"The Horse" Danning was a four-time Major League
All Star catcher for the New York Giants from 1933 to 1942.
He hit better than .300 three consecutive seasons (1938
to 1940) and finished his career with a .285 batting average.
Danning did not become a New York starting player until his
fifth big league season (1937), and then only because the
Giants' everyday catcher was injured. In 1938, his first
full season in the starting line-up, Danning hit .306. He
was chosen as the replacement catcher on the National League
All Star Team. Hitting .313 in 1939 and .300 in 1940, he
would again be named the NL’s All Star backstop both
years, as well as in the 1941 season.
Behind the plate, "The Horse" caught
three of the National League's premier pitchers:
Carl Hubbell, Fred Fitzsimmons, and Hal Schumacher. At
the start of the Giants' 1939 season, manager Bill
Terry said of the man he kept on the bench the better part
of five years: "Danning will be the best catcher
in the National League this year, possibly in baseball,
and I include [Gabby] Hartnett and [Bill] Dickey."
After the 1942 season, Danning was drafted into three years of military service. When World War II ended, he decided not to resume his baseball career.
Danning was dubbed "The Horse" by sportscaster
Ted Husing during the 1936 World Series. Noting the hardworking
manner of the Giants' substitute catcher (he played
briefly in the Yankees 4-2 victory over the Giants),
Husing borrowed "Harry the Horse" from one
of journalist Damon Runyon's cast of offbeat characters.
Ike Danning, Harry’s older brother, preceded him
as a Major League player. Also a catcher, Ike saw limited
action as a member of the American League’s 1928
St. Louis Browns, batting .500, with three hits in six