Originally signed by the Yankees, from 1941-1959 Syracuse Baseball Wall of Famer Hank Sauer appeared in 1,399 MLB games for the Reds, Cubs, Cardinals, and Giants. During World War II, he missed all of 1944 and much of 1945 while serving in the US Coast Guard (thank you).
In his first full season back after the war, Sauer hit .282 with 21 home runs and 90 RBI for the Syracuse Chiefs in 1946. Still with the Chiefs in 1947, Sauer led the International League in runs scored (130), hits (182) and runs batted in (141); he slugged 50 homers, and hit .336. He was named the circuit's MVP, and Minor League Player of the Year by The Sporting News.
In 1948, at age 31, he finally became a regular in the outfield for the Reds and hit 35 home runs, at that time a club record.
Early in the 1949 season, Sauer was dealt to the Chicago Cubs and hit 11 homers in his first month with his new team. He quickly became immensely popular with Chicago fans, earning the nickname "The Mayor of Wrigley Field". At age 35 in 1952, he hit .270, led the National League with 37 home runs and 121 RBI. Despite the fact that he played for a fifth-place, .500 club, he was named NL MVP, the first time in baseball history a player from a second-division team won the award. Two years later, he hit a career-high 41 home runs and slugged .563.