Fritz Mollwitz

From BR Bullpen


Frederick August Mollwitz

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 6' 2", Weight 170 lb.

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Biographical Information[edit]

Frederick "Fritz" Mollwitz was a first baseman in the majors for seven seasons.

Mollwitz was born in Coburg, Germany, about 175 miles north of Munich. He emigrated from Germany with his parents when he was two years old. By age 20, he was playing professionally with Green Bay, from which he made the jump to the majors in 1913.

He had a nice debut with the Chicago Cubs near the end of the 1913 season. He went 3 for 7 with the bat in two games, and handled 19 chances in the field without an error. It was enough of an impression for him to make the team in 1914, but when he hit .150 in his first 13 games, he was traded in July to the Cincinnati Reds. One reason he hadn't gotten many at-bats with the Cubs was that first baseman Vic Saier was playing virtually every day and was the strongest hitter on the team with a 129 OPS+ at season end. Fritz hit only .162 after he joined the Reds in mid-season in 1914, but he became the regular first baseman in 1915, perhaps because the most-utilized first sacker, Dick Hoblitzel, hit only .210 in 1914 and was waived before the season was out.

1915 was Fritz's only year with over 500 at-bats. He appeared in 153 of the Reds' 154 games and hit .259, a few points above the team average of .253. Fritz was 25, the same age as the team's top hitter that year, Tommy Griffith.

In mid-1916 Mollwitz was sold back to the Cubs. He had been largely a regular with the Reds but became a back-up with the Cubs. Moving Mollwitz meant that the Reds could put Hal Chase at first every day, while over in Chicago, Mollwitz found Saier still ensconced at first base. Martin Kohout's biography of Hal Chase discusses at some length the first base situation with the 1916 Reds. Mollwitz is sometimes called "Zip" and sometimes "Moll" in the text and quotations. It is stated that he had broken his arm in 1915 and his condition was uncertain, although during some exhibition games he looked quite good. A journalist reported that Mollwitz had broken his arm twice in the past two years and was considering seeing a specialist. In one game Mollwitz objected to an umpire's call and was tossed from the game, only to be replaced by Chase who immediately got a hit. It wasn't long before Mollwitz was no longer on the team.

Not surprisingly, Fritz spent much of 1917 in the minors, with Kansas City, where he hit .303, one of the higher averages on the team. He came back to the majors with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1917 where the most-utilized first baseman that season was 43-year-old Honus Wagner, finishing out his career.

Fritz became the regular in 1918, appearing in 119 of the team's 125 games. While he was still not a strong overall hitter, his .269 batting average was well above the team average of .248 although his OBP was under the team average. He was the same age as teammate Max Carey.

In 1919 he was also the most-utilized first baseman but lost his job part-way through the season when he was hitting under .200. The top-hitting regular on the team was Casey Stengel, a year younger than Mollwitz. Fritz was sold to the St. Louis Cardinals, where he finished out his major league career as a teammate of Rogers Hornsby. Fritz hit .229 with the Cards at the end of 1919, while Hornsby hit .318.

Mollwitz continued to play in the minors with Sacramento from 1920 to 1924, and with St. Paul and Moline thereafter. He was player-manager at Moline. His top player on the team was Len Koenecke. His 1927 Moline team in the Mississippi Valley League finished 5th in the league standings although it had a winning record.

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