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Meet Johnny Frederick, the man Freddie Freeman passed for the Dodgers doubles record

Brooklyn Dodger Johnny Frederick on May 27, 1930.
Brooklyn Dodger Johnny Frederick on May 27, 1930.
Photo by Sports Studio Photos/Getty Images

Freddie Freeman broke the Dodgers record for doubles in a season with his 53rd two-bagger on Friday night at Nationals Park. Freeman usurped the top spot over former Brooklyn outfielder Johnny Frederick, who held the team record for 94 years and 10 days.

The Dodgers purchased Frederick from Memphis before the 1929 season, looking to add to their outfield.

By this point, Frederick already played six years in the minors, five in the Pacific Coast League. He hit .323 and averaged 211 hits and 44 doubles in those years, including 279 hits and 67 doubles in 1924 for Salt Lake.

Frederick was brought on for his bat, but folks in Brooklyn were enamored with his outfield play at the start. From Frank Kearns in The Brooklyn Daily Times on May 24, 1929:

“So sensational was his fielding that he had fans tagging him another Jigger Statz. If Johnny can succeed in definitely erasing from the Dodgers’ rooters the memories the phenomenal Statz and continue hitting over .300, he’ll have the rabid ones putting him on a pedestal with the great Speaker. Statz, you know, was and still is, a marvelous outfielder, but he could not hit hard and often enough to keep his job.”

You might remember Jigger Statz from a Dodgers Rewind last November.

Zack Wheat, the Hall of Famer and Dodgers all-time hits and doubles leader, first held the seasonal franchise doubles record in 1924, by hitting to match Jimmy Johnston’s mark from three years earlier. Wheat topped that with 42 doubles in 1925, his penultimate season in Brooklyn.

Frederick bested Wheat’s team doubles record for a season by August 29 of his rookie season in 1929. The Dodgers were playing the Giants, and New York left-hander Bill Walker took a no-hitter and 6-0 lead into the ninth inning at Ebbets FIeld.

Frederick led off the inning with a double, which spoiled Walker’s chance at history. Brooklyn added three more singles and two runs in the inning to also foil Walker’s bid at a shutout.

The Circleville Herald in Ohio ran an article with the headline, “Young Dodger Player Ruins No Hit Game,” with this lede:

“Art has no place in baseball, at least for Johnny Frederick, youthful Brooklyn star.

As witness his performance yesterday. Pitcher Bill Walker of the Giants for eight innings had done a flawless piece of work in carving a bust of himself in the no-hit hall of fame, when up came Mr. Frederick in the ninth. A lazy double drifted off his bat and Sculptor Walker’s work of art lay crumpled at his feet.”

In The Brooklyn Daily Times on August 30, Kearns set the scene from Ebbets Field, and the reaction to their home player breaking up a no-hitter.

“Frederick’s double in the ninth was his 43rd two-base hit of the season,” Kearns wrote. “The Brooklyn fans like Johnny more than any member of the Flock, but they actually groaned when his freak double ruined Walker’s bid for a no-hit game.”

The 27-year-old Frederick hit .328/.372/.545 with 24 home runs and six triples to go with those 52 doubles. He still holds Dodgers franchise rookie records for hits (206), runs scored (127), total bases (342), and extra-base hits (82).

Frederick played six years for the Dodgers, and his bat was his calling card, hitting .308/.357/.477 with a 117 OPS+. In December 1934, he was traded back to the PCL, to Sacramento for third baseman/outfielder Frenchy Bordagaray. Frederick played six more seasons, the last five for Portland, averaging 189 hits.

In his 19 seasons between the majors and minors, Frederick amassed 3,421 hits and hit .318 with 671 doubles. His 52 doubles in his first season with the Dodgers stood as a team record for a little more than 94 years, which is an incredibly long time to hold a record.

But now, when it comes to doubles, Frederick, like everyone else, is looking up at Freddie Freeman.