By Lew Freedman | Staff Historian
One of the lesser remembered yet greatest baseball players in history dueled with Ty Cobb for batting titles, was the third man to collect more than 3,000 hits, and was so admired when playing for the Cleveland American League team in the early part of the 20th century the club was named after him.
When players are elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame it is said they become immortal. But often a player from yesteryear, who may be one of the all-time greats, could use a press agent in perpetuity.
Napoleon Lajoie might be the best second baseman of all, but walking through a major league stadium on a random summer night, it’s possible that only one in 25 fans would know his name, never mind what he accomplished.
Just a snapshot of a few Lajoie highlights: A lifetime batting average of .338; three, four or five American League batting titles; a single-season high average of .426 in 1901, the AL record; 3,242 hits; four times collecting more than 200 hits in a season and four times the league leader in that category.
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