Before the 1911 season, Hugh Fullerton, in The Chicago Examiner, told the story about Jim Delahanty’s plan to improve his hitting. The Detroit Tigers second baseman was having a conversation with teammates:
“’I think,’ said Delahanty, ‘that if someone would kick me between the eyes real hard, I’d lead the league in hitting.’
“’What’s the angle of that remark?’ Asked Sam Crawford.
“’If I were you,’ said Davy Jones, ‘I’d hire a mule to kick me three of four times, and maybe I’d hit 1000 per cent.
“’I’ll tell you what I mean,’ said Del. ‘When I went to the Atlantic League I was just a fair hitter—fair, bordering on rotten. If I hit .225 I felt pretty good, and if I fell below that I wasn’t much surprised.
‘”Well, I had been going along fairly well for a few weeks, when one day I started stealing second. I intended at first to slide behind the bag, but the baseman changed position, and I tried to switch and slide in front.’
“’The result was I slid awkwardly, and as he touched me out and blocked me his knee hit me bang between the eyes. I saw forty million stars, and got up dizzy and feeling funny.’
“’Everything seemed changed, and I seemed to be looking through a veil all the time. Everything on mu right side looked uphill and everything on the left downhill. For about ten days I was the worst hitter in the world, not excepting Jack Pfiester. It worried me.’
“’I think in three weeks I got two base hits, and what seemed funny to me was that I made both these hits off curve balls that fooled me. The fact is my eyes had been banged out of gear and I was swinging about four inches below where the ball really was, and the only times I hit it was when it fooled me.’
“I was all upset and ready to quit when one day I drew a base on balls and tried to steal. The shortstop was coming to cover the bag, and as I slid his knee caught me right between the eyes and knocked me cold.
“’When I batted the next time I saw the ball perfectly, or thought I did, and up I went into the .250 class. A year later I got another crack between the eyes—and immediately improved still further in hitting. Now I’m waiting for the kick that will put me in the .350 class.’
“Crawford was silent for some time. Then he said:
‘”Say, did (Napoleon) Lajoie ever mention being hit between the eyes with a pile driver?’”
A .283 lifetime hitter, Delahanty had his best season at the plate in 1911, with career bests in nearly every offensive category, including average (.339) and RBI (94).
There is no record of him having received the desired blow to the head before the season began.