New-York Historical Society's Bill Shannon Dictionary of New York Sports

Benny Kauff

Benny Kauff (Baseball.  Born, Middleport, OH, Jan. 5, 1890; died, Columbus, OH, Nov. 17, 1961.)  Known as the “Ty Cobb of the Feds,” Benjamin Michael Kauff spent most of his early career under the control of the Yankees.  Kauff played only five games for them in 1912 and spent much of the next two years shuttling around the minors.  When the Federal League tried to become the third major league in 1914, he jumped to the Feds’ Indianapolis club.  When that team moved to Newark in 1915, Kauff went to Brooklyn as a form of territorial compensation.  He won the batting title both years the F.L. was in operation, hitting .370 (1914) and .342 (1915).  Kauff also led the upstart league in stolen bases twice with 70 and 55.  When the F.L. collapsed, Kauff’s rights went to the Giants, where he stole 40 bases but hit just .264 in 1916.  He hit .308 with 30 steals in 1917 and got four hits in the World Series, homering twice in Game 4.  Still, it is unlikely that Giants manager John McGraw considered him worth the $30,000 he paid to the Brookfeds for Kauff’s rights.  Kauff played five years for the Giants (1916-20) despite repeated rumors of his involvement in gambling coups.  He and his brother were charged with auto theft in 1921 and, though Kauff was acquitted, Commissioner Landis barred him for life for consorting with criminals.  Kauff sued Landis and lost.  The lefthanded hitter finished with a .311 average for 859 games, including the two stellar years with the Feds.

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The Bill Shannon Biographical Dictionary of New York Sports is an open database of sports biographies maintained by Jordan Sprechman and Marty Appel. We welcome public and scholarly contributions and suggestions.

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About Bill Shannon

A prolific author, wire service sports reporter, long time Major League Baseball official scorer, football statistician, sports museum founder, theatrical agency owner and public ... read more

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