The PCL featured innumerable unique and colorful perosnalities during its history, and one of them was the great slugger, Lou Novikoff.
Novikoff began his pro athletic career as a fastpitch softball star in Southern California–once striking out 22 in eight innings. Having gone as far as he could in softball by age 22, was encouraged to try out for the Los Angeles Angels of the PCL, which were owned by Philip Wrigley. After being farmed out for two seasons, he joined LA and hit .452 at the end of the 1939 season. The next year he hit 41 HR and batted .363 and was Sporting News Minor League Player of the Year.
A great “bad ball” hitter and extremely superstitious, he got his motivation from his wife screaming at him from behind home plate as he batted, telling him what a lousy player he was. (This of course was pre-planned and she did not mean what she was saying).
Novikoff hit line drives so hard they would undress infielders, but would almost undress himself in efforts to catch fly balls. He might kiss home plate after hitting a home run. He would break into song on the diamond and was reportedly afraid of the ivy on the Wrigley Field wall, thinking it poison ivy. It was claimed that when the trainer convinced him it was harmless, he asked if it was possible to smoke it. He’d eat a dozen hot dogs in one sitting and traveled with a Russian wolfhound that claimed ate only caviar.
Although Novikoff hit .300 for the Cubs in 1942, he was less successful in other seasons and drove Cubs manager Jimmie Wilson crazy. He was dropped after the 1944 season and except for a stint with the Phillies in 1946, spent the rest of his career in the minors, including three seasons with the Seattle Rainiers. Novikoff hit .338 lifetime in the PCL with a .529 slugging average in six seasons.