Long before shortstops were expected to bat .300 and hit for power, the Detroit Tigers fielded a miniature fielding machine named Donie Bush.
His career with the Tigers began in 1908 and blossomed the next year as Bush became the team’s full-time shortstop for the 1909 American League champions. Bush, 22 at the time, stood at 5′ 6″ and weighed a mere 140 lbs. Over the course of his 14 year Major League career, the switch-hitting Bush accumulated 1804 hits, 1158 walks, and scored 1280 runs. He also had an impressive .937 fielding percentage. His lifetime batting average was .250.
During his rookie season, Bush led the American League in games played (157), plate appearances (676), sacrifice hits (52), and walks (88).
Bush is often overlooked by Tigers fans because he played in the shadows of Ty Cobb, Sam Crawford and Harry Heilmann. But during the 1909 World Series, Cobb and Crawford slumped, and Bush was the star of the show as he played the role of counterpart to Pittsburgh Pirates’ SS Honus Wagner.
In the ’09 World Series, Bush batted .318 with 7 hits, 5 walks, 5 runs and 3 RBIs. At short, Bush had 9 putouts, 18 assists and 3 double plays. The Series went seven games, but Detroit lost the deciding game at Bennett Park. It was their third consecutive World Series appearance to end in disappointment.
In his day, Donie Bush would have been the pride of Detroit baseball. He may have been small, but he left a large impression on the Tigers faithful. It is with great pride that we remember Tigers great Donie Bush.