History has judged President James Buchanan a failure, one of the worst presidents in American history.
The reason: an inability to impose peace on increasingly divided nation that had been careening toward sectional war for years.
In reality, it was a challenge that few of America’s great leaders - from any period of history – could have pulled off.
As a result, Buchanan became the yin to successor Abraham Lincoln’s yang in terms of presidential legacies.
But, as the New York Times’ excellent ongoing series “Disunion” explains, Buchanan was anything but a patsy:
Former Major League first baseman Art Mahan died earlier this week at the age of 97. He’s unlikely to ring many bells among baseball fans, even diehard Phillies followers, as Mahan played but one season in The Show - 1940.
On top of that, the Somerville, Mass., native performed for one of the more awful teams of the era. Mahan hit .244 with two homers and 39 runs batted in for a 1940 Phillies squad that finished with a 50-103 record, a full 50 games out of first.
Mahan, who would later go on to serve as head baseball coach and athletic director at Villanova University, did have one claim to fame during the 1940 season: he led the Phillies in stolen bases.
In fact, he had 33 percent more stolen bases than the next closest player on his team, the delightfully named Ham Schulte, and twice as many or more as everyone else on the club. In all, Mahan managed to record 16 percent of all Philadelphia’s stolen bases that year.
Problem was, Mahan’s total number of stolen bases for the entire 1940 season – a season in which he appeared in 146 games – was a whopping four.