Issue Date: July 15, 2006
City: Bronx, NY
Printed by: Avery Dennison
Printing method: Photogravure
Perforations: Die cut 10 ¾
Melvin Thomas Ott (1909-58) was born in Gretna, Louisiana. At 16, he joined a semi-pro team near New Orleans and was an immediate sensation. The owner sent him to Giants’ manager John McGraw for a tryout in September 1925. After seeing what the boy could do, McGraw said, “This lad is going to be one of the greatest lefthand hitters the National League has seen.”
McGraw brought Ott along slowly over the next two years. Ott had a very unusual batting style in which he lifted his right foot before connecting with the ball. At 19 years old, he became the New York Giants’ regular right fielder and was outstanding in that position.
Ott stayed with the Giants 22 seasons, playing in three World Series. He was an All-Star every year from 1934 to 1945. When he retired as a player, he had 511 career home runs, the first National Leaguer to hit 500. He averaged more than 80 runs batted-in per year.
Ott also held the National League career record in bases on balls. Pitchers grew wary of him early in his career; Ott walked 113 times at the age of 20.
In a nationwide vote by war-bond buyers in 1944, Ott was elected the most popular sports hero of all time, over Babe Ruth and Joe Louis. Mel Ott was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1951.