Object of the Month

“Hoop, Hoop, Hooper up for Red Sox”: Harry Hooper, Four-Time World Champion Outfielder with the Boston Red Sox

Hoop, Hoop, Hooper up for Red-Sox Baseball Song Sheet music:

Hoop, Hoop, Hooper up for Red-Sox Baseball Song


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    [ This description is from the project: Object of the Month ]

    This sheet music featuring lyrics by Daniel J. Hanifen and music by Bernard H. Smith was published in 1915 in the midst of a championship run by the Boston Red Sox. The song celebrates the play of Sox outfielder Harry Bartholomew Hooper (1887-1974).

    Who was Harry Hooper?

    Harry Bartholomew Hooper was born 24 August 1887 in the Santa Clara Valley of California, the fourth child of Joseph and Mary (Keller) Hooper. At age seven, Harry started school in Volta, California, where he was a bright and curious student and, according to his biographer, loved nothing more than a ball and bat game called “one o’cat.” It was on a trip back East with his mother, however, that Harry acquired the baseball bug. His uncle Mack Zindel, an avid fan, took Harry to his first real baseball games and nurtured his interest in the sport.

    Although it would not have been uncommon for Harry’s formal education to end after grammar school, Harry’s teachers, seeing his intellectual promise, urged Joseph and Mary to send him to the high school attached to St. Mary’s College in Oakland, California. They agreed and Harry set off for Oakland in 1902, at the age of 15. Although his parents were doubtless focused on the educational benefits, Harry had something else in mind—“I was very well pleased, not because I was particularly interested in getting an education, but because I knew I’d have a chance to play baseball.” Ultimately, Harry would spend five years at St. Mary’s earning a degree in engineering, but his on-field performance in his senior year earned the attention of professional baseball scouts and would derail his plans of a career in engineering.

    “I’m a scout for the Boston Red Sox”

    Although Harry himself saw baseball as “a sideline to engineering to make enough money for a living,” Red Sox scout Charlie Graham saw much more and had been in touch with Sox owner John Taylor about signing Hooper. In 1908, Taylor and Hooper met, agreeing to a $2800 contract—a sum that allowed Harry to give up his engineering gig and play the game he loved full time. Hooper joined the team at their spring training headquarters in Hot Springs, Arkansas, and although he did not make their opening day roster that season, he soon became a dependable and productive player.

    Hooper’s tenure with the Red Sox included some of the team’s most successful seasons. Playing alongside teammates and future Hall of Famers such as Babe Ruth and Tris Speaker, Hooper and the Boston nine would win world series championships in 1912, 1915, 1916, and 1918. In 1915, Hooper belted two home runs in the decisive fifth game against the Philadelphia Phillies clinching the series for the Sox. After the team’s 1918 championship, however, club owner Harry Frazee started unloading expensive veterans from the team (most notoriously Babe Ruth to the Yankees) and in 1921, Hooper himself was traded to the Chicago White Sox, retiring at the end of the 1925 season.

    Life after baseball

    After his retirement, Hooper returned to his family—wife Esther and children John, Harry Jr., and Marie—in Capitola, California. He started a real estate firm, briefly served as Princeton’s baseball coach, and in 1933 was appointed Capitola’s postmaster, a position he held for almost a quarter century. He was active in the community as well as a lifelong baseball fan and outdoorsman. In 1971, Harry Hooper was finally named to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., largely due to the efforts of his son John in documenting his achievements. Hooper’s plaque lauds his speed and strong arm, as well as his lifetime batting average of .281 with 2466 hits. In December of 1974, at the age of 87, Harry Hooper died in Santa Cruz, California. 

    For Further Reading

    Appel, Marty. Memories & Dreams: Harry Hooper (web page)

    An early baseball card featuring Harry Hooper is in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City (web page)

    The Massachusetts Historical Society has a medal created for the 1912 Red Sox championship team by Boston jeweller Frank A. Gendreau (web page)

    The website of the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. features information and statistics about Hooper’s career (website)

    Zingg, Paul J. Harry Hooper: An American Baseball Life Urbana: University of Chicago Press, 1993

    This comprehensive biography, from which all quotations were taken, was based on memorabilia, letters, and diaries held by family members.