Thursday, May 30, 2019

#64 Joe Lonnett

Western Pennsylvania native Joe Lonnett spent 24 years in baseball as a player and coach, signing with the Philadelphia Phillies as a free agent in 1948. He missed two seasons while serving in the U.S. Navy in World War II and the Korean War. Lonnett spent four seasons as a catcher with the Phillies, from 1956-59, batting .166 with six home runs and 27 RBI. His roommate with the Phils was Robin Roberts.

He later coached for the Pirates under friend and fellow Pittsburgh area native Chuck Tanner. He was on the staff of the '79 championship team.  He succumbed to Alzheimer's disease in 2011 at the age of 84.

Friday, May 24, 2019

#63 Joe Nuxhall

Nuxhall debuted in MLB before his 16th birthday in 1944 due to the thinning of talent due to WWII. He then did the usual minor league work and returned to the Reds in 1952. Baseball Reference shows he was out of baseball in 1946 with 'voluntarily retired' given as the reason for no stats. I'd like to think he spent the year getting ready for his high school prom.

He went on to win 135 games over 16 seasons, all but five of those wins with the Reds. He went on to become a long-time, much-loved broadcaster for the Reds before retiring in 2004, a full six decades after his debut. Even then he wasn't completely retired as he sometimes pitched batting practice at Reds home games.

Joe Nuxhall died in  2007 at the age of 79.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

#62 Joe DeMaestri

Since I only caught the tail end of Joe DeMaestri's career I think of him as a Yankee but he spent far more time with the Athletics through the 1950s.

He was originally a Red Sox signee out of the Bay Area but debuted with the White Sox in 1951 after being claimed in the Rule 5 draft. He played a year in Chicago, was dealt to the Browns and spend a year with them. He was a 'good field-no hit' infielder.

After two trades in the winter of 1952-53 he found himself in Philadelphia and he established himself as the Athletics' starting shortstop and held that spot for seven seasons. He was an All Starin 1957. After being dealt to the Yankees (in the same trade that brought over Roger Maris) he was on the pennant-winning 1960 club that lost to the Pirates. He had a hit in two trips in that Series. He was also on the Series-winning 1961 Yankee team but didn't play in the Series at all. He retired after the 1961 season and, like his pal Maris, went into the beer distribution business.

His biggest day in the majors came in 1955 with the A's when on July 8, at Briggs Stadium in Detroit, he had six singles in six at-bats.