Thursday, April 11, 2019

#60 Del Ennis

Del Ennis doesn't look like a big hitting outfielder on this card but for a stretch form 1946 to 1957 he was just that. He played 11 seasons for the Phils and a few for the Cardinals as a double-digit home run threat with RBI and batting average numbers that should have gotten him more notoriety. But in the NL there was plenty of OF talent and Ennis never generated much buzz across the country.

He had an outstanding rookie year in 1946 and made the NL All-Star team and garnered some MVP votes. He was a year too early although as the RoY award wasn't instituted until '47 (and w/Jackie Robinson in the mix in '47 Ennis would have lost out anyway). 

Ennis rarely missed a game during his career and finished with 288 homers and a .284 average. He led the NL with 126 RBIs in the Phils 'Whiz Kid' 1950 season.

His numbers fell off sharply in 1958 and he finished his career by splitting the '59 season between the White Sox and Reds. He notably served in the Pacific Theater with the Navy during WWII. After baseball he owned a bowling alley, coached a bit at the college level and dabbled in greyhound racing.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

#59 Dave Sisler

Dave Sisler was a St. Louis native who signed on with the Red Sox out of Princeton in 1953. He had a natural baseball background as his father, Hall of Famer George Sisler, and one of his brothers, Dick Sisler, also played baseball in the big leagues. Another brother, George Sisler, Jr., was a general manager for several minor league baseball teams, and later became president of the International League from 1966 to 1976.

He had a nice first year in the minors and then served two years in the military before returning to baseball. He began as a starter and pitched for three seasons in Boston and part of a fourth before being dealt to the Tigers early in the '59 season.

He spent the rest of his career as a middle relief innings eater and sometimes closer as he bounced from the Tigers to the Senators and finally the Reds in 1962. He retired after spending 1963 with the Reds' San Diego club in the PCL and went to work in investment banking.

I got a kick out of the mention, in his SABR bio, of Sisler playing corkball as a kid. My best friend is from St. Louis, the birthplace of the sport, and he introduced all of us in the dorm building we occupied to corkball back in 1970. We played for hours out in the yard between the buildings of the dorm complex. Probably should have spent more of that time on productive things.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

#58 Art Schult

Art Schult is another one of those interesting guys that not many remember. He was a college educated, NYC area athlete who played semi-pro ball in high school as a teen and in college summer leagues while enrolled at Georgetown University.

Drafted by the Yankees, he put together some solid minor league numbers but had his career interrupted by Uncle Sam and he served in a tank outfit in the Korean War.

His army travails (he was 6' 4" and couldn't fit through this tank's escape hatch), issues with the Yankee brass and nomadic career make for an interesting read. This website has the details and an interview with Schult. Highly recommended.

In the end, he played in about one season's worth of games in the majors spread out over 5 years with four clubs. His son and grandson played minor league and college ball with some success. Shult passed away in 2014 at the age of 86.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

#57 Tim Thompson

Tim Thompson was a US Navy vet who signed with the Dodgers in 1947 and hit well in the minors. His problem was that, in 1949 and 1950 as he was probably ready to make the big league club (he batted .293 in '49), he was roadblocked by some guy named Roy Campanella.

Thompson got a taste of the big leagues in 1954 and was finally, after half a decade of waiting patiently at the AAA level, dealt to the A's on the eve of the 1956 season. He spent two years as a platoon catcher in Kansas City, a handful of games with the '58 Tigers, and a couple more minor league seasons before retiring from the ballfield. Over his 14-year minor league career, he had a .293 batting average.

He went on to a long career as a minor league coach, scout, and head of scouting for the Cardinals, Dodgers, and Orioles. He is credited as being the first NL backstop to wear glasses while playing. I like how much the cartoon depiction resembles him.

Friday, April 5, 2019

#56 Bill Fischer

Bill Fischer was a baseball 'lifer' who pitched professionally for two decades and spent almost another five(!) decades as a scout, instructor, coach, minor league manager and about everything else you can be in baseball. He was still active as the Royals' senior pitching advisor in 2018 before passing away in October.

He spent nine seasons pitching for the Senators/Twins, White Sox, Tigers, and Athletics winning 45 games and losing 58. Of his 281 appearances, 78 were starts.

He was a drill sergeant in the Marines for two years in the early 50s and was quoted as saying “The only two-year contract I ever had in my life was when I was drafted into the Marines.”

His SABR bio is a roadmap through modern baseball.

Monday, April 1, 2019

#55 Chico Carrasquel

Alfonso 'Chico' Carrasquel, a native of Venezuela, was a standout defensive player at short for the WhieSox, Indians, A's and Orioles through the fifties. He started as a pro in his native country at 17 and was signed originally by the Dodgers in 1949. He was traded to the White Sox (possibly because of his difficulty with the English language) and became a fixture on the South Side for six seasons. 

While always known for his glove, Carrasquel was a pretty decent hitter. He had a few seasons with double-digit homers and had a career .258 average which is far above the Mendoza Line. He was dealt to the Indians after the '55 season to make way for another Venezuelan shortstop, Luis Aparicio.  

After two and a half years in Cleveland, he moved on to play w half year in Kanas City and then one final year at short for the Orioles. He attempted to rejoin the White Sox in 1960 but didn't make the team out of Spring Training. After a season in the minors, he retired. 

He returned home to play in the Winter Leagues and work with underprivileged kids in and around Caracas. There was a foundation started in his name to that end as well.

I like how it appears that he is wearing a much too large uni in this photo. The jersey is puckered, the pants cinched and the uni lettering just above his waist.