Billy Herman began a life in professional baseball as a 17-year old minor league in 1928. After three years in the bushes, he got called up to the Cubs for a 25-game audition in late August, 1931. After hitting .327 with a .405 on-base percentage, Billy earned the starting job in ’32. With stellar defense and a .304 batting average, the 22-year old placed 9th in MVP voting.
After another solid year in ’33, Herman began a run of 10 consecutive All Star appearances. His best season as a player came in 1935 when he hit a career-high .341 and led the National League in both hits and doubles. Each year from 1934-1940 he represented the Cubs in the Mid Summer classic. After a trade to Brooklyn, he was selected to the All Star Game in ’41, ’42, and ’43.
When World War II came, Herman joined the Navy in 1944. Despite his military service, Herman kept his baseball skills sharp.
In early 1945 he traveled with a Navy baseball team that played games at recently-captured Eniwetok and Kwajelein atolls, Saipan, Guam and the Philippines. In September the same year he played for the wartime National League team that won the Navy World Series in Hawaii.
After his discharge in December of ’45, Herman played for three teams before retiring as a player in 1947. Despite missing two years while still productive, Herman’s lifetime stats stand out. A career .304 hitter, the second baseman finished with 2,345 hits, 1,163 runs, and a 57.3 WAR.
Any story of Herman’s career must include his outstanding defense. In 1933 Herman set a still-standing NL record for second basemen with 466 putouts. He led NL second sackers in the category a league-record seven times. Herman was one of the most well-rounded men of his era and gained induction into the Hall of Fame in 1975.
After leaving the game as a player, he served as a coach, manager, and scout, working for five different franchises. Specifics about his post-playing career are outlined under the next image on this page.
In this 1966 letter Herman writes to Yankee manager Ralph Houk declining an invitation to the Yankees Old Timers game. The letter comes on Red Sox letterhead as Herman was in his final year as skipper of the Boston club.
After expressing gratitude for the invitation, Herman writes, “I am sorry I will have to pass this up as we have a night game with the Twins on that date, and it will be necessary for me to be at Fenway Park.