Unerring Shortstop

 

The Glove Club: Eddie Brinkman

For the 1960s at least, Eddie Brinkman was the epitome of the good field, no hit shortstop. His prowess in the infield was so exceptional that in 1972, in addition to winning the Gold Glove award that season, Brinkman finished ninth in the American League MVP voting … despite a .203 batting average. Surprisingly, that was the only season when Brinkman actually won a Gold Glove.

Great range and a sure glove made Eddie Brinkman the Washington Senators’ everyday shortstop by age 21.

Great range and a sure glove made Eddie Brinkman the Washington Senators’ everyday shortstop by age 21.

Brinkman was born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, and played on the same high school baseball team with Pete Rose. Brinkman was highly recruited in high school and, at the time, was considered a far superior prospect than Rose.

He signed with the Washington Senators (for a $75,000 bonus) in 1961 and made his debut with the Senators at age 19 at the end of the 1961 season. Of course, those Washington Senators were a first-year expansion team (with the “old” Senators having moved on to become the Minnesota Twins). There wasn’t that much talent standing in Brinkman’s way, and he made the big league club for keeps during the 1962.

By 1963, Brinkman was the Senators’ everyday shortstop, handling both the routine and difficult plays with the same fluid grace. During his decade with the Senators, his best single-season batting average came in 1969 when he hit .266, which would be his career high. No doubt Brinkman benefitted from having available the hitting expertise of the team’s manager that season, Hall of Famer Ted Williams.

It’s was Brinkman’s glove that kept him in the lineup, and made him so valuable to every team he played for.

Under the tutelage of manager Ted Williams, Eddie Brinkman hit a career-best .266 for the Senators in 1969.

Under the tutelage of manager Ted Williams, Eddie Brinkman hit a career-best .266 for the Senators in 1969.

After 10 seasons with the Senators, he was part of an eight-player trade in 1971 that sent Brinkman, third baseman Aurelio Rodriguez and pitchers Joe Coleman and Jim Hannan  to the Detroit Tigers in exchange for Denny McLain, Don Wert, Elliott Maddox, and Norm McRae. In 1972, Brinkman had his best overall season, both in the field and at bat, while helping the Tigers win the Eastern Division championship. He led all American League shortstops with a .990 fielding percentage and had 233 putouts and 495 assists in 156 games. At one point during the 1972 season, he had a streak of 72 games without an error, handling 331 total chances.

After four seasons with Detroit, Brinkman spent the 1975 season with four different teams, playing for three of them. He was traded to the San Diego Padres, and on that same day was traded by the Padres with a player to be named later to the St. Louis Cardinals for Rich Folkers, Alan Foster and Sonny Siebert. He played in only 28 games with the Cardinals, and then was traded with Tommy Moore to the Texas Rangers for Willie Davis. After one appearance with the Rangers, Brinkman was purchased by the New York Yankees. He was released by the Yankees just prior to the 1976 season, and retired after 15 major league seasons.

Brinkman was an All-Star once, in 1973.

Power with a Drawl

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Bubba Phillips.

When you hear the nickname “Bubba,” you automatically think of an old-school Southern boy. And John Melvin Phillips was … a Southern boy who played a powerful good third base and could occasionally hit with power.He was cool under fire and strong in clutch situations, playing 10 years in the major leagues for three different American League teams.

Bubba Phillips

Bubba Phillips

A multi-sport athlete, Bubba Phillips was a high school football star who led the nation in scoring as a senior and attended the University of Southern Mississippi, where he starred in both football and baseball. The Detroit Tigers signed Phillips in 1948. He made his debut in Detroit (as an outfielder) in 1955, batting .234 with three home runs and 23 RBIs in 95 games.

After one season in Detroit, he was traded to the Chicago White Sox for pitcher Virgil Trucks. Phillips started the 1956 season in the minors but finished the season in Chicago, batting .273. In four seasons with the White Sox, he batted a combined .269 and averaged five home runs and 31 runs batted in.

In December of 1959, the White Sox traded Phillips with Norm Cash and John Romano to the Cleveland Indians for Dick Brown, Don Ferrarese, Minnie Minoso and Jake Striker. Phillips’ best seasons came during his three-year tour with the Indians. In 1961 he batted .264 with 18 home runs and 72 RBIs. In 1963, Phillips batted .258 with 26 doubles, 10 home runs and 54 RBIs. Following the 1963 season, the Indians traded Phillips to the Tigers to make room for Max Alvis at third base.

Phillips hit .246 for the Tigers in 1963, with five home runs and 45 RBIs. In 1964, his starting role at third base was won by Don Wert, and Phillips appeared in only 46 games, batting .253 before retiring. Phillips collected 835 hits during his 10-year major league career, including 135 doubles and 62 home runs. He finished with a .255 career batting average.