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On this date 1901: American League lands a major player

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On February 8, 1901 the brand spanking new American League pulled off a major coup as they signed away one of the National League's biggest stars Nap Lajoie. He had spent the previous five seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies, including the 1898 season in which he led the N.L. in runs batted in, but when the A.L.'s inagurial season started in 1901 he would suit up for the crosstown Philadelphia Athletics. Connie Mack lured Lajoie by offering him more than the N.L.'s maximum salary.

Lajoie was an instant hit leading the new league in batting average, runs, hits, home runs, RBI and several other offensive categories. His .426 batting average that season is still a record in the A.L. Even with all that offense the A's could only manage a fourth place finish, nine games behind the Chicago White Sox.

Strangely Lajoie would last just over one season with the Athletics before becoming a free agent and joining the Cleveland Bronchos in 1902. Lajoie was so popular in Cleveland that the team was nicknamed the Naps in his honor. He was voted into the Hall of Fame in 1937, the Hall's second induction class. He passed away in 1959 at the age of 84.


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