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"THE BALLPLAYER" CONT'D
"He could play any position on the field and play it well. He was a fine catcher, as good a first baseman as I ever saw, one of the best outfielders, the best shortstop and one of the greatest hitters."
I can recall seeing the redoubtable Hans in Brooklyn's old Washington Park thwarting the strategy of intentional passes by lunging out with his extended reach and slamming wide pitches for game-clinching home runs over the centerfield fence. And I can remember some incredible fielding plays—saves of ball games—made by Wagner both to his left and right with his shovel hands, by adept scoops of hot drives, with off-balance throws to first base for decisive putouts.
It might also be of interest to note that several years ago President Eisenhower, then General Ike, told a group of Columbia University undergraduates that when he was a boy he would rather have been Hans Wagner than anybody else. And the General observed that "they still haven't produced as good a shortstop as the famous Flying Dutchman of the Pittsburgh Pirates."
As one who has played polo with and against the best during the past 25 years, I certainly believe that Tommy Hitchcock was indeed worthy of being generally considered the greatest player the game has ever known. It is interesting to note that the U.S. Polo Association records reveal that Hitchcock held the top rating of 10 goals from 1922 until he retired from the game in 1940, with the exception of one year when he was rated at nine due to a head injury. At no time during the years stated was any player ever rated higher than Tommy Hitchcock.
In 1921, at the age of 21, he played on the American international team in England that returned the Westchester Cup to this country, where it has remained since. Hitchcock played on every team that defended the cup in this country against Great Britain successfully, including the series of 1924, '27, '30 and '39.
To have retained his handicap of 10 goals for a period of 19 years is a record in polo so far unsurpassed. Perhaps to be at the top in any sport for such a period is unheard of.