Happy Birthday to The Authentic Rabbitt

Nope.

Not Rabbit Maranville.

Today is the birthday of The Authentic Rabbitt, Joe Rabbitt, born on 16 January in 1900. A Tuesday, for those who are keeping track of these things.

Joe appeared in just two games in his major league career, what’s known as “a cup of coffee.” According to Wikipedia (do I ever cite anything else) Joe was one of a group of players, young prospects all, that Manager Tris Speaker sent into the game on 21 September 1922. “An opportunity for the fans to see various minor league prospects.”

As Joe appeared in only two games, he apparently did not quite live up to his “prospect” status. Sad to say.

Joe played in two games, with three at bats, a run and a hit. Lifetime batting average: .333. Not bad.

You might think, oh, Joe Rabbitt, two games, three at bats, not a very good player. Well I found some old statistics from the 1927 Western League that show that Joe Rabbitt could play some ball.

Joe Rabbitt led the league in hits, runs and stolen bases. He tended the garden and averaged .361 in 155 games…In 1928 and 29 he led the International League in stolen bases with 42 and 46 while playing for Toronto.

Arkansas Travellers, 1925 - Joe Rabbitt, front right

The 1925 Arkanasas Travellers. They finished last in the Western League that year. But that’s Joe Rabbitt sitting front row, far right, next to the mascot. The Mascot just happened to be a young kid named Brooks Robinson. (Nah, I’m kidding.)

Apparently Joe lived up to his name. He had some speed going there. Joe racked up 251 hits for the ’27 Omaha Buffaloes, and 172 runs, according to Nebraska Minor League Baseball History.

Joe died in 1969; I haven’t seen anything yet about his life outside of baseball. But here’s to Joe Rabbitt, major league ball player, a kid with some speed and talent. Why he didn’t make it in the big leagues is probably a story. The kid had all the tools, but perhaps life took an unexpected turn for him. Perhaps he hated Cleveland, or perhaps he fell in love with a gal down there in Arkansas. Perhaps he couldn’t hit the curve, or maybe he had to attend to family matters and the game just passed him by. It’s likely we’ll never know. I wonder if he looked back at his .333 lifetime batting average and was glad that he made it up to the majors for a couple games, a hit and a run. Or was he sad that he only had those two games, those three at bats.

Happy birthday Joe Rabbitt. Good game.

rabbits three

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4 thoughts on “Happy Birthday to The Authentic Rabbitt

  1. Just looked at Eddie Rabbitt info on Wikipedia. I didn’t know he wrote “Kentucky Rain” for Elvis! And let’s not forget “Drinkin’ My Baby (Off My Mind).” I love those sorts of titles. Anyway, a nice little write-up, and Eddie seems like he was a fairly likeable guy. Despite “I Love a Rainy Night.”

  2. Thanks so much for this article, i am one of Joe Rabbitts daughters…he had six and when we were young we all played baseball but alas he never had a son…yes the big teams should have given him more time to try out…i have to tell you my father was very feisty…when he was 17-18, he was a boxer in frontenac kansas…came from a coal mining family there. My mother said, when joe was in the outfield and the fans would attack him with nasty remarks, he would go right up into the stands and pull them out and fight with them…she said that may be why he never made major league ball because i have gathered all his stats and articles inthe news and he was a great ball player. he also tied maurice archdeacon for the fastest time around the bases which may still be the record. They all reported he was the fastest Rabbitt they knew.

    • Hi Eleanore!
      Thanks for stopping bye and sharing your memories about your father; I’ll bet that was fun when all you gals were playing baseball. One of my favorite things about baseball is all the stories of the people who’ve played the game over the years. Thanks for telling us a bit more about Joe Rabbitt!

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