Tommy Coggin was born 56 years ago, in Oakland, Iowa on the banks of the West Nishnabotna River. Oakland is a small town of less than 2 square miles, with a population of around 1,500 and Tommy is by far the most famous resident of the tiny farm community. Born to Rev. Tom and Virginia Coggin, Tommy was the youngest of 5 – and the only boy to the good reverend.
FYC’s own Scoop McGillicutty was able to spend some time with Tommy just yesterday at his farm equipment dealership, and here’s what the HOF had to say about his life in a small town, his career, and the transition after retirement.
Scoop: Born and raised in a small town in Iowa, how’d you feel when you found out you’d be starting your career in Boston?
Coggin: As a farm boy, I’d always assumed I’d play for Cheyenne, or Iowa City. In the world I was born in, FYC, Iowa City didn’t have a franchise so while I was disappointed, I knew I wouldn’t be playing in front of a hometown crowd. But Boston -man that was a culture shock. Not a lot of farms there in the city. I grew to love it though, and loved the people there. To this day, I still try to get back as often as possible, but I’ll always be a small town guy.
Scoop: You hold three of the top 5 HR seasons in history, and are still the HR king all these years later. What made you such a great HR hitter?
Coggin: My first season in the league, I was there every day to see Frank Thomas hit 67. Frank would have been great in this world if he’d spent his entire career here. His work ethic really helped me mirror my game after someone who was a real pro’s pro. Before Frank took me under his wing, I was basically a masher. Frank helped turn me into a more complete hitter.
Scoop: You’re the world’s all-time leader in career (908HR/2497RBI) and single season (76HR/203RBI) HRs and RBI, what are you most proud of?
Coggin: Well, the RBIs were certainly due in large part to some great teammates along the way. I’m proud that I am considered one of the best power hitters in history. I’m also quite proud that I never spent a day in the minors and that I never made a trip to the DL. I tried to take care of myself in order to help the team.
Scoop: Not a lot of guys have hit 70+HR 3 times and more than 60+ 8 times.
Coggin: Are there any others in that club? I don’t know. You should do the research.
Scoop: I write these for free Tommy. That sounds like a lot of research. One thing my research did show though was that you played SS for 6 innings back in S10. Having spent most of your days in LF or at 1B, could you have been a SS?
Coggin: HA! No idea what my manager was thinking there, but I didn’t make an error. A perfect career fielding % at SS. Not a lot of guys can say that. No, but really, at 6’2 220 pounds, I wasn’t built for shortstop. 1B was hard enough.
Scoop: Let’s talk a bit about the things you aren’t as proud of. What could you have done better in your career?
Coggin: There’s always room to improve, but I have to say, I was a terrible postseason hitter. Something about the postseason pitching just got to me.
Scoop: Yeah, in the regular season, you hit a HR every 12.9 ABs, but in the postseason, that number balloons to a HR every 24.4 ABs or so.
Coggin: You did your research after all Scoop. Yeah, of course I would like to have had more postseason success. It’s been great to be in the hall, and to be considered in the conversation of best power hitters of all time, but a ring would have been nice.
Scoop: You made more than $95M playing baseball. What’s life like back in Oakland, Iowa these days?
Coggin: It’s good. We’ve been able to start a farm equipment dealership, and that’s needed here in Oakland. My boys (Jocko and Frank) are both are both over 30 now, so they’ll be taking over the business soon. Probably time to truly retire.
Scoop: Hey Tommy, thanks for the time.
Coggin: Any time scoop. Let me know if you need a combine.