Glancing Back, and Remembering Max Alvis
When Max Alvis broke in with the Cleveland Indians in 1963, he seemed destined for stardom. A good-hitting, good-fielding third baseman with power, Alvis was, throughout his brief career, a true professional who could not completely overcome the virus that shortened his stay in the majors.
The Jasper, Texas native was signed by the Indians in 1958. He opened the Tribe’s 1963 season as the team’s starting third baseman, and put up solid offensive numbers: a .274 batting average, 32 doubles, 22 home runs and 67 RBIs. He led the Indians in home runs in 1963, and led all American League third basemen in putouts.
Max Alvis had a solid rookie season for the Cleveland Indians in 1963. He batted .274 with 22 home runs and 67 RBIs.
Alvis was on his way to an even-better season in 1964. By the end of June, he was batting .251 with 12 home runs and 29 RBIs. Traveling with the team to Boston, he was struck with an intense headache that only got worse with time. He was hospitalized and diagnosed with spiral meningitis. He was told that the illness had been caught in time, and upon his return in August that seemed to be the case. Alvis finished the year batting .252 with 18 home runs and 53 RBIs — in a season shortened for him by nearly six weeks.
Alvis had made a remarkable recovery, though he was never quite the same player afterward.
In 1965 Alvis hit 21 home runs and drove in 61 runs, both fourth best on the team. He was named to the American League All-Star team that season, as he would be again in 1967 when he hit 21 home runs with 70 RBIs. Then over the following two seasons, his numbers declined steadily. By 1969, he was relegated to a part-time role, batting .225 with one home run and 15 RBIs.
After eight seasons with the Indians, Alvis was traded with Russ Snyder to the Milwaukee Brewers for Frank Coggins, Roy Foster and cash. He spent one season with the Brewers, batting .183 in 62 games, before retiring at age 32.
In nine major league seasons, Alvis batted .247 with 111 home runs and 373 RBIs. He was an All-Star twice. He ranks 59th among home run hitters in the 1960s.
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