Glancing Back, and Remembering Don Demeter
Don Demeter’s well-traveled major league career had plenty of ups and downs. His best “ups” ranked him among the most productive hitters in baseball.
Don Demeter broke into the major leagues with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He was a key player in the Dodgers’ successful 1959 pennant run, batting .256 with 18 home runs and 70 runs batted in.
Demeter was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1953. He finally broke into the Dodgers’ lineup as a regular in 1959, hitting 18 home runs with 70 RBIs for that season’s World Series champions.
At the start of the 1961 season, the Dodgers traded Demeter with Charley Smith to the Philadelphia Phillies for pitcher Turk Farrell and infielder Joe Koppe. In Philadelphia, Demeter came into his prime, hitting 21 home runs with 70 RBIs for the 1961 season.
In 1962, Demeter batted .307 with 29 home runs and 107 RBIs. His power numbers slipped slightly in 1963, as Demeter finished the year with 22 home runs and 83 RBIs.
In December of 1963, the Phillies traded Demeter and pitcher Jack Hamilton to the Detroit Tigers for pitcher Jim Bunning and catcher Gus Triandos. It may be the best trade the Phillies ever made. Bunning, who had already won 100 games in the American League, went on to become the first 100-game winner in both leagues en route to a Hall of Fame career.
With the Philadelphia Phillies in 1962, Demeter hit .307 with 29 home runs and 107 RBIs. He finished 12th in the voting for National League MVP.
Demeter, the centerpiece of the trade for Detroit, went on to hit 22 home runs for the Tigers with 80 RBIs in 1964. His offensive numbers would never be that strong again. Demeter slipped to 16 home runs and 58 RBIs in 1965, and in 1966 he was involved in a trade for another starting pitcher, going to the Boston Red Sox for Earl Wilson. Wilson blossomed into a 20-game winner for the Tigers, while Demeter’s offensive stats continued to decline.
Demeter spent a little over one season with the Red Sox, and closed out his career with the Cleveland Indians in 1967, batting .207 with five home runs and 12 RBIs in 51 games.
Demeter finished his major league career with a .265 batting average and 163 home runs. From 1961-1964, Demeter averaged 24 home runs with 85 RBIs.
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