Monday, June 11, 2012
Cubs 365, June 11
He was one of the greatest hitters on the Cubs in his seven seasons in the big leagues. He led the 1918 team to the pennant, and led the league in hits. In 1922, he only struck out four times in 509 at-bats, still the best ratio in Cubs history. In two different seasons he was in the top ten in hitting, and he anchored the team's defense at shortstop. He seemed destined to have a Hall of Fame career.
But Charlie was a very troubled man.
In 1923 he developed a strange stomach problem. In August of that season, he left a note for his manager one day, saying he was going to quit for the year. He was convinced that baseball was making him sick. This is what his letter said:
"Feeling pretty rotten so made up my mind to go home and take a rest and forget baseball for the rest of the year. No hard feelings, just don't feel like baseball for the rest of the year."
He wrote that note on the day President Warren Harding died, so it didn't get much attention in the Chicago press. The Cubs simply described his problems as "nervousness," and vowed he would return the following season. It seemed like everything was fine when he came back the next year, but he couldn't shake the stomach problems. He saw dozens of doctors and specialists, but no one could figure out what he had. After the 1924 season, at the ridiculously young age of 28, he retired...with a lifetime average of .304.
When his playing days were over, he dropped out of public view and drifted from job to job, but Hollocher continued to suffer mightily, both physically and mentally; most likely from clinical depression. His return to baseball was rumored nearly every year, but the demons that ended his playing career eventually ended his life. In 1940, at the age of 44, he bought a shotgun and shot himself in the throat.
Charlie Hollocher is buried in Oak Hill Cemetary in Kirkwood, Missouri.
(I didn't post this weekend's Cubs 365 here, so if you want to read June 9th and June 10th, they were about Roy Smalley, and the Cubs getting uniform numbers for the first time.)