Chicago Cubs Greatest All-Time Players: No. 21 – Bill Nicholson
With the nation caught in the throes of World War II, the Cubs had a slugger who narrowly missed out on winning the MVP not once, but twice, in Bill Nicholson. The Chestertown, MD native spent a decade with Chicago – from 1939 to 1948 – and he accomplished quite a bit during that stretch.
Of course, that date range might ring a bell for today’s Cubs fans because up until 2016, 1945 marked the last time Chicago appeared in a World Series. Of course, they lost to the Detroit Tigers, but the date was etched in the minds of the fanbase — and likely still is.
He earned five All-Star selections during that stretch — and it’s not hard to see why. From 1940 to 1945, Nicholson averaged 24 homers and 102 RBI. In 1943 and 1944, though, he was one of the best players in all of baseball. In ’43 he led all of baseball with 128 runs batted in — but finished third in NL MVP voting behind a pair of Cardinals in Stan Musial and Walker Cooper.
The next year, Nicholson raised the stakes, scoring a National League-leading 116 runs and 317 total bases, while leading all of baseball with a career-high 33 home runs and 122 RBI. Despite his performance, though, he once again fell short in the MVP race, watching yet another Cardinal take the honors — this time in Marty Marion. It had to be heartbreaking, though — just one point separated the two in the final vote.
Accomplishments & Awards
- Five-time All-Star