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Archived News

Dec 17, 2007

The original Bo Jackson-esque Two-Sport Athlete and some “Hinkey” bat business…by Troy R. Kinunen



Henry “Hinkey” Haines, what a great baseball name! With two recent signature model H&B bats submitted to the MEARS office, a once forgotten player now gets reintroduced to the collecting public. With the submission, MEARS had the chance to examine a pair of bats from a player with a very interesting claim to fame. And during the course of research, similarities to a more modern two- sport athlete were drawn. The athlete was Heisman Trophy winner Bo Jackson. By studying the totality of their stats, collectors may be surprised of who had the better career. “Hinkey” Haines had the distinction of playing for the 1923 New York Yankees and the 1927 New York Giants, both ended the season as World Champions. That unique combination of sports and teams christened Hinkey as the only athlete ever to play for both a World Series and National Football League champion team. In the modern era, Bo Jackson was this era’s most famous two-sport star, but he never won a championship in either sport. Bo Knows, Hinkey Shows.

According to Wikkipedia, Haines was born on December 23, 1898 in Red Lion, Pennsylvania. He batted and threw right-handed, was 5'10" in height and 170 pounds in weight. Haines graduated from high school in 1916 and attended Lebanon Valley College where he played a major role in shaping their football program. Haines left Lebanon Valley College to serve in World War 1. After serving in World War 1, he attended Penn State University in 1919. Ralph Davis, a sports columnist of the day, wrote, "Haines is the logical collegiate successor of the famous Jim Thorpe ... he is certainly the Thorpe of the present day."

Haines earned varsity letters in baseball, football, and basketball. Haines earned All-American honors in both football and baseball while at Penn State. Haines was considered an even better baseball prospect, twice making college All-American in that sport. Upon graduation, Haines played his first professional season (1922) with the Jersey City-Reading team of the International League. During his first professional season he batted .317, hit 2 homeruns, and totaled 68 RBI’s. With his college notoriety and successful 1922 minor league season, Hinkey Haines was on a fast track to the big leagues. Success was to come quickly for this two-sport star.

With a successful college career and inaugural baseball season under his belt, the rookie with a catchy name became a member of the 1923 New York Yankees. For the 1923 season, Henry “Hinkey” Haines appeared in 28 games for the World Champion Yankees. With a paltry .160 regular season batting average and four hits, it was surprising that Haines was kept on the roster for the 1923 World Series. One possible reason for his inclusion on the Fall Classic roster may have been his perfect fielding, a flawless .1000% for the 28 regular season games he appeared. Or maybe Babe Ruth just liked to drink beer with “Hinkey”.

For the Fall Classic, Hinkey got off the bench for game 2 of the 1923 World Series. What a game it was. Hinkey was a living witness to starting pitcher’s Herb Pennock victory and he saw Babe Ruth hit two homeruns. With a 4-2 victory over the Giants, Hinkey’s offense was not needed. For his World Series game 2 appearance, he saw two at bats, walked once, and scored one run. Although not on par with the Called Shot, Hinkey did contribute and even Bo Jackson cannot boast scoring a World Series run. For his only postseason appearance, Bo Jackson appeared in the 1993 American League Championship Series. In 3 games, Bo went hitless with a .000 batting average. “Hinkey” Haines outperformed Bo Jackson in post season play.

After celebrating their 1923 Championship, the Yankees decided to part ways with Hinkey. Not deterred, Henry Haines continued to make a living as a professional athlete. From the Big Apple Hinkey then moved to Louisville to play the 1924 season in the American Association League. For the season Hinkey batted .263 and had 24 RBI’s.

In 1925, Hinkey got a call to move back to the Big Apple, but this time with the Rochester Red Wings of the International League. Improving his play, Hinkey batted .290 and hit a new career high 8 homeruns. With the baseball season over, Hinkey played in the fledging NFL with the New York Giants. Available records show he played in 10 games with no specific line scores.

In an article by C.C. Staph, The Coffin Corner Volume IV, 1982, Haines football career was described as,

“Hinkey Haines was one of those running backs who blaze across the NFL sky for only a short time, yet burn so brightly that they are honored long after their last touchdown. Gale Sayers is a recent example; George McAfee was another. Haines completed his playing career before the league began keeping statistics. As a consequence, he is remembered not for huge yardage totals but for brilliant individual performances. During his short but spectacular career, he put together enough outstanding plays to be ranked with Grange, Driscoll, and Nevers as one of the great runners of his time. He was a phenomenal breakaway runner, famous for his speed. Bob Folwell, the New York Giants' first coach, insisted that in his twenty years of coaching he had never seen a faster man on the gridiron than Haines. If he were playing today, he would almost surely be turned into a wide receiver. Even in those rather pass-sparse days, Hinkey scored several of his most spectacular touchdowns on passes. On punt and kickoff returns, he was deadly. “

1926-27 found Henry Haines playing baseball for the team named York of the New York Pennsylvania League. His batting average improved to .313 and .366 respectively. In the Fall of 1926, Hinkey continued to play for the New York Giants and appeared in 12 games.

Hinkey’s breakout season in professional sports came as a flanker in the fall of 1927. Without the advent of ESPN Sportcenter, Hinkey Haine’s 1927 football achievements went mainly unnoticed to modern fans, but his football heroics certainly contributed to the Giants Championship and were recorded by the countries newspapers. The New York Giants emerged as the powerhouse of the NFL and finished the season with an 11-1-1 record, a full 4 games ahead of the 2nd place Green Bay Packers. Jack Mcbride was the Giants starting quarterback and finished second in the league with 7 TD passes as NFL leader Benny Friedman of the Cleveland Browns tossed 11.

For a comparison of the era, Hinkey would have ranked with current day players Randy Moss and Terrell Owens, both one-time league leaders in TD receptions. Records show that Hinkey and Hall of Fame member Ray Flaherty tied for the NFL lead in touchdown receptions. Each had 4 touchdowns! Hinkey was also a documented punt return threat during the 1927 Championship season. Records show he tied for the NFL lead with rival players Curly Oden & Jack Cronin of the Provenance Steamrollers, and Giants teammate Jack Hagerty. All four players had one TD punt return. Henry “Hinkey” Haines was definitely a vital contributor to the success of the 1927 New York Giants World Championship season.

To put the two player’s best gridiron seasons in comparison (Hinkey 1927, Bo 1990) lets examined Bo Jackson’s 1990 performance. While playing for the Los Angeles Raiders, in 10 games Bo Jackson scored a career high 5 touchdowns. This equals Haines combined season total of 5 touchdowns.

Even with Championship success in the NFL, players still looked at professional sports as a job. Not basking in the glow of victory, Hinkey continued to pursue both professional baseball and football careers. He needed the paycheck.

When spring of 1928 arrived, “Hinkey” Haines moved across the border to Canada to play for the Montreal team of the International League (AA). His offensive skills improved and he had a career high 81 RBI’s while batting .297. Now 28 years old, Haines finished the baseball season and moved back to New York for his final season with the Giants.

With a strong season with the team behind him, the Montreal team invited Haines back for the 1929 season. He was again consistent with .281, 6 HR’s, and 60 RBI’s. With the conclusion of the season, Haines found himself back in New York and playing the fall sport with the NFL’s Staten Island Stapletons. He saw limited action and appeared in only 4 games.

1930 was “Hinkey” Haines final season in Montreal where he batted .275, tied his career high with 8 HR’s, and totaled 69 RBI’s. He did not play football during the fall of 1930.

1931 “Hinkey” Haines played in his final NFL season with the Staten Island Stapletons.

Records show that for 1932, Haines played for the Williamsport-Scranton team of the New York-Pennsylvania League. He batted .287, 4 HR’s, and 42 RBI’s. “Hinkey” Haines finished his professional baseball career in the Pennsylvania league. In 1933 he played for the Scranton-Harrisburg team and then he finished his career with Wilkes-Barre in 1934.

His career seems short in comparison with some modern runners, but that is somewhat misleading. In the first place, few running backs played long in the 1920's. The pay was only fair and the likelihood of injury high. In the second place, Haines started his NFL stint much later that most. Had he joined the league right out of college, he might be remembered today as the best runner of the period. The low paying football career was supported by Haines’ 12 year professional baseball career. This was the reason for H&B to manufacture and supply Haines with these bats.

For the evaluation, MEARS was asked to examine two Henry “Hinkey” Haines Louisville Slugger bats. Hologram numbers #307746 & #307744 were assigned. By putting the career of “Hinkey” Haines in his proper historical context, the career timeline can be used to help date and understand when Haines would have used these bats. Members can find details of both these bats in the MEARS bat trade index.

(MEARS #307746) 1925-31 Henry “Hinkey” Haines Louisville Slugger Professional Model bat. Close examination of the centerbrand allowed us to date this bat to the 1925-31 timeframe. The style of the 125 in the centernbrand along with the design of the centerbrand branding allowed for this dating. This bat also had the presence of sidewriting. The sidewrting was consistent with the handwriting of lathe hand Henry Morrow. Although partially obscured, the year date of 1931 was clearly visible. Sidewriting is the practice of when a bat was returned to H&B for duplication, information including the submitter and date of return was applied to the barrel in grease pencil. Therefore, per the examination of the centerbrand, this bat was first manufactured between 1925-31 and was last used during the 1931 season, as per the sidewriting return date. With the label span determined, this bat was available for Haines to use while playing for 1925 Rochester, 1926 York, 1927 York, 1928 Montreal, 1929 Montreal, and 1930 Montreal. With its 1931 date, this bat was most likely returned to the factory so that Haines could order bats for his 1932 season with the Williamsport – Scranton team. This 1925-31 timeframe is important to the career of Hinkey Haines as he played two professional sports during most of this timeframe. His NFL career included 1925-28 New York Giants, 1929 & 1931 Staten Island Stapletons. Therefore, this bat was manufactured and could have been used during Haines 1927 New York Giants NFL Championship season, making Haines one of the first two sports athletes to play on Championship teams. The use is significant and the presence of vintage nails show the bat was repaired in an attempt to extend its life. Judging by the heavy and significant use, the bat may have been used over the course of a full season or season(s).

(MEARS #307744) 1925-31 Henry “Hinkey” Haines Louisville Slugger Professional Model bat. Close examination of the centerbrand allowed us to date this bat to the 1925-31 timeframe. The style of the 125 in the centernbrand along with the design of the centerbrand branding allowed for this dating. This bat also had the presence of sidewriting. The sidewrting was consistent with the handwriting of lathe hand Henry Morrow. Although partially obscured, the year date ending in the last digit _6 was clearly visible. The May 23rd day was still quite readable. Therefore, MEARS properly attributed this bat to being returned on 5/23/26. Sidewriting is the practice of when a bat was returned to H&B for duplication, information including the submitter and date of return was applied to the barrel in grease pencil. Therefore, per the examination of the centerbrand, this bat was first manufactured between 1925-31 and was last used during some time before the 1926 season, as per the sidewriting return date. This bat would have been made available for Haines to use while playing for the 1925 Rochester and 1926 York teams. For his football career, Haines was playing for the 1925 New York Giants, so this bat may have been available for his first two-sport season.

In closing, it is important to remember the careers of all early players, both at the major league and minor league level. In all honesty, I had never heard of the name “Hinkey” Haines. But, while researching both the man and his bats, I was re-introduced to a player with a stellar career that was both historically interesting and eye opening. Although you may have a bat of a non-hall of famer, these “common” players may actually have superstar qualities. This fact is also exemplified by the success found on the Bushing & Kinunen MEARS For Sale site. Players associated with championship teams and leagues such as the PCL have sold to historically minded collectors. Due to their scarcity, many of these bats are considered 1 of 1 examples. With the growing popularity of collecting these long forgotten names, it can be quite rewarding when examples are uncovered and their histories retold after concluding the proper research. In pursuit of the next “Hinkey” Haines bat for your collection, you will see how rewarding it can be to research these names from the past.

Keep Collecting,

Troy R. Kinunen

MEARS


1925 action photo of Haines breaking tackles while playing for the 1925 New York Giants


Arguably the most famous two sport athlete, Bo Jackson.


1925-31 Hinkey Haines Side Written Louisville Slugger bat


Hinkey Haines, front row, 2nd from left.


Closeup shot of Hinkey Haines in his 1923 Yankees home jersey


Circa 1923: Hinkey Haines with Babe Ruth in their Yankees road uniforms


Hinkey Haines dons an executioners mask for his 1925 NFL rookie debut with the New York Giants


1925-26 Hinkey Haines Side Written Louisville Slugger bat


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