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Who is this ‘Heinie Sand’ we’re all talking about?

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A former Phillies player was mentioned last night and all we know is that his name makes for a terrific joke about butts.

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at Atlanta Braves Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

As you are likely aware, Odubel Herrera has been making some history of late. He steps up to the plate and doubles. He gets to second base and doubles. He doubles in the dugout. He doubles in the clubhouse. He doubles during interviews. Then he doubles his way back to the hotel and doubles himself to sleep. He doubles in his sleep. He doubles as teammates and coaches plead for him to please stop, they’re trying to get some rest. When the hotel manager knocks on his door because of complaints about his doubling, Odubel doubles out of bed to answer and doubles his way out of trouble.

In fact, he’s doubling so much, maybe we should change his name from O-"dubel" Herrera to... O-"two-base" "Hit"-rrera.

It’s amazing how much history you can make when you’re hitting two doubles a night.

That’s right, Herrera is drawing comparisons to a couple of Phillies legends. One is perennial fan favorite Bobby Abreu. The other name next to which Herrera has placed himself in the annals of Phillies history is a man named Heinie Sand, whose legacy is:

Yes, poor Heinie. But what a lot of people don’t realize is that Heinie was more than a sentient ass on legs with sand in it. He played, at minimum, 132 games a season for Phillies teams that went 325-590 from 1923-28. In his last year in the big leagues, the Phillies won 43 games. Six years in the pros, and the Phillies couldn’t even give him a .500 year.

Sand was pulled into Philadelphia following the 1922 season, when the Phillies needed a shortstop and also to win a few games occasionally. They got one of those things in Sand. He was purchased for $40,000 from Salt Lake City Bees of the Pacific Coast League, a AA team he had played for since 1918 and for whom over the 1922 season he had just hit .267 over 191 (???!?!) games.

His career slash line isn’t awful: .258/.343/.344, with 18 HR, 21 of 28 SB, 32 3B, 383 BB vs. 340 SO, and of course the vaunted 145 doubles that put him on the list above. He got MVP votes in 1925 and finished 18th, only 17 spots behind Rogers Hornsby. He hit .299 with a .744 OPS in 1927, only to come crashing and sputtering back to earth in 1928 with a .211 BA and .587 OPS.

But most importantly, Sand was a icon of baseball virtue at a point when the game was being rocked by scandal. Having just recovered from the sport’s infamous "Window Sill Pie Thievery" era, fans in 1924 were stunned to learn of bribery allegations circulating the World Series-bound New York Giants that surfaced on an afternoon in late September.

"Prior to the Giants-Phillies game of that afternoon, and with New York only one victory away from clinching the pennant, Jimmy O’Connell approached Heinie Sand, the Phillies shortstop, and offered him $500 if he would ‘not bear down on us today.’ Sand declined the offer brusquely, the game was played without any strange behavior (Sand in fact scoring the Phillies’ only run), and the Giants secured the flag."

Baseball’s Greatest Season, 1924

Reed Browning

Sand went to his manager, Art Fletcher, as Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis had determined that not reporting bribes was the same thing as offering or taking them. Word crept up the baseball hierarchy and onto the jagged cliffside on which Landis typically roosted, and the commissioner was forced, based on Sand’s info, to come up with repercussions for the Giants’ actions to avoid a wave of public disgust with the game similar to that of the 1919 Black Sox Scandal, from which baseball was still recovering.

Landis excommunicated Giants outfielder Jimmy O’Connell and his manager, Cozy Dolan, whom O’Connell had said instructed him to make the offer to Sand. Three of the Giants’ key players who were said to have been involved - Frankie Frisch, George Kelly, and Ross Youngs - were excused.

And so, as Sand’s name is mentioned while Herrera doubles his way past him on the all-time lists, just know that if were not for him, Jimmy O’Connell wouldn’t have lived out the rest of his life as as a San Francisco dock worker, Cozy Dolan wouldn’t have died in Chicago with a lifetime ban on his record, and the Giants... well the Giants went on to win the World Series [CORRECTION: NOT win the World Series], anyway.

So. Let that go to show you: "Honesty" is the best policy. But "hitting doubles" is also a good policy.

References:

"Occasional Glory: The History of the Philadelphia Phillies, 2d ed.," by David M. Jordan

"Baseball’s Greatest Season, 1924," by Reed Browning