Going Goo Goo

 

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.

Gary Geiger led the Boston Red Sox with 18 home runs in 1961. His 64 RBIs that season were a career high.

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.

Hall of Fame Travel Companion

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Al Smith

Outfielder Al Smith was traded three times during his 12-year major league career. In the first two of those trades, to Chicago and to Baltimore, Smith had the distinction of being traded with a future Hall of Famer. He also distinguished himself as a good hitter whose legs and bat produced plenty of runs.

Al Smith was originally signed by the Cleveland Indians in 1948 and made his major league debut in 1953. He batted .306 in 1955 and led the American League in runs scored with 123.

Smith was signed by the Cleveland Indians in 1948 and made his debut in Cleveland in 1953, hitting .240 in 47 games. He opened the 1954 season as the Indians’ starting left-fielder, batting .281 for the American League champions. He scored 101 runs and led the team in doubles with 29.

In 1955, Smith led the American League by scoring 123 runs. He batted .306 with 22 home runs and 77 RBIs, and was named to the American League All-Star team. He finished third in the Most Valuable Player balloting for that season.

Smith played two more seasons with the Indians and then was traded (with future Hall of Famer Early Wynn) to the Chicago White Sox for Minnie Minoso and Fred Hatfield. He struggled in his first two seasons in Chicago, batting .252 in 1958 and .237 in 1959. He bounced back in 1960, hitting .315 with 31 doubles, 12 home runs and 72 RBIs. In 1961, he posted the best power numbers of his career, hitting 28 home runs with 93 RBIs.

Al Smith’s best season with the Chicago White Sox came in 1961. He batted .278 with 28 home runs and 93 RBIs.

Smith’s last season in Chicago was 1962, when he batted .292 with 16 home runs and 82 RBIs. In the off-season, he was traded with another future Hall of Famer, shortstop Luis Aparicio, to the Baltimore Orioles for Ron Hansen, Dave Nicholson, Pete Ward and Hoyt Wilhelm. He batted .272 for the Orioles in 1963, but with only 10 home runs and 39 RBIs. He was involved in one more trade, returning to Cleveland in exchange for outfielder Willie Kirkland. He split the 1964 season between the Indians and the Boston Red Sox, batting a combined .176. He retired in 1964 at age 36.

Smith finished with a career batting average of .272 on 1,458 hits. He scored 843 runs with 258 doubles, 164 home runs and 676 RBIs. He was a member of the American League All-Star team twice.

Storm on the Loose

 

Homer Happy: Norm Cash

Though he will always be remembered as the batting champion with the highest single-season batting average of the 1960s, Norm Cash was anything but a contact hitter. His forte was run-producing power, and he was one of the most consistent – yet underrated – power hitters of the decade.

Norm Cash spent 15 seasons as the Detroit Tigers’ everyday first baseman. His 373 home runs in a Tigers uniform are second only to <a rel=

“Stormin’ Norman” was signed by the Chicago White Sox as an amateur free agent in 1955. After two brief trips to Chicago in 1958 and 1959, Cash was traded by the White Sox with Bubba Phillips and John Romano to the Cleveland Indians for Dick Brown, Don Ferrarese, Minnie Minoso and Jake Striker. Cash never played for the Tribe. Before the first pitch of the 1960 season, he was traded to the Detroit Tigers for third baseman Steve Demeter.

Demeter turned out to be a career .087 hitter. Cash was a fixture at first base for the Tigers for the next 15 years.

His first full season in the majors, Cash hit .286 with 18 home runs and 63 RBIs. His second season, 1961, was a monster year for Cash: the American League leader in hits (193) and batting (a decade-best .361) with 41 home runs, 132 RBIs and a .662 slugging average. He would never match any of those numbers again in his career.

The next season his batting average would drop 118 points though he would still hit 39 home runs with 89 RBIs. But the rest of his career was built on day-in, day-out consistency rather than bursts of the spectacular. Over the next decade, Cash would average 27 home runs and 78 RBIs per season, and playing a solid first base for the Tigers for 143 games a year. In the 1968 World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, Cash hit .385 with one home run and five RBIs. He was a four-time All-Star.

In 1961, Norm Cash led the American League with 193 hits and a .361 batting average. He hit 41 home runs and drove in 132 runs.

In 1961, Norm Cash led the American League with 193 hits and a .361 batting average. He hit 41 home runs and drove in 132 runs.

Cash retired after being released by the Tigers in 1974. He hit 278 home runs during the 1960s, seventh most among major league sluggers, and finished with 377 career home runs, all but four with Detroit.

 

 

 

 

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Cuban Comet

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Minnie Minoso

Minnie Minoso was one of the most durable players in major league history, appearing for teams in five different decades (1940s-1980s). He lasted so long because he was an outstanding hitter and left fielder, batting .298 over a 17-year career and winning three Gold Gloves.

From 1952-1957, Minnie Minoso batted .305 for the Chicago White Sox. He averaged 15 home runs and 90 RBIs per season over that period.

From 1952-1957, Minnie Minoso batted .305 for the Chicago White Sox. He averaged 15 home runs and 90 RBIs per season over that period.

Minoso was already a proven hitter in his native Cuba and in the Negro League when he was signed by the Cleveland Indians in 1948. He made his debut with the Tribe in 1949, appearing in nine games. After a season in AAA ball, he started the 1951 season with Cleveland and then was traded to the Chicago White Sox, the first player of color to join the White Sox. He hit .326 in his rookie season with 10 home runs and 76 RBIs. He led the American League in triples (14) and stolen bases (31).

Minoso’s first tour with the White Sox lasted seven seasons. He hit .300 or better in five of those seasons, and led the league in stolen bases in 1952 and 1953. He also led the league in triples in 1954 (a career-high 18) and 1956. In 1954, besides leading the league in triples, Minoso batted .320 with 19 home runs and 116 RBIs.

In 1957, Minoso batted .310 with 12 home runs and 103 RBIs, and led the league with 36 doubles. Following that season, he was traded by the White Sox to the Cleveland Indians for Al Smith and Early Wynn. He hit .302 for Cleveland in 1958 with 24 home runs and 80 RBIs, and followed up in 1959 by hitting .302 again with 21 home runs and 92 RBIs.

Then it was back to the White Sox, traded with Dick Brown, Don Ferrarese and Jake Striker for Norm Cash, Bubba Phillips and John Romano. He batted .311 in 1960 with 20 home runs and 105 RBIs, and also led the American League with 184 hits. He won his third Gold Glove that season, and finished fourth in the balloting for AL Most Valuable Player (won by Roger Maris).

Minnie Minoso led the American League three times each in triples and stolen bases. He led the league 10 times in being hit by a pitch.

Minnie Minoso led the American League three times each in triples and stolen bases. He led the league 10 times in being hit by a pitch.

In 1961, Minoso hit .280 for the White Sox and was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals for first baseman Joe Cunningham. Now 36, Minoso played in only 39 games for the Cardinals, batting .196. He was signed by the Washington Senators, batting .229 in 1963. He appeared in 30 games for the White Sox in 1964, and after his release played several years in Mexico.

Minoso made two more brief appearances with the White Sox, in 1976 and 1980, qualifying him for five decades of major league appearances. He played minor league ball in the 1990s and 2003, making him the only player to appear professionally in seven different decades.

In his prime, Minoso was one of the best and most consistent hitters in the American League. From 1951 through 1960, Minoso hit for a combined .307 and averaged 16 home runs and 90 RBIs per season. He finished his career with 1,963 hits, and was an All-Star seven times.

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.

Baseball’s Meanest Fastball

Glancing Back, and Remembering Early Wynn

One of the most durable pitchers in baseball history, Early Wynn cultivated an image as a ruthless intimidator whose blazing fastball was available at any opportunity to drive a batter away from the plate … or make him pay for success in his previous at-bat. On the mound Wynn was relentless and talented, just the combination for producing a 300-win, Hall of Fame career.

Early Wynn won the 1959 Cy Young Award with a 22-10 record. He was a 20-game winner 4 times with the Cleveland Indians.

Early Wynn won the 1959 Cy Young Award with a 22-10 record for the Chicago White Sox. He had been a 20-game winner 4 times with the Cleveland Indians.

Wynn signed with the Washington Senators in 1937 and made his debut as a 19-year-old at the end of the 1939 season. He moved into the Senators’ starting rotation in 1942, going 10-16, and became the team’s ace in 1943 with an 18-12 record and a 2.91 ERA. He also led the American League that season with 33 starts.

Wynn won 17 games for the Senators in 1947 and after an 8-19 season in 1948, he was traded to the Cleveland Indians in a deal that would turn his career around. After going 72-87 in eight seasons with the Senators, Wynn was 163-100 over the next nine years with the Indians. He had four 20-win seasons with the Tribe, pitching an average of 229 innings per season. He twice led the American League in starts and innings pitched, and posted the league’s lowest ERA (3.20) in 1950. For the 1950s, Wynn had more strikeouts (1,544) than any other major league pitcher during that decade.

In 1957, Wynn was traded with Al Smith to the Chicago White Sox for Fred Hatfield and Minnie Minoso. He won 14 games for Chicago in 1958, and in 1959 won the Cy Young award with a 22-10 record and a 3.17 ERA. He led the league again in starts (37) and innings pitched (255.2).

Wynn won 13 games for the White Sox in 1960 (and led the league with four shutouts), but he was now 40 and his fastball was losing its gas. He won a combined 15 games over the next two seasons, and was released by Chicago in 1962 with 299 career victories. He signed with Cleveland and finally notched victory 300 in 1963 before retiring.

Wynn was a good hitter, a switch-hitter with a career batting average of .214, 17 home runs and 173 RBIs. He is one of five major league pitchers to have hit a grand slam as a pinch hitter.

Wynn was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972.

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