Coal Miner’s Son (with a Rifle Arm)

 

The Glove Club: Larry Brown

Larry Brown was an excellent infielder who rarely hit and even more rarely struck out. He made contact often enough that you could count on his bat to advance the runner, but probably not drive that runner in.

What kept Brown in the major leagues for a dozen years was his skill in the field. Continue reading

Hittin’ Like Hinton

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Chuck Hinton

For more than a decade, Chuck Hinton was a dependable hitter and outfielder for three different American League teams. He remains the last Washington Senators player to hit .300 in a season.

Chuck Hinton was fourth in the American League in 1962 with a .310 average.

Chuck Hinton was fourth in the American League in 1962 with a .310 average.

Hinton was signed by the Baltimore Orioles in 1956. He was selected by the Washington Senators in the 1960 expansion draft, and hit .260 as a rookie for the Senators in 1961.

He had one of the most productive bats in the American League in 1962. Hinton hit .310 to finish fourth in batting, with 17 home runs and 75 RBIs, both career bests. He also stole 28 bases, second in the league to Luis Aparicio. His offensive numbers slipped over the next two season, though Hinton remained Washington’s best overall offensive threat. He batted .269 with 15 home runs and 55 RBIs in 1963. He was an All-Star in 1964, batting .274 with 11 home runs and 53 RBIs.

After the 1964 season, Washington traded Hinton to the Cleveland Indians for first baseman Bob Chance and infielder Woodie Held. Hinton batted .255 for the Tribe in 1965, with 18 home runs and 55 RBIs. He would never match those hitting statistics again in a single season.

A career .264 hitter, Chuck Hinton batted .318 with the Cleveland Indians in 1970.

A career .264 hitter, Chuck Hinton batted .318 with the Cleveland Indians in 1970.

After two more years with Cleveland, Hinton was traded to the California Angels for outfielder Jose Cardenal. After one season with the Angels (when he batted .195 in a part-time role), Hinton returned to Cleveland in exchange for outfielder Lou Johnson. He played three more seasons for Cleveland before retiring after the 1971 season. He hit a career-best .318 for the Indians in 1970.

Hinton retired after 11 major league seasons with a .264 career batting average.

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Making a Short Stop in Slugville

 

Glancing Back, and Remembering Woodie Held

Coming out of an era when “good field, no hit” was the acceptable standard for most major league shortstops, Woodie Held was the American League best power-hitting shortstop, surpassed among his major league contemporaries only by Ernie Banks. He was the first Cleveland Indians shortstop to hit 20 or more home runs in three consecutive seasons. He hit more than 10 home runs in seven consecutive seasons.

From 1959 through 1964, Woodie Held averaged 21 home runs and 66 RBIs as the Cleveland Indians’ shortstop.

From 1959 through 1964, Woodie Held averaged 21 home runs and 66 RBIs as the Cleveland Indians’ shortstop.

Held was originally signed by the New York Yankees in 1951 and spent more than six years in the Yankees’ farm system, making only token appearances in New York. In June of 1957, he was traded (with Billy Martin and Ralph Terry) to the Kansas City Athletics. Held moved into the starting center fielder role, batting .239 with 20 home runs and 50 RBIs.

He stayed in Kansas City for one season, traded (with Vic Power) to the Cleveland Indians in the deal that brought Roger Maris to the A’s. Held moved to shortstop for the Tribe and struggled at the plate, hitting a combined .204 with seven home runs and 33 RBIs in 1958. His hitting improved dramatically in 1959, batting .251 with 29 home runs and 71 RBIs.

Held blasted 21 home runs in 1960 and 23 home runs with 78 RBIs in 1961. From 1959 through 1964, he averaged 21 home runs and 66 RBIs as Cleveland’s shortstop.

Following the 1964 season, the Tribe traded Held and Bob Chance to the Washington Senators for outfielder Chuck Hinton. He batted .247 with 16 home runs and 54 RBIs in his only season in Washington, and then was traded again, this time to the Baltimore Orioles for John Orsino. He was used sparingly in Baltimore (82 games in two seasons) and was dealt to the California Angels in a trade that included pitcher Marcelino Lopez. Now in his late 30s, Held was strictly a utility infielder for the Angels and, finally, the Chicago White Sox, his team in 1968 and 1969. He retired after being released by the White Sox following the 1969 season.

In 14 major league seasons, Held posted a career batting average of .240 with 179 home runs and 559 RBIs.

Ah the Power of Gold (as in Glove)

 

The Glove Club: Vic Power

As talented as he was as a hitter, Vic Power’s legacy came from his glove and his then-unique fielding style that has redefined how first base is played today.

Vic Power revolutionized first base defense on his way to winning 7 consecutive Gold Gloves.

Vic Power revolutionized first base defense on his way to winning 7 consecutive Gold Gloves.

Power was born Victor Pellot in Puerto Rico and was signed by the New York Yankees in 1951. Despite his success in the Yankees’ minor league system (hitting .331 in Triple-A in 1952 and .349 in 1953 – with no “call up” either season), the Yankees never played Power but sent him to the Philadelphia Athletics in December 1953 as part of an 11-player deal. He batted .255 as an outfielder in his 1954 rookie season. In 1955, the A’s moved to Kansas City, and Power moved from the outfield to first base. He batted .319 (second in the American League to Al Kaline) 2ith 19 home runs and 76 RBIs. He also had 34 doubles and 10 triples in 1955.

Power followed up in 1956 with a .309 batting average. After hitting .259 in 1957, Power batted .312 in 1958 in a season split between Kansas City and the Cleveland Indians. Power was traded to the Indians with shortstop Woodie Held in the deal that brought Roger Maris to the A’s (en route to the New York Yankees). Power led the American League with 10 triples that season, and drove in 80 runs.

The 1958 season was also the first season that the Gold Glove awarded, and Power won the first one for his play at first base. He would win it that year and for each of the next six seasons. He established the style of catching the ball one-handed, increasing his reach on throws to first base. It’s the standard for first base play today, but was considered flamboyant when Power introduced this style, though it seemed natural to him.

In an era when teams typically used first base as a defensive default for less than athletic sluggers, Power showed what athleticism at first base could do for an infield’s defense. He shares the record for two unassisted double plays in the same game (as well as being one of the few major league players to steal home twice in a single game). He also led the league in assists at first base a record six consecutive years.

Power spent four seasons in Cleveland, batting a combined .288 and setting his career high with 84 RBIs in 1960. In 1962, Power was traded with Dick Stigman to the Minnesota Twins for Pedro Ramos. He batted .290 for the Twins in 1962 with 16 home runs and 63 RBIs, and was selected as the team’s Most Valuable Player. In 1964, he was involved in a major trade that sent him to the California Angels (with Lenny Green). Power hit .249 as a part-time player for the Angels, and was dealt to the Philadelphia Phillies (for pitcher Marcelino Lopez) at the end of the 1964 season. The Angels re-acquired Power and he hit .259 in 1965, his last year in the majors.

Power played for 12 seasons in the major leagues, batting .284 for his career with 1,716 hits. He was selected for the American League All-Star team four times.

 

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