Shore town to pay tribute to Foxx with bronze work Sudlersville's statue set for dedication tomorrow

October 24, 1997|By FROM STAFF REPORTS

SUDLERSVILLE -- Neighborly pride and stirring recollections of one of baseball's and Maryland's most notable heroes will be expressed both verbally but, more significantly, in bronze HTC tomorrow when a statue to native son Jimmie Foxx is unveiled in the center of his hometown, where he was born 90 years ago. The public is invited to the ceremony that is scheduled to begin at 11 o'clock.

Foxx, considered one of the most powerful right-handed hitters in the history of the game, entered the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1951, six years after his retirement and a 20-year major-league career in which he handled every position with the exception of second base.

In 1932, 1933 and 1938, he won the American League's Most Valuable Player award. His career was, for the most part, spent with the Philadelphia A's and Boston Red Sox, but he concluded his playing days with the Chicago Cubs and, in 1945, as a utility player with the Philadelphia Phillies.

He was a product of this quiet farm community, where he said such chores as baling hay and milking cows developed his power with a baseball bat. Foxx had massive arms and shoulders and was frequently called "The Maryland Broadback."

Foxx died July 21, 1967, at age 59, at his brother's home in Miami. He is buried in that city. Ten years ago, a memorial park, located at the intersection of Maryland routes 313 and 300, was dedicated to Foxx by the Sudlersville Community Betterment Club, Inc.

The park is the site where the statue to Foxx, created by sculptor Ken Herlihy and paid for by voluntary contributions, is to be put on display.

"There's a high degree of enthusiasm for the full day of celebration devoted to Jimmie and all the other things that will be going on," said Loretta C. Walls, whose interest in Foxx was inherited from her late father, a contemporary of the county's most celebrated son on the baseball fields of Sudlersville.

Actually, Foxx was given his first professional contract when only 16 by a fellow Hall of Fame member, Frank "Home Run" Baker, who managed the Easton Club of the Eastern Shore League.

The following season, 1925, Foxx played 10 games with the A's, managed by Connie Mack, and showed immediate promise, getting six hits in nine trips to the plate. In 1932, the first of his three MVP years, he blasted 58 home runs, drove in 169 runs and batted .364. That wasn't good enough for the Triple Crown, but he qualified the following season by putting up 48 homers, 163 RBIs and an average of .356.

For 12 consecutive seasons, he hit 30 or more home runs, a record that has endured for 57 years.

Following the dedication proceedings, the Kent Island Volunteer Band, founded by Gil Dunn of Stevensville, who has been called Foxx's No. 1 fan, will present a concert. A luncheon, highlighted by an address by sportscaster Phil Wood and the introduction of other guests, will conclude the festivities.

Pub Date: 10/24/97

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