Chicago Cubs: The Heroes of Wrigley Series presents Hack Wilson

(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) /

Chicago Cubs: His vices finally catch up to him

In December of 1931, the Cubs traded Wilson to the St. Louis Cardinals. Less than a month after they acquired him, the Cards shipped him to Brooklyn in exchange for a minor leaguer. As a member of the Dodgers, he had a resurgent 1932 season, batting .297 with 23 home runs and 123 RBI.

By 1934, his offensive totals substantially dropped off and he was hitting just .262 when Brooklyn released him mid-season. He played one more season in Class “A” for the Albany Senators in the New York-Pennsylvania League before retiring from the game at the age of 35.

His life after baseball was just as raucous as his last days of playing. His wandering years saw Wilson encounter many financial problems due to failed business ventures from this short-lived bar, all the while further drifting from his wife and son, Robert. Like his mother, he became an aimless drifter, working odd jobs up and down the East coast, of course, drinking every step of the way.

Wilson frankly admitted to drinking his life away during his later years and sadly looked back at his prime years: “There are kids, in and out of baseball, who think because they have talent, they have the world by the tail. It isn’t so. In life, you need things like good advice and common sense. Kids, don’t be too big to take advice. Be considerate of others. That’s the only way to live”

Once the highest-paid player in all of the National League, Wilson’s alcohol-ravaged barrel of a body couldn’t take the toll from the many years of battling with the bottle and died, penniless, on Nov. 23, 1948.

His body went unclaimed for three days. His son, Robert, refused to accept responsibility for his estranged father’s corpse. It wasn’t claimed until his drinking buddies from various taverns in Baltimore, tossed funds into a hat, in order to help pay for the funeral service and a gravestone. National League President Ford Frick sent a check for $350 to cover the rest.