Glancing Back, and Remembering Gary Geiger
Gary Geiger was a speedy outfielder who managed to string together a 12-season major league career despite several injuries and physical ailments that limited his performance on the field. Nevertheless, he was a talented athlete with speed on the base paths, and a fan favorite wherever he played.
Geiger was signed as a pitcher and as an outfielder by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1954. In 1957, he was drafted by the Cleveland Indians (as an outfielder) and made his major league debut in a Tribe uniform in 1958, batting .231 in 91 games during his rookie season.
There was little room for Geiger in a Cleveland outfield that already featured Rocky Colavito, Roger Maris, Carroll Hardy and the recently acquired Minnie Minoso, so the Indians dealt Geiger and Vic Wertz to the Boston Red Sox for Jim Piersall. Geiger hit .245 for the Red Sox in 1959 and .302 in 1960. However, both of those seasons were abbreviated by health problems. He appeared in only 77 games in 1960 due to a collapsed lung.
Geiger managed to play a full season in 1961, batting .232 and leading the Red Sox with 18 home runs. He batted .249 in 1962 and .263 in 1963, but those would be his last seasons as a full-time player. On- and off-the-field health problems limited his playing time for the rest of his career. He played for two seasons with the Atlanta Braves and one season with the Houston Astros before retiring after five games in the 1970 season.
Geiger finished his career with a .246 lifetime batting average.