Maddox, Elliott : Jews In Sports @ Virtual Museum

Maddox, Elliott

Elliott Maddox

An African-American outfielder who converted to Judaism as a young man, Maddox played 11 seasons in the major leagues. An extraordinarily graceful outfielder who could (and did) also play any infield position, Elliott could also hit: he batted over .300 twice for the Yankees while patrolling center field with such elegance that he finished eighth in the AL MVP voting in 1974.

In 1975, while still with the Yankees, Maddox hurt his knee in the outfield of the Mets' home, Shea Stadium (the Yanks were using Shea while Yankee Stadium was being renovated). He later sued the City of New York, claiming the field was unplayable. He lost the case because he knew of the risks and played anyway.

Birth and Death Dates:
b. December 21, 1947

Career Highlights:
Born in New Jersey, Maddox attended the University of Michigan, and while in Ann Arbor, took Judaic Studies courses. As a junior in 1967, Maddox won the Big Ten batting title with an astonishing .467 average. The following year, he was made the No. 1 pick of the Detroit Tigers in the secondary phase of the draft. He spent the next two seasons in the minors.

In 1970, Elliott broke into the majors with the Detroit Tigers, hitting .248 in 109 games. Voted Detroit's Rookie of the Year, Maddox was traded to the Washington Senators the following year and moved with the team in 1973 when they became the Rangers. In 1974, the year he converted to Judaism, Maddox was bought by the New York Yankees and had the best season of his career.

In 137 games, mostly in the outfield, Elliott finished sixth in the league with a .303 batting average, and fourth in on-base percentage (.395). His season was so outstanding that he was eighth in the voting for MVP. In 1975, he batted .307 with the Yankees and then played in the 1976 World Series, although New York was swept by the Cincinnati Reds.

In 1977, Maddox played with the Baltimore Orioles. He then spent the final three seasons of his career with the New York Mets (1978-1980). He retired to Florida. Maddox was known for his smooth, elegant defensive play. He covered a lot of ground in the outfield, yet still averaged only two errors a season over a seven-year period.

Career Dates:
Maddox played with the Detroit Tigers, 1970, the Washington Senators, 1971, the Texas Rangers, 1972-73, the New York Yankees, 1974-76, the Baltimore Orioles, 1977, and the New York Mets, 1978-80.

Primarily outfield, but spent considerable time at third base, while filling in occasionally at each of the other infield positions.

Physical description:
5'11", 180 pounds

Career Statistics:
Games: 1029
Batting Avg.: .261
Slugging Avg.: .334

At-bats: 2843
Hits: 742
Doubles: 121
Triples: 16

Home Runs: 18
Home Run %: 0.6
Runs: 360
RBI: 234

BB: 409
Strike Outs: 358
Stolen Bases: 60

Pinch Hitting
At-bats: 89
Hits: 22

Fielding Statistics
Put-outs: 1704
Assists: 481
Errors: 54
Double-plays: 56

Total Chances per Game: 2.3
Fielding Avg: .976

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The Big Book of Jewish Baseball: An Illustrated Encyclopedia and Anecdotal History, by Peter S. Horvitz and Joachim Horvitz (New York: S.P.I. Books, 2001)
The Baseball Encyclopedia: Tenth Edition (New York: McMillan, 1996)