talking hothead. Kauff was famous among his teammates for chewing tobacco, smoking a cigar, and drinking a beer all at the same time, without stopping.[12]

His 1918 campaign was shortened by service in World War I.[13]

In 1919 he led the NL in extra base hits (44), and was 2nd in home runs (10), 4th in RBIs (67) and doubles (27), 5th in runs (73), and 7th in slugging percentage (.422).[1]

In December 1919, Kauff was implicated in a car theft ring along with his brother.[3] After only playing 55 games in 1920, the Giants traded Kauff to Toronto of the International League, and his major league days were over.[7]

Acquittal and banishment

On May 13, 1921, Kauff was acquitted of auto theft. However, then Baseball Commissioner, Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis banned Kauff from baseball for life. He said that Kauff had an “undesirable reputation and character.” Kauff appealed his banishment in court on account of his acquittal, but to no avail.[7] On January 17, 1922, an appellate court denied his appeal.[14] Judge Landis was never convinced of his innocence. Landis said, “That acquittal was one of the worst miscarriages of justice that ever came under my observation."[15]

Banned, he was a baseball scout for 22 years, and then became a clothing salesman for John R. Lyman Company.[12] Kauff died November 17, 1961, in Columbus, Ohio, still banned from baseball.[3] In a 1976 Esquire magazine article, sportswriter Harry Stein published an "All Time All-Star Argument Starter," consisting of five ethnic baseball teams. Kauff was the center fielder on Stein's Jewish team.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Benny Kauff Player Page at
  2. ^ a b Benny Kauff Batting at
  3. ^ a b c d e Benny Kauff at Simply Baseball Notebook
  4. ^ a b 1914 Federal League Team Statistics and Standings at, URL accessed November 26, 2009. Archived 11/26/09
  5. ^ a b 1915 Federal League Team Statistics and Standings at, URL accessed November 26, 2009. Archived 11/26/09
  6. ^ Vince Coleman Hitting Stats at, URL accessed November 26, 2009. Archived 11/26/09
  7. ^ a b c Benny Kauff Trades and Transactions at, URL accessed November 26, 2009. Archived 11/26/09
  8. ^ League Federal at, URL accessed November 26, 2009. Archived 11/26/09
  9. ^ 1917 World Series at, URL accessed NOvember 26, 2009. Archived 11/26/09
  10. ^ Baseball-Reference Playoff and World Series Index at, URL accessed November 26, 2009. Archived 11/26/09
  11. ^ 1917 World Series Game 4 at, URL accessed November 26, 2009. Archived 11/26/09
  12. ^ a b Benny Kauff by David Jones, URL accessed November 26, 2009. Archived 11/26/09
  13. ^ 1918 Baseball Season at, URL accessed November 26, 2009. Archived 11/26/09
  14. ^ This Day in Baseball History: January 17th at, URL accessed November 26, 2009. Archived 11/26/09
  15. ^ Benny Kauff Stats at, URL accessed November 26, 2009. Archived 11/26/09

External links


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