Born May 21, 1902, in Snohomish, Howard Earl “The Rock” Averill would go on to become the greatest baseball player and, arguably, the most accomplished team-sport athlete ever to come from Snohomish County.
A severe arm injury suffered while in high school made Averill give up dreams of a baseball career so he went to work and played semi-pro ball. He was noticed by a scout from the San Francisco Seals of the Pacific Coast League who convinced him to join the minor league team in 1926 at the age of 24. In 1928, he batted .354, slugged 36 home runs and drove in an amazing 173 runs for San Francisco. His accomplishments drew the attention of the Cleveland Indians who bought his contract for a reported $50,000 – a great deal of money at that time.
The “earl of Snohomish” paid immediate dividends by hitting a homerun in his first Major League at-bat on opening day 1929. He would go on to hit .332 in his rookie season, the first of eight seasons in which he would top the .300 mark in batting average.
A six-time Major League All Star, Averill twice had more than 200 hits in a season including a league-leading 232 hits in 1936 when he finished second in the American League with a .378 average. Five times he exceeded 100 runs batted in for a season. He hit four home runs and drove in 11 runs during a 1930 double header.
Earl Averill played 13 seasons in the Majors and retired with a lifetime average of .318 and 238 home runs. As of 2010, he remained the Indians career leader in total bases, runs batted in, runs scored and triples. His #3 jersey was retired by the team in 1975, the same year he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Averill passed away in Everett on August 16, 1983.