He was a slashing line-drive hitter, often smacking the ball right back through the box, which, many say, is the test of a good hitter.
- Historian Lee Allen on Bressler in 'The Cincinnati Reds'
Raymond Bloom Bressler was 19 years old when he debuted in the Major Leagues with Connie Mack's great Philadelphia Athletics team in 1914. Mack's A's were the reigning world champions and had won three of the last four World Series. The talented Bressler -- nicknamed "Rube" after Hall of Famer Rube Waddell -- appeared in 29 games for the A's in 1914 and posted a 10-4 record and a staff-best 1.77 ERA. The A's were swept in the 1914 World Series by Boston's "Miracle" Braves, and the defeat, coupled with escalating player salaries brought on by the emergence of the Federal League, prompted Mack to dismantle his dynastic club. The A's sank to the bottom of the standings in 1915, and Bressler sank with them. Continuing to suffer the effects of an arm injury he incurred during the 1914 stretch run, Bressler finished the 1915 season with a 4-17 record and an inflated 5.20 ERA. Bressler's decline continued in 1916 and culminated with his release from the A's.
Bressler was signed by the Reds late in the 1917 season and by 1918, he emerged as an effective spot starter and, for the first time in his career, put in some time in the outfield. During the Reds' championship season of 1919, Bressler again saw action on the mound but appeared with much greater frequency as an outfielder. In 1920, Bressler suffered another arm injury that ended his pitching career. Determined to remain in baseball, Bressler directed his efforts at honing his outfield skills and learning to play first base. He benefited from having Hall of Famer Edd Roush as his outfield tutor and learned the finer points of playing first base from Jake Daubert.
Bressler adopted a batting stance that featured a deep crouch, and he held the bat with his hands spread apart for better bat control. As a result, Bressler rarely struck out and learned to slap the ball to all fields. In his first full season as a position player, Bressler hit an impressive .307 in 323 at-bats. He went on to bat over .300 on four occasions, including marks of .347 and .348 in 1924 and 1925, respectively, and a league-best .357 in 1926 -- though he did not have enough at-bats to qualify for the batting title.
Claimed off waivers by the Brooklyn Dodgers following the 1926 season, Bressler went on to post four more productive seasons before retiring after brief stints with the Phillies and Cardinals in 1932. The move to Brooklyn allowed Bressler to continue an impressive, if unintentional, streak of having future Hall of Famers as roommates on road trips. In Philadelphia, Bressler had roomed with Chief Bender, in Cincinnati it was Eppa Rixey, and Dazzy Vance was his roommate with Brooklyn.
Bressler entered the Reds Hall of Fame in 1963 along with Harry Craft, Noodles Hahn and former teammate Heinie Groh. Bressler settled in Cincinnati following his playing career and died in his adopted hometown in 1966.