What’s the Catch?

 

The Glove Club: Del Crandall

If you were going to “build” the catcher you needed in the 1950s, you couldn’t have worked from a better prototype than Del Crandall.

His defense was superb. He was mostly head-and-shoulders above his National League counterparts during the 1950s and into the 1960s. Continue reading

Why No Hall of Fame?

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Sherm Lollar

Sherm Lollar was one of the American League’s best all-around catchers during the 1950s. In a career that extended from the 1940s into the 1960s, Lollar’s hitting, defensive prowess and his ability to manage pitchers was rivaled only by New York Yankees great Yogi Berra, and in more than one statistical category he outpaced the Yankees’ Hall of Famer.

Sherm Lollar was a rock-solid Chicago White Sox catcher for more than a decade.

Sherm Lollar was a rock-solid Chicago White Sox catcher for more than a decade.

Lollar played for four different teams during his 18-year career – the last 12 with the Chicago White Sox. He was originally signed by the Cleveland Indians in 1943, appearing in 28 games with the Tribe in 1946. He was traded to the Yankees in December of 1946 in the deal that brought pitcher Gene Bearden to Cleveland. In two seasons with the Yankees, he appeared in only 33 games and was traded in 1949 to the St. Louis Browns.

With the Browns, he finally got some playing time. He batted a combined .266 in three seasons, and was traded again – for the final time in his career – following the 1951 season. He was the everyday catcher for the White Sox for more than a decade.

He became a solid middle-lineup hitter with excellent defensive skills. And he improved steadily in both areas throughout his career.

Lollar batted .287 for the White Sox in 1953 and hit .293 in 1956. From 1952 through 1955, he averaged 11 home runs and 50 runs batted in – acceptable enough run production for a catcher who brought so much defensive and game-management ability to the field. But his offensive output improved through the rest of the 1950s, averaging 16 home runs and 78 RBIs from 1956 through 1959. When the White Sox won the American League pennant in 1959, Lollar led the team with 22 home runs and 84 RBIs.

When the Gold Glove award was inaugurated in 1957, the first Gold Glove for catcher went to Lollar … as did the second and third.

Sherm Lollar led the 1959 American League champs in home runs and RBIs … while winning his third consecutive Gold Glove.

In 1960 he batted .252 with seven home runs and 46 RBIs, and followed up in 1961 by batting .282 with seven homers and 41 RBIs. A fractured thumb limited him to 84 games in 1962, and he retired after the 1963 season, when he was used mostly as a pinch hitter.

During his 18-year major league career, Lollar batted .264 with 1,415 hits, 155 home runs and 808 runs batted in. He was named to the American League All-Star team seven times, and at the time of his retirement, Lollar ranked ninth in career home runs among catchers.

Outstanding for more than a decade? Definitely. Hall of Fame? Maybe. (Make that: Should be.)