Wednesday, May 8, 2013

#541- Cleveland Indians/Indians Team Records

OK, so here’s the poop for anyone who cares. I had to split for a bit and sometimes when I do that I pre-write the posts and post-date them so they go up on Blogger about once a day. Somehow I screwed that up and then completely lost this one which stinks since it is so damn long. So this one will probably come up around mid-May which will be a pretty big gap. Oh well. It couldn’t have happened to a more fitting post. The 1973 Cleveland Indians were not too crazily different from their other recent teams, except of course in the line-up. In fact, outside of Chris Chambliss not one position in ’73 was filled by the same regular guy as it was in ’71. That’s a lot of turnover and though the Tribe had some interesting young guys – Chambliss, Buddy Bell, Charlie Spikes, Dick Tidrow – come along during that span, the team also had to put up with the near constant raids by the Yankees that already claimed the team’s best slugger in Graig Nettles and would also soon claim Tidrow and Chambliss. It was also Ken Aspromonte’s second year managing and depending on who you asked Ken was either just a low-key guy or a manager who turned control of the team over to his ace Gaylord Perry and Perry’s goon, John Ellis. Either way, between the turnover, the lack of real authority, and the uneven performances the team never got any real traction and finished with yet another losing record. Things needed to change and in about a year they would with an historical appointment that worked, at least for a while. Here the team looks a bit bleached out posing at home and I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a guy in a windbreaker with the coaches before. Oscar Gamble and his afro are easy to spot as is pretty much everyone else. And this will be a split post so nothing on the checklist until the next one.

That was some team in ’54 and it’s pretty crazy how after all those wins it went down so fast to the Giants. Blame Willy Mays I guess. Here we go on the bio’s:

Leon “Daddy Wags” Wagner was covered on the Angels team post.

Carl Lind, first real name Henry, was a New Orleans guy through and through. He went to Tulane after high school where he played ball through ’25 – he was team captain in ’23 – and from the school photos of him appeared to have either also played hoops or run track. He was admitted to the school’s hall of fame in 1980 but there is no associated bio out there. Carl signed with Peoria in ’26 and in the B league that year hit .292 while playing shortstop. He then spent most of ’27 in A ball at Denver where he upped his average to .331 before playing a couple games in Double A and then being sold to the Indians for a September call-up. He only hit .135 in his few games but did nice work at second base and so was given the starting gig there in ’28. He did a nice job, leading the AL in at bats while hitting .294 and scoring 102 runs with 42 doubles. He returned to that role in ’29 and started off the season swimmingly defensively and after an April set against Detroit in which he recorded eight double plays was on a record pace for that statistic. But offensively he was in trouble and took until the end of May to get his average above .200. He’d contracted malaria in winter ball and it was surmised that his health was pretty bad for a bit. He spent the summer of ’29 on the DL and finished the year at .240 in 225 at bats. In ’30 it was more of the same except the Tribe sent him down much earlier, ending his career up top with a .272 average in 256 games. He finished out the year in A ball where he hit .307 and in ’31 hit only .226 in a season split between A and Double A. He hit .264 in A ball in ’32, his last regular season. For a short while he seems to have worked locally in the New Orleans area as a college hoops referee and may or may not have later coached at that level. Info on him pretty much dries up then and even baseball-reference has a tough time, indicating he died in both 1946 and 2001.

Earl Averill grew up in Snohomish, Washington where he played local rec ball until he had to leave school and work at age 15 in about 1917. He got re-involved with local ball around 1920 and was good enough that people in his hometown paid for him to go to Seattle for a tryout with a team loosely affiliated with the Indians in ‘24. He didn’t make the cut, joined a local team in Bellingham, WA, where he hit about .269 before upping that big to over .400 in ’25. That got him signed by the San Francisco Seals, the PCL powerhouse, where over the next three seasons Earl averaged about .342 on way over 200 hits – the PCL played about 190 games a year back then – and 27 homers as a center fielder. In ’29 he was sold to Cleveland and he was a huge hitter right off the bat, hitting .332 his rookie year, with 110 runs and 96 RBI’s. Earl would have a great ten-year run for the Tribe, during which he averaged .325 on about 190 hits, 115 runs, 37 doubles, 12 triples, 23 homers, and 108 RBI’s per year, including a ’35 season when he had to play with a blistered hand because a firecracker had gone of in it on July Fourth. He bounced big to have his biggest season in ’36 with a .378 average on an AL-leading 232 hits and 15 triples. In ’37 he developed a spinal condition that killed his stroke, though he continued to be the regular center fielder through ’38, hitting .330 that season. During the ’39 season he was traded to Detroit where he finished the year as the reular guy in left and in ’40 finally saw some post-season action as a reserve. He finished up with the Boston Braves in ’41 with a .318 average on 2,019 hits, 238 homers, 128 triples, and 1,164 RBI’s in about eleven full seasons. He went hitless in his Series at bats and made each of the first eight All-Star teams. He finished the ’41 season back in Seattle of the PCL – he hit .325 – and then retired from playing back to his hometown where he helped run the family greenhouse business. That he did until 1950 when he bought a motel that he ran the next twenty years. He retired in ’70, made the Hall in ’75, and passed away in ’83 from pneumonia at 81. He has a great bio linked to here.

Joe Jackson is covered on the White Sox team page.

Charlie Jamieson was a Jersey kid who grew up in Paterson (he went to the same high school as Larry Doby). Signed by Buffalo, a Double A team, in 1912 when he was 19, he kicked off his career as a pitcher and his first two years went a combined 27-17 with a 2.97 ERA. In ’14 he started putting in some outfield time and while his pitching stats fell a bunch to 3-8 and a 4.60 ERA, he hit .308 that year. In ’15 it was all outfield as he hit .307 in 138 games. He was sold to the Senators that September and hit .279 that final month. After another season-plus of little use he was selected off waivers by the A’s in July ’17. Though he got more regular time the rest of that season and the next his numbers weren’t so hot and prior to the ’19 season he went to Cleveland in a trade. That year he had to do after-war service work and he missed pretty much the whole season. But in ’20 he gradually worked his way into the regular spot in left, hit .319 and began his eleven seasons as the regular guy there. While with the Tribe he averaged .316 with a .390 OBA and about 89 runs a season. He had his biggest year in ’23 when he led the AL with 222 hits and hit .345. The next year he hit .359. He batted over .300 eight of his eleven full seasons and twice had over 200 hits. He wound things down in ’31 and ’32 and then played a final season in Jersey City in ’33 when he was 40. Charlie finished up top with a .303 average on 1,990 hits and hit .333 in six games in the ’20 Series. He also pitched a bit and went a combined 2-1 with a 6.19 ERA in 48 innings. While playing he frequently played in local fall leagues back in Jersey under an assumed name, though everybody knew it was him. He returned to the Paterson area full time where I have been unable to find what he did professionally. He passed away there in ’69 at age 76.

George Burns was called Tioga George after a town in PA near where he grew up in Philly to distinguish him from another George Burns who was playing when this George came up to The Show. After leaving school at 16 to play local ball, George eventually worked his way to the pros by the time he was 20 in ’13 in D and A ball out west, hitting .338 at the lower level and .301 at the higher one. He was sold to Detroit prior to the ’14 season and hit .291 his rookie year as the team’s regular first baseman. He remained with Detroit through ’17 putting up decent but unspectacular numbers, peaking in ’16 with a .286 average and 73 RBI’s. He was then sold to the Yankees and flipped to the A’s and hit .352 his first year in Philly on an AL-leading 178 hits. His average fell to .296 the next year and shortly into the ’20 season he was sold to Cleveland for his first round with the Tribe. While he barely played as a back-up first baseman he did hit .300 with three RBI’s in the Series that year. After another season of back-up work in ’21 – though he hit .361 with 49 RBI’s in 224 at bats – he was traded to Boston, took over first for the Sox, and averaged .317 with totals of 19 homers and 155 RBI’s his two seasons there. He then returned to the Tribe where he settled into a regular gig at first the next few years. After putting up comparable numbers to his Boston ones the next two seasons he broke out in an MVP ’26 season, hitting .358 with 115 RBI’s, an AL-leading 216 hits and a record-setting 64 doubles. After settling back to his pre-’26 level in ’27 – but with 51 doubles – he spent the next two seasons playing sparingly for Cleveland, the Yankees, and back with the A’s. He finished with MLB marks of .307 with 444 doubles, 72 homers, 952 RBI’s, and 2,018 hits. In the post-season he hit .250 in six games. Somehow while playing up top George also managed to manage – oops – teams in the minors his last three seasons. He did that again briefly in ’30 before that season moving out to play and then both manage and play in the PCL. He hit well out there for those super long seasons, averaging about .337 in his five years as a regular. He then relocated to Seattle full time and became a deputy in the sheriff’s department which he did through his retirement in ’68. He passed away early in ’78 from cancer at age 84. He has a SABR bio.

Al Rosen was a Jewish kid who was born in South Carolina and grew up in Florida where he played ball through bouts of asthma and boxed to defend his heritage. He became awfully good at both and after high school continued to do so at the University of Florida for a year. He left school in ’42 to play pro ball and signed with a D affiliate of the Indians where he hit .307 that summer. He then went into the Navy for WW II where he was in the Pacific Theater until early ’46. He returned that summer to C ball and hit .323 with 16 homers and 86 RBI’s and then moved to Double A the next year where he exploded with a .349/25/141 season and then got some token at bats that Fall with the Tribe as he would the next couple seasons. In both ’48 and ’49 he put up big numbers in Triple A before a mid-year call-up that second season. Initially in Cleveland Al had to play third behind Ken Keltner but in ’50 he finally gained the starting spot and, still a rookie, led the AL with a then rookie record 37 homers, hitting .287 with 116 RBI’s and a .405 OBA. In ’51 he disappointed himself with a .265/24/102 year but bounced in ’52 with a .302.28/105 season in which he led the AL in RBI’s. That was also the first of his four successive All-Star seasons. His MVP season came in ’53 when he narrowly missed the Triple Crown with a .335/43/145 season in which he lost the hitting title by .001 to Mickey Vernon. He also led the AL with 115 runs and had an OBA of .422. But Al had a bad back and after a ’54 season of .300/24/102 he faded pretty fast the next two seasons and voluntarily retired after the ’56 one. Al put up a .285 average with 192 homers and 717 RBI’s and .384 OBA in basically six full seasons. He only struck out about once every ten at bats, pretty good for a power guy. In the post-season he hit .231 in four games. After playing he became a broker in Cleveland with Bache and Company, a forerunner of what is now Prudential. He did that for 17 years while also coaching in the spring. He then left to work in casino management which he did until ’78 when he was hired to be GM of the Yankees, a frustrating task under the Boss. Al lasted through that year’s title and then quit in ’79 after being frustrated with his role (Sparky Lyle was not a fan in “The Bronx Zoo”) and then returned to casino management for a couple years. In ’80 he became GM of the Astros and though his time there was frustrating as well the team went 386-372 through ’85 when he left. He then took the same role in San Francisco where he helped revive the Giants to two playoff appearances and helped the team go 589-475 through ’92 when he retired to California, where he continues to reside. Al has a SABR page as well.

I always want to put an extra T in Hal Trosky’s name and turn him into a revolutionary but Hal actually had a pretty mellow youth while growing up on his dad’s farm in Iowa. A big three sports guy in high school, he was signed by a local scout of the Indians when he graduated in ‘31, hit .302 his first summer in D ball, and .322 in ’32 in a season split mostly between D and B ball. Hal batted cross-handed, a habit he continued in the majors. In ’33 he hit .323 with 33 homers in Double A and then .295 in his September call-up for the Tribe. His first play at first base he fielded a liner by Babe Ruth that was hit so hard it knocked his glove into right field. He then had a huge rookie year in ’34 during which he hit .330 with 35 homers and 142 RBI’s. In ’35 his numbers faded a bit to a .271/26/113 season. In ’36 he had his biggest year with a .343/42/162 season as his RBI total led the AL along with his total bases. The next three years he averaged .321/25/114 seasons but his playing time decreased each season as he began experiencing incapacitating migraine headaches. In ’40 his numbers dropped to .295/25/93 and his RBI totals coming in at under 100 bummed him a bunch. In ’41 as team captain he relegated himself to platoon work at first and after a .294/11/51 half-season he took himself out of the line-up full time to return to Iowa, farm for the war effort, and try to solve his headache issues. After sitting out all of ’42 and ’43 he returned in ’44 to play for the White Sox and as their first baseman hit .271 with ten homers and 70 RBI’s to lead the team. The headaches again took him out of action in ’45 and he returned to Chicago in ’46 to hit .254 in his final season. He finished with a .302 average, 228 homers, and 1,012 RBI’s. In ’47 he managed a local semi-pro team and for the next few seasons worked as a scout for the ChiSox. He continued farming through ’62 when he took a gig selling agricultural real estate, which he did a bit over ten years. He passed away of a heart attack at home in ’79 at age 66.eHHeHYeHJh

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