Harry Danning

Harry Danning (nicknamed Harry the Horse; September 6, 1911 – November 29, 2004), was an American professional baseball player.[1] He played his entire Major League Baseball career as a catcher for the New York Giants, and was considered to be both an excellent hitter and one of the top defensive catchers of his era.[1][2] He batted and threw right-handed, and was a member of the National League All-Star team for four consecutive years, 1938-41.[3]

Harry Danning
Harry Danning 1940 Play Ball card.jpeg
Born: (1911-09-06)September 6, 1911
Los Angeles, California
Died: November 29, 2004(2004-11-29) (aged 93)
Valparaiso, Indiana
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
July 30, 1933, for the New York Giants
Last MLB appearance
September 25, 1942, for the New York Giants
MLB statistics
Batting average.285
Home runs57
Runs batted in397
Career highlights and awards

Early and personal lifeEdit

Danning was born in Los Angeles and is Jewish.[3][4] He was nicknamed "Harry The Horse" for Damon Runyon's Broadway character.[5] He attended Los Angeles High School in Los Angeles.[3] His brother, Ike Danning, played for the St. Louis Browns in 1928.[3]

Baseball careerEdit

Danning first played with the New York Giants in 1933. From 1934 to 1936, he served as the Giants reserve catcher, working behind Gus Mancuso. In 1934 in spring training, despite a team reservation Jewish ballplayers Phil Weintraub and Danning were refused entry to the Flamingo Hotel in Miami Beach, Florida, which had a "No Jews" policy. However, they were allowed to stay when Giants manager Bill Terry threatened he would take the whole team to another hotel if his Jewish ballplayers were not allowed in.[6][7][8]

In the 1937 season, Danning and Mancuso shared the catching duties with Danning appearing in 93 games, while Mancuso appeared in 86 games.[9] In 1938 Danning took over the role as the Giants starting catcher.[10] He was selected for the National League All-Star squad in four consecutive years (1938–41), was on the world champion Giants team which defeated the Washington Senators in the 1933 World Series, and appeared in the pennant-winning clubs that were defeated by the New York Yankees in the 1936 and 1937 World Series.[1]

From 1938 through 1940 Danning hit .306, .313 and .300, and finished in the top 10 in National League MVP voting in 1939 (9th) and 1940 (7th).[11][12] He collected career highs in home runs (16) in 1939, and in RBIs (91) in 1940.[1] He led all National League catchers with a .991 fielding average in 1939.[13]

On June 9, 1939 against the pennant-winning Cincinnati Reds at the Polo Grounds, Danning was one of five Giants to hit a home run in the fourth inning, breaking the prior record of four home runs by a team in one inning. Remarkably, all five were hit by the Giants with two outs.[14] Then, on June 15, 1940, he hit for the cycle in a game against Pittsburgh.[15] His home run came on an inside-the-park home run that landed 460 feet (140 m) on the fly in front of the Giants' clubhouse, wedged behind the Eddie Grant memorial.[16]

Through 2010, he was ninth all-time in career hits (behind Al Rosen) among Jewish major league baseball players.[17]

Career statisticsEdit

In addition to batting .300 or higher in three consecutive seasons, Danning had a .285 career batting average, tying Yogi Berra for the 18th highest lifetime batting average among Hall of Fame eligible major league baseball catchers. He hit 57 lifetime home runs and 397 RBIs in 890 games.[1] He had a career fielding percentage of .985,[1] leading National League catchers three times in putouts, and twice in assists and baserunners caught stealing,.[1] During his career, he threw out 47% of runners attempting to steal.[18] He caught the screwballer Carl Hubbell, and was also a teammate of Mel Ott, Bill Terry and Travis Jackson, four Hall of Famers.

After baseballEdit

Danning retired from baseball after serving in the military, working later as a minor league coach.[5] He received one vote each for the Hall of Fame in both 1958 and 1960. In 1996 he was inducted into the Southern California Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.[19]

He died in Valparaiso, Indiana, at the age of 93.[5] His obituary and photograph appeared in the December 13, 2004, edition of Sports Illustrated magazine.

Other highlightsEdit

  • In 1940 Danning was depicted on a Wheaties box as "the year's best catcher". Bucky Walters and Barney McCoskey were also depicted on that box.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "Harry Danning at Baseball Reference". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved January 22, 2011.
  2. ^ ''Harry Danning: Catching Star of Another Era'', by Rick Van Blair, Baseball Digest, October 1994, Vol. 53, No. 10, ISSN 0005-609X. Books.google.com. Retrieved January 22, 2011.
  3. ^ a b c d Harry Danning Stats | Baseball-Reference.com
  4. ^ Ellis Island to Ebbets Field: Sport and the American Jewish Experience - Peter Levine - Internet Archive
  5. ^ a b c Harry Danning Obituary at The New York Times
  6. ^ Jews and Baseball: Volume 1, Entering the American Mainstream, 1871–1948 - Burton A. Boxerman, Benita W. Boxerman
  7. ^ "JewishPress.com". Archived from the original on October 25, 2006. Retrieved 2013-09-04.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  8. ^ Jewish Major Leaguers in Their Own Words: Oral Histories of 23 Players - Peter Ephross, Martin Abramowitz
  9. ^ "1937 New York Giants at Baseball Reference". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved January 22, 2011.
  10. ^ "1938 New York Giants at Baseball Reference". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved January 22, 2011.
  11. ^ "1939 National League Most Valuable Player Award voting results at Baseball Reference". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved January 22, 2011.
  12. ^ "1940 National League Most Valuable Player Award voting results at Baseball Reference". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved January 22, 2011.
  13. ^ Baseball Digest, July 2001, P.86, Vol. 60, No. 7, ISSN 0005-609X. Retrieved January 22, 2011.
  14. ^ "Home Runs in a Game by a Team Records at Baseball Almanac". Baseball-almanac.com. Retrieved January 22, 2011.
  15. ^ "Catchers Who Hit For The Cycle at The Encyclopedia of Baseball Catchers". Members.tripod.com. Retrieved January 22, 2011.
  16. ^ "Inside The Park Home Runs by Catchers at The Encyclopedia of Baseball Catchers". tripod.com. Retrieved January 22, 2011.
  17. ^ "Career Batting Leaders through 2010". Career Leaders. Jewish Major Leaguers. Archived from the original on April 17, 2019. Retrieved February 10, 2011.
  18. ^ BaseballReference.com.
  19. ^ [1]

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit

Preceded by
Harry Craft
Hitting for the cycle
June 15, 1940
Succeeded by
Johnny Mize