On the wall behind the desk of John McGraw’s Polo Grounds office hung portraits of pitcher Christy Mathewson and Ross Youngs, whom McGraw called his “greatest outfielder.” Youngs had a brief but outstanding career; in eight full seasons with the Giants, the lefthanded hitter was consistently among the league leaders in several offensive categories. He topped the league with 31 doubles in 1919. His .351 average in 1920 put him second in the NL behind Rogers Hornsby; his .356 in 1924 placed him third.
In 1921, the 5’8″ 162-lb Texan became the first player in World Series history to connect for two hits in an inning, collecting a double and a triple in the eight-run seventh inning of Game Three. The right fielder on New York’s four straight pennant winners (1921-24), his superb throwing arm and track-star speed helped to obscure his overenthusiastic defensive style. He recorded league-high totals in outfield assists and errors in both 1920 and 1922.
In the wake of the Black Sox scandal, claims were made by baseball insiders that Youngs had taken bribes from New York gamblers. Teammate Jimmy O’Connell, who was banned from baseball, alleged that Youngs knew about an attempt to fix a 1924 game. Highly regarded in the baseball world, Youngs made a quick, calm, and direct denial of the charges, and was acquitted.
Youngs had the first sub-.300 performance of his career in 1925. The following spring, he was diagnosed as suffering from Bright’s disease, a terminal kidney ailment. The Giants hired a full-time nurse to travel with him, and Youngs valiantly managed a .306 average in 95 games. Bedridden in 1927, he died after watching the Giants slip to third place. He had some support for the Hall of Fame in 1938, but wasn’t inducted until the Committee on Baseball Veterans recognized him in 1972.