First in Fleet

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Tommy McCraw

No first baseman better fit his team in the 1960s than did Tommy McCraw for the Chicago White Sox. In contrast to the kind of lumbering slugger normally stationed at first base, McCraw brought a deft glove and plenty of speed to first base in Chicago, matching the strengths of White Sox teams that were consistent contenders throughout much of the 1960s.

Speed and defense (along with consistently outstanding pitching) were what kept the Chicago White Sox in pennant contention for most of the 1960s. Tommy McCraw brought both to the White Sox infield. His best season in Chicago came in 1967, when he hit doubles, drove in 45 runs, and stole 24 bases.

McCraw was signed by the White Sox in 1960. It took three years of minor league seasoning for him to earn his way onto the major league roster, but he took over everyday first base duties midway through the 1963 season, finishing with a .254 batting average, six home runs and 33 RBIs.

The White Sox teams of the 1960s relied on pitching, speed and defense. Home runs might be nice, but Chicago knew how to scratch out runs with heady base-running and timely hitting – an offensive approach that matched McCraw’s skills. He had 48 RBIs in 1966, fourth highest on the team. But he got those 48 RBIs on only 89 hits, and only five home runs.

McCraw’s best overall hitting season for the White Sox came in 1967. He hit only .236 (third best on a club that hit .225) with 18 doubles, 11 home runs, 45 RBIs and 24 stolen bases. He hit .258 for the White Sox in 1969 and .220 in 1970, his last season in Chicago.

In 1971 McCraw was traded to the Washington Senators for Ed Stroud. He hit .213 in 1971, his only season with the Senators and the franchise’s last year in Washington. Then he was traded with Roy Foster to the Cleveland Indians for Ted Ford. He hit .258 for Cleveland in 1972 and was traded to the California Angels for Leo Cardenas.

McCraw batted .265 for the Angels in 1973. He split the 1974 season between California and a return to Cleveland, hitting a career-high .294. McCraw batted .275 for the Indians in 1975 before retiring.

McCraw played 13 seasons in the major leagues, hitting .246 with 75 home runs and 404 RBIs. He also

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