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  • Writer's pictureJoe Pace

New England Sports 366, #103: Rabbit Maranville

Boston was once a two-team, two-league baseball town like New York, Chicago, and LA. From 1871 to 1952, there was a National League squad in Boston, playing in Braves Field (now BU’s Nickerson Field). The team would move to Milwaukee and then Atlanta, remaining the oldest continuously-operated professional baseball team in existence. The Boston Braves left Boston sixty-eight years ago after eighty-one years in town, meaning well over half of that history is still Boston history.

The Boston Braves were not often very good. They weren’t even known as the Braves until 1913, before then carrying names like the Red Stockings, the Red Caps, the Beaneaters, the Doves, or the Rustlers. That 1913 season was the first full campaign for a kid infielder named Walter Maranville, a little guy everyone called Rabbit. Despite hitting .247 with two home runs that year, Maranville was third in NL MVP voting. The next season he finished second, as his Braves came from fifteen games back to miraculously win the pennant and head to the World Series, where there even more miraculously swept Connie Mack’s powerhouse Philadelphia Athletics. It would be the Braves’ only championship until 1957.

Maranville played for the Braves until 1920 (missing most of the 1918 season serving in the US Navy in WWI). He played for the Cubs, the Pirates, the Robins you know them as the Dodgers), and the Cardinals before finishing back home with the Boston Braves. He played 23 major league seasons, a National League record until Pete Rose broke it. In his final full season in 1933, at the age of 41, he hit .218 but still garnered MVP votes, finishing 12th. He was known for his outstanding glove and his consistent if unspectacular offense (2,605 career hits) and for his sense of humor. Like Babe Ruth, his career sprawled from the dead ball to the live ball era, one of baseball’s early characters. Apparently everybody liked the guy, and he made the Hall of Fame in 1954 just months after his premature death at 62.

What’s not to like about a Rabbit? Especially on Easter?

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