James Phillip "Jimmy" Austin (b. 8th Dec 1879, d. 6th March 1965) was a professional baseball player and coach.

Austin was born in Swansea, Wales, the son of a shipbuilder. He was one of only two Major League ballplayers to be born in Wales (the other being pitcher Ted Lewis). His father moved to the USA in 1885 to find work, and Jimmy followed in 1887.

After leaving school in 1889, Austin became an apprentice machinist with Westinghouse. After finishing his four-year apprenticeship, Westinghouse went on strike. Austin took up an offer of $40 a month, plus a job, to play independent ball in Warren, Ohio. He returned to Westinghouse that fall, but in the spring of 1904 signed with the Central League Dayton, Ohio club.

Austin remained in Dayton until 1907, when he was sold to Omaha in the Western League. He stole 97 bases for Omaha in 1908, and at the end of the season was sold to the New York Highlanders, of the American League.

He made his Major League debut in 1909 at the relatively advanced age of 28. He played two seasons in New York, but was traded to the St. Louis Browns in 1911 by new Highlanders manager Hal Chase, thus beginning a thirty-year career with the Browns as player and coach.

In 1913, when Browns player-manager George Stovall was suspended by the American League for spitting at an umpire, Austin was made manager on a temporary basis, until replaced by the legendary Branch Rickey in his first managerial job. Austin continued as Rickey's Sunday Manager - Rickey had promised his mother that he would not enter a ballpark on Sundays, and therefore Austin managed the Browns on those days.

Austin played regularly for the Browns until 1921, and served as a coach for another 20 years. In 1929, at the age of 49, Austin became one of the oldest ever major leaguers when he was inserted into a blowout. He cleanly handled two chances at third base, and struck out in his only at bat.

Austin was one of the old-time ballplayers who told his story in Lawrence Ritter's classic book Glory of Their Times, from whence much of the information in this article came.

External Links