Coal Miner’s Son (with a Rifle Arm)

 

The Glove Club: Larry Brown

Larry Brown was an excellent infielder who rarely hit and even more rarely struck out. He made contact often enough that you could count on his bat to advance the runner, but probably not drive that runner in.

What kept Brown in the major leagues for a dozen years was his skill in the field. Continue reading

What’s the Catch?

 

The Glove Club: Del Crandall

If you were going to “build” the catcher you needed in the 1950s, you couldn’t have worked from a better prototype than Del Crandall.

His defense was superb. He was mostly head-and-shoulders above his National League counterparts during the 1950s and into the 1960s. Continue reading

The Mark of a Master

 

The Glove Club: Mark Belanger

By all human logic, it would seem to be impossible to stand out as a defensive player in an infield that featured the greatest defensive third baseman who ever played the game. But Mark Belanger did. He joined the Baltimore Orioles infield in 1967, and spent most of his major league career playing shortstop beside the incomparable Brooks Robinson. Continue reading

Pep at First

 

The Glove Club: Joe Pepitone

When the New York Yankees were looking to bolster their starting rotation following the 1962 season, they considered Bill Skowron expendable because of a first sacker they had waiting in the wings: Joe Pepitone. By trading Skowron to the Los Angeles Dodgers for starting pitcher Stan Williams, the Yankees opened the door to the left-handed hitting Pepitone, who brought a better first-base glove to the Yankee infield while expected to provide the same level of run production that the Yankees had gotten from “Moose” Skowron the previous five seasons.

As the New York Yankees’ first baseman for most of the 1960s, Joe Pepitone won three Gold Gloves.

As the New York Yankees’ first baseman for most of the 1960s, Joe Pepitone won three Gold Gloves.

Pepitone was signed by the Yankees in 1958 and made his debut in New York 4 seasons later, hitting .239 in 63 games. In 1963, he inherited Skowron’s first base position on a full-time basis, and responded by batting .271 with 27 home runs and 89 RBIs. In 1964, Pepitone’s batting average slipped to .251, but his power numbers increased to 28 home runs and 100 RBIs.

The 1964 season also was the one when Pepitone emerged as one of the American League’s premier first basemen. He led the league in putouts, assists and double plays at first base. He won the Gold Glove in 1965, 1966 and 1969. A versatile athlete, Pepitone moved to the Yankees’ outfield as needed, and played more games in the outfield than at first base in 1967 and 1968.

From 1963 through 1969, Pepitone averaged 23 home runs and 75 RBIs per season.But his decline in run productivity coincided with the Yankees’ decline in the standings. After hitting a career-best 31 home runs in 1966, he hit only 28 home runs combined over the next two seasons. His bat revived in 1969, as Pepitone returned to first place full time, hitting 27 home runs and winning hit third Gold Glove.

Joe Pepitone averaged 23 home runs and 75 RBIs for the Yankees from 1963-1969. His best season as a Yankee came in 1964, when he hit 28 home runs with 100 RBIs and led American League first basemen in putouts, assists and double plays.

Joe Pepitone averaged 23 home runs and 75 RBIs for the Yankees from 1963-1969. His best season as a Yankee came in 1964, when he hit 28 home runs with 100 RBIs and led American League first basemen in putouts, assists and double plays.

Following the 1969 season, the Yankees traded Pepitone to the Houston Astros for outfielder Curt Blefary. He hit .251 in 75 games for Houston before being purchased by the Chicago Cubs, where he replaced Ernie Banks at first base. His combined batting numbers for 1970 included 26 home runs and 79 RBIs.

Pepitone played three more seasons in Chicago. He hit .307 for the Cubs in 1971 with 16 home runs and 61 RBIs. In 1973 he was traded to the Atlanta Braves for Andre Thornton, but played in only three games for the Braves before retiring at age 32.

Pepitone finished with a career batting average of .258. He had 1,315 hits and 219 home runs. He was a member of the All-Star team three times.

Johnny Clutch

 

The Glove Club – Johnny Edwards

For more than a dozen years, Johnny Edwards was one of the best defensive catchers in the National League.

Johnny Edwards was the National League’s Gold Glove catcher in 1963 and 1964. He led the league in fielding percentage four times.

Johnny Edwards was the National League’s Gold Glove catcher in 1963 and 1964. He led the league in fielding percentage four times.

Edwards was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, and was signed by the Cincinnati Redlegs in 1959 after playing in college for the Ohio State Buckeyes. He was called up to Cincinnati in 1961, batting .186 in 52 games as the backup to Jerry Zimmerman. By 1962, he was Cincinnati’s starting catcher, hitting .254 with eight home runs, 50 RBIs and a career-best 28 doubles.

From 1962 through 1965, Edwards averaged 130 games per season and batted a combined .265. He also averaged 11 home runs and 56 RBIs per season, while appearing in three All-Star games. He also won the Gold Glove in 1963 and 1964.

His best season with the Reds came in 1964. Edwards batted .281 with seven home runs and 55 RBIs.

In February of 1968, the Reds traded Edwards to the St. Louis Cardinals for Pat Corrales and Jimy Williams. In his lone season in St. Louis, Edwards batted .239 with three home runs and 29 RBIs. Then he was dealt to the Houston Astros for Dave Adlesh and Dave Giusti. In his six seasons in Houston, Edwards batted a combined .237 while averaging four home runs and 33 RBIs.

What kept Edwards in the lineup was not his bat as much as his durability and his defense. He averaged 126 games from 1969 through 1972, and during that period he led the league twice in assists and in putouts in 1969. Edwards led the league in assists four times during his career and once more in putouts (1963).

Edwards retired after the 1974 season with a .242 career batting average.

 

Top_10_Reds_Cover

 

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