Henry “Cotton” Knapp – Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame
New Orleans Pelicans
Henry Antone “Cotton” Knaupp was a right-handed middle infielder with the New Orleans Pelicans from 1911 to 1923 after a stint in the Major Leagues with the Cleveland Naps (later the Cleveland Indians). He played more games (1,555) in the Southern Association than any other player in the league’s 60-year history and he also turned the only unassisted triple play in the league’s history.
Knaupp, who helped the Pelicans to three Southern Association Championships (1911, 1915, 1923), holds the Pelicans’ records for most games played (1,476), most sacrifices (333) and most put-outs for second basemen (3,198).
His memorable triple play came on August 8, 1916 against the Chattanooga Lookouts. With the bases loaded in the sixth inning, Knaupp, playing second base, caught a line drive off for the first out, reached out to tag the runner coming from first for the second out, and then trotted to the second-base bag to get the third out as the runner couldn’t get back in time.
Born in San Antonio on August 13, 1889, Knaupp established himself as a standout player on the sandlots of San Antonio. He was signed by Cleveland in 1910 and made his Major League debut later that same year. He opened the 1911 season as the starting shortstop.
“He covers a mile of territory and there is not a ball hit within hailing distance that he does not go after. … Clevelanders have not seen a man … that can whip the ball across the diamond as this diminutive athlete can,” wrote the Cleveland Plain-Dealer during spring training.
However, Knaupp struggled with the bat and was sent to New Orleans by May. His big league career was done after 31 total games.
Knaupp died in New Orleans on July 6, 1967 at the age of 77.