May 29 – Happy Birthday David Fultz

FultzThe name David Fultz means absolutely nothing to Yankee fans today, but just about a century ago, this native of Staunton, Virginia was Bo Jackson, Tim Tebow and Marvin Miller rolled into one extremely gifted and motivated human being. He played football and baseball at Brown, was named captain of both teams and achieved All-American status in both sports. In fact, his record for career points and touchdowns on the gridiron at the Ivy League school stood for 100 years. In addition to being a superb athlete, Fultz was also the epitome of a perfect gentleman, refusing to drink alcohol, smoke tobacco or curse. He was also a devout enough Christian that he had clauses written into both his pro baseball and pro football contracts that stated he could not be forced to play in games that took place on Sundays.

Fultz began his big league career with the National League’s Philadelphia Phillies in 1898 and eventually moved over to Connie Mack’s Philadelphia A’s teams in the newly formed American League. In 1903, the New York Highlanders purchased his contract from Mack.

Fultz was considered to be one of the very best outfielders in baseball in his prime. He also wielded a better than average bat. His best year was as an A in 1902, when he averaged .302, led the league in scoring with 109 runs and finished second in stolen bases with 44 thefts. By the time he came to New York, the many leg injuries he had sustained during his football career were taking their toll. He played in just 176 games during his first two seasons as a Highlander and attended Columbia Law School during the offseason. The 1904 Highlander team surprised everyone by winning 92 games and finishing just a game and a half behind the first place Red Sox. Fultz made key contributions to that team’s success as the fourth outfielder, averaging .274 in 94 games of action.  He then became a starter on the 1905 Highlander squad that finished a disappointing sixth in the AL standings as just about the entire lineup including Fultz, slumped badly from the previous year.

That winter, Fultz got his law degree and quit baseball for good. He opened a practice in New York City and in 1912, was the driving force behind the formation of Major League Baseball’s first players union. Called the Players Fraternity, the group threatened to strike in 1917 but the work stoppage was avoided when the team owners granted some concessions demanded by Fultz. The union was disbanded during WWI.

In addition to playing big league baseball, professional football and practicing law, Fultz coached collegiate football at the University of Missouri and NYU and also coached baseball at the US Naval Academy and Columbia. He was a first lieutenant in the US Army Air Service during WWI and later became active in both New York City and New York State politics. Talk about a boring life. He lived until 1959, passing away at the age of 84.

Fultz shares his birthday with this former Yankee first basemanthis former Yankee utility player and this one-time Yankee third baseman.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1903 NYY 79 335 295 39 66 12 1 0 25 29 25 21 .224 .295 .271 .567
1904 NYY 97 382 339 39 93 17 4 2 32 17 24 29 .274 .324 .366 .690
1905 NYY 129 482 422 49 98 13 3 0 42 44 39 47 .232 .308 .277 .585
7 Yrs 644 2713 2393 369 648 84 26 3 223 189 201 185 .271 .332 .331 .664
NYY (3 yrs) 305 1199 1056 127 257 42 8 2 99 90 88 97 .243 .309 .304 .613
PHI (2 yrs) 21 66 60 7 12 2 2 0 5 2 6 7 .200 .273 .300 .573
PHA (2 yrs) 261 1217 1067 204 317 37 14 1 101 80 94 65 .297 .357 .361 .718
BLN (1 yr) 57 231 210 31 62 3 2 0 18 17 13 16 .295 .342 .329 .671
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 5/29/2013.

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