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Henry Levai “Hank” Severeid

Severeid caught for four Major League teams between 1911 and 1926. He appeared in 1,390 games in that span, logging 4,312 at-bats, scoring 408 runs, and posting a lifetime .289 average and a .342 on-base percentage.

Born on June 1, 1891, in Story City, Iowa to Norwegian immigrants Lars and Maria (Naess) Severeid, Hank was the fifth child in the stone mason’s family. Two of his older brothers, Oscar and Charles, as well as younger brother Elmer, all played minor league ball, but only Hank was able to cross the gap and reach the Major Leagues. In 1899, Hank’s baseball career began as a batboy for the semi-pro team in Story City. Oscar, his eldest brother, had taught him the basics of the game, but even at the age of eight, the boy was expected to work full-time to help support the family.

After the 1914 campaign, and six years in the minor leagues, the St. Louis Browns bought Severeid’s contract and brought him to the Major Leagues. In 1918 Severeid joined the US Army Tank Corps, and he reached France just before the end of the First World War. In December 1920, living in St Louis, Severeid married Adele Bertha Messmer.

In 1924, Severeid finished sixth in the American League MVP vote after he hit.308 with a .362 OBP. Washington traded for Severeid in 1925, the same year that the Senators won the American League pennant. His World Series debut came in Game Six when he started in place of regular catcher Muddy Ruel. He went 1-for-3 in a 3-2 loss to the Pirates.

After hitting only .206 in twenty-two games for the Senators in 1926, the New York Yankees claimed him off of waivers. Once again, Severeid found himself going back to the World Series with the Bronx Bombers appearing in all seven World Series games against the Cardinals.

After 1926 he headed west, to the "other major league:" the Pacific Coast League (PCL). He signed with the Sacramento Senators and for the next three seasons proved to be an offensive weapon. He hit over .300 each year in Sacramento, including a .359 mark in 1929. He went to Hollywood to play for the Stars at Los Angeles’ Wrigley Field in 1931, and his .367 average helped the Stars win a PCL title.

In 1932, Severeid moved east to play for, and manage in, the Texas League. In 1933, he managed the San Antonio Missions to a Texas League title, and remained at the helm of the Missions through 1935. In 1936, he took a similar position as player-manager for the Omaha Robin Hoods of the Western League.

In 1937, at age 46 and serving as player-manager for Galveston, he caught both ends of the season-ending doubleheader. It was his final appearance as a player. He spent 1938 managing in Syracuse where he ran the Chiefs of the International League and scouted for the Cincinnati Reds. In 1939 and 1940, Severeid chose to serve as a full-time scout for the Reds.

Severeid got another shot at managing in 194 for Durham, and the Bulls won the Piedmont League title with an 84-53 record. He continued to scout the entire Texas region in 1942, but on behalf of the Chicago Cubs. From 1943 until his death in 1968, he was a San Antonio-based scout for the Boston Red Sox.

On December 17, 1968, the seventy-seven year old Severeid was preparing for the holidays at home in San Antonio when he suffered a fatal heart attack. He is buried at Sunset Memorial Park in San Antonio. He was the forty-fifth Iowan to be inducted into the Iowa Sports Hall of Fame.

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