Bobby Shantz: 1952 AL MVP and…1960 World Series Goat?

Here’s the latest guest post from Joe Guzzardi, a regular Wednesday and Saturday contributor here.


In 1952, when Philadelphia A’s pitcher Bobby Shantz won the American League Most Valuable Player award, I was a nine-year-old kid growing up in Dodgerless Los Angeles and rooting for the Hollywood Stars.

I remember wondering how it was possible that Shantz, not much bigger than me at 5’6” and 135 pounds, could be mowing down Ted Williams and Yogi Berra in the big leagues when I was still throwing pop flies to myself in my backyard.

No one could deny that in 1952 Shantz hit his peak. Posting a 24-7 win-loss record for a fifth-place team, Shantz garnered the MVP award in a landslide by easily outdistancing New York Yankee stars Allie Reynolds, Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra.

Shantz led the American League in wins, winning percentage (.774), fewest walks per game (2.03), finished second with 27 complete games, third with a 2.48 ERA and 152 strikeouts, tied for third with five shutouts, fourth with 255 innings pitched and fifth in fewest hits per game (7.39).

In his first major league appearance on May 1, 1949, Shantz pitched two-thirds of an inning of scoreless relief against the Washington Senators.

As inconspicuous as his debut was, Shantz showed what he was all about five days later. On May 6 Shantz notched his first big league win when at Briggs Stadium, Detroit, he entered the game in the fourth inning in relief of Carl Scheib. For the next ten innings, Shantz held the Tigers to two hits and one earned run while striking out seven.

A’s manager Connie Mack, a former catcher, kept Shantz from using his most effective pitch (the knucleball) and was predisposed to more physically intimidating hurlers like Joe Coleman, Lou Brissie and Dick Fowler. But when Mack retired after the 1950 season, new pilot Jimmy Dykes gave Shantz more rest and let him use off speed pitches. The result: in 1951, an 18-10 record for a 70-84 Athletics team.

In 1957 the Athletics, now located in Kansas City, traded Shantz along with Art Ditmar, Jack McMahan, Wayne Belardi and two players to be named later to the Yankees in exchange for Irv Noren, Milt Graff, Mickey McDermott, Tom Morgan, Rip Coleman, Billy Hunter and a player to be named later.

Used mostly as a spot starter with Whitey Ford, Don Larsen, Tom Sturdivant and Bob Turley, Shantz went 11-5 and led the major leagues in ERA with a 2.45 mark.

Lost in the annals of time is Shantz’s disappointing role for the Yankees in the famous 1960 World Series against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Shantz pitched two-thirds of an inning (scoreless) in both the second and fourth games. In the second, he earned a save for Turley.

In the seventh game, the wheels came off. Shantz entered the game in the third inning and held the Pirates scoreless for four innings. But in the bottom of the eighth, Shantz gave up singles to Gino Cimoli, Bill Virdon and Dick Groat before coming out in favor of Jim Coates.

All three eventually scored and the earned runs were charged to Shantz. The Pirates tallied twice more before eventually winning the game, 10-9, and the series, 4-3.

Manager Casey Stengel decision to leave Shantz in may have cost him his job. During the regular season, Shantz never pitched more than four innings. Why Stengel left Shantz in for the fifth is a baseball mystery.

The following year Shantz landed with the Pirates and subsequently pitched for the Houston Colt .45s, St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago Cubs and Philadelphia Phillies.

Over his career Shantz, a three time All Star, sparkled in the 1952 contest when in the fifth inning he struck out Whitey Lockman, Jackie Robinson and Stan Musial. Had the game not been called because of rain, Shantz might have broken Carl Hubbell’s record of five in a row.

He also won eight Gold Gloves including the first four years (1957-1960) it was awarded.

In a baseball oddity, Shantz and his brother catcher Billy were teammates on the Philadelphia A’s (1954), Kansas City (1955) and the Yankees (1960).  However, they were only battery mates in Kansas City.

In 2010, the Philadelphia Sports Hall of Fame elected Shantz. The Pottstown native now lives in Ambler, PA.


Joe Guzzardi belongs to the Society for American Baseball Research as well as the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America. Email him at

Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? Dave Parker

Claim to fame: Parker broke in with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1973 and quickly emerged as one of the best young players in the majors. In his first seven seasons, Parker won two batting titles, three Gold Gloves, and an MVP. For a time, Parker looked like a surefire first ballot Hall of Fame inductee, and he was included in a book on the 100 best players in baseball history in 1981. Then problems with substance abuse surfaced.

Current Hall of Fame eligibility: Parker has made 14 appearances on the Cooperstown ballot for the Baseball Writers Association of America, consistently receiving about 10-20 percent of the vote each year. He has one more shot with the writers coming up in a few months and looks like a future Veterans Committee candidate.

Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? In May 2009, I included Parker on a list of the 10 best players not in the Hall of Fame. Sixteen months on, there are probably some players I would remove from that list. Parker is not one of them.

At the time I made my list, I wrote about Parker:

This guy’s a Veteran’s Committee pick waiting to happen. If Jim Rice and Orlando Cepeda can get into the Hall, Parker should too. He had better career numbers than those players for hits, doubles, runs batted in, runs scored, and stolen bases. However, just like Cepeda delayed his Cooperstown bid by going to prison for drug trafficking, Parker likely hurt his chances with well-publicized cocaine abuse.

Were it not for the onerous drug issues, which included being a central witness in a series of drug trials in Pittsburgh in the mid-1980s, Parker might have retired as one of the best players since Willie Mays or Hank Aaron. Early in his career, Parker had an all-around game comparable to either man, one of the few ballplayers in his generation who could hit for average and power, field and throw well, and steal bases.

Even with the marked decline in the second half of his career, when he went from regular All Star to serviceable role player, Parker still finished with 2,712 hits, 339 home runs and a .290 batting average. has four ranking benchmarks for Cooperstown. Parker meets two and falls just short on the other two.

Parker is perhaps a fringe candidate on statistical merit, and that’s where being a minority with a less-than-wholesome persona has likely hurt him with Hall of Fame voters. This kind of thing certainly didn’t help Dick Allen, Albert Belle, Dwight Gooden, or Maury Wills. For some reason, when white players like Dizzy Dean or Rube Waddell debauch, it adds to their lore, though others rarely get this consideration. If a black player isn’t lovable like Kirby Puckett, he’d better have ironclad lifetime stats like Eddie Murray.

Granted, there are plenty of white players with glowing reputations who haven’t been enshrined, such as Gil Hodges, Harvey Kuenn, and Dale Murphy.

Still, I have to wonder.

Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? is a Tuesday feature here.

A summer of softball

I quit playing Little League when I was 11. I never excelled at baseball as a child, and fifteen years after my final season, some of the things I remember most are that I struck out fairly often, I was a decent outfielder, and maybe once a season, I could hit a fluke triple. I do not trace my favorite childhood experiences to Little League. I treasure memories of going to Candlestick Park, playing epic Wiffle Ball games with my dad in our driveway, and accumulating tons of baseball cards before I understood their value. It’s harder to get nostalgic about mediocrity.

A lot of ballplayers aren’t very good starting out, like Dale Murphy who once said in a book for children, “I’m glad my appetite for trying wasn’t quenched after my first season in Little League when I struck out most of the time. I loved the game and I had fun playing it. I didn’t really realize that I had had a bad season.”

In sixth grade, I had a bad season. My teacher assigned an average of two hours of homework a night to prepare my class for middle school, and while I later aced seventh grade, my passion for playing baseball died. Twice a week in the spring of sixth grade, I sat three out of every six innings on the bench for my team, and it began to seem like a waste of time I needed for homework. I never played another season.

So it was with some excitement and trepidation that I greeted an invitation to join an adult softball team this year. I wondered if I’d be a different player with the strength of a grown man, or if this would merely be a continuance of my crappy childhood career. It turned out to be a little of both.

I still sat the bench about half the time, partly because we were a co-ed team who needed to keep a certain amount of female players on-field, and we had more male players than we knew what to do with. I also still wasn’t a very good hitter, at least early in the season when I struck out swinging a few times, which is embarrassing in a slow-pitch league. For a time this year, it was like I was 11 all over again, and I sometimes resented giving half my Sundays to games or practices. Even as I’m in my 20s and relatively unencumbered, my life is busy.

I’m glad I didn’t quit the softball team. I improved as the season progressed, up to my final at-bat. We were in our tournament elimination game on Sunday, and I came to the plate in the last inning with two outs, our team down 12-9, and the bases loaded. I smacked a two-run single and represented the winning run, though I got stranded at second base, and we lost.

Regardless, it’s the kind of experience that will keep a player coming out. I look forward to next year.

I occasionally write personal entries. Here are a few similar posts:

Baseball cards

Thoughts on George Brett and the glove he inspired

My first baseball game

Double the fun: Dodgers (L.A. Version) Come Home to Gotham; Hammer Hapless Mets

Here’s the latest from Joe Guzzardi, who writes “Double the fun,” looking at one famous doubleheader every Saturday.


On Memorial Day, 1962 the transplanted Dodgers playing in Los Angeles returned to New York for the first time since the team left Brooklyn in 1957 to play a three game series against the woebegone New York Mets.

In an effort to fill up the disintegrating Polo Grounds with new fans, the Mets had loaded the roster with ex-Brooklyn heroes including Don Zimmer, Clem Labine, Charlie Neal, Joe Pignatano and Gil Hodges.

The effort to lure fans succeeded. The Mets drew nearly one million rabid rooters, many of whom soon crowed about the new franchise: “I’ve been a Mets fan all my life.”

For the May 30 double dip 55,704 Metropolitans’ rooters jammed the Polo Grounds to watch their beloved team take on their cross country rivals.

On paper, it didn’t figure to be much of a contest. The Mets, eventual losers of 120 games, are considered by most to be the worst team in modern baseball history. The Dodgers won 101 games and finished one game behind the National League pennant winning San Francisco Giants.

The match up pitted Sandy Koufax (14-7) and Johnny Podres (15-13) for the Dodgers, against Jay Hook (8-19) and Bob L. Miller (1-12).

Unsurprisingly, since we are talking about the Mets, there’s a story behind the two New York starting pitchers. The Mets were the only team in baseball to ever have two players with identical names, Bob Miller. Naturally that led to considerable confusion.

To complicate matters even further, the Millers roomed together. Their teammates decided simply to call them “Lefty” Bob Miller and “Righty” Bob Miller. Manager Casey Stengel, for reasons known only to him, called “Righty” Bob Miller “Nelson”

In any event, “Righty” Bob, who faced the Dodgers that afternoon, lost his first 12 starts until on the next to the last day of the season, he notched a win against the Chicago Cubs.

As for Hook, since he earned a mechanical engineering degree from Northwestern University but notched only had a 12-34 record during his three Mets’ seasons, Stengel joked: “Hook can explain a curve ball but he can’t throw one.”

In the first game, Koufax was fortunate that the Dodgers spotted him a 10-0 lead through the top of the fourth. The 1962 Koufax hadn’t yet hit his Hall of Fame stride. Although Koufax struck out 10, the Mets battered him for 13 hits and six earned runs before succumbing 13-6.

To the immense delight of the crowd, one of the runs came off the bat of Brooklyn favorite Hodges when he homered in the fourth.

The nightcap was closer. The Mets shelled Podres, knocking him out in the seventh inning after he gave up five earned runs. The Mets outhit the Dodgers 9-5 including two more home runs by Hodges. Nevertheless, the Mets lost, 6-5.

For the season, the Mets went 2-16 against the Dodgers and fared only slightly better against the San Francisco Giants, 4-14. The Mets did however manage to break even against the Chicago Cubs, 9-9. The Cubs lost 103 games to finish in ninth place, ahead of only the Mets.

Although other professional sports teams have had more barren seasons, the Mets remain the benchmark for failure.

In 1976, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers went 0-14; the Detroit Lions posted a 2008 0-16 mark.

Yet the Mets remain synonymous with futility probably because they had players like Miller, Hook and of course Marvelous Marv Throneberry who, by the way, tapped a weak grounder to shortstop in his pinch hit and lone plate appearance that afternoon.


Joe Guzzardi belongs to the Society for American Baseball Research, as well as the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America. Email him at

A starting lineup of baseball players not in the Hall of Fame

I read a post on that offered a lineup of ballplayers not in the Hall of Fame. It got me thinking, and I have compiled my own goon squad of non-inducted greats that I believe could run roughshod in a one-game playoff over the Seamheads 9.

To be clear, I’m not suggesting each player here is the best at his position who’s not in the Hall of Fame. This is strictly about creating the best possible team. I invite anyone to offer their own lineup.

Here’s my roster card:

1. SS – Maury Wills: He’s far from the best shortstop not in the Hall of Fame, but if we’re putting together a one-shot, winner-takes-all lineup, I could use Wills leading off. He’s a threat to steal every time on base and a Gold Glove fielder to boot.

2. 2B – Roberto Alomar: In his prime, Alomar regularly hit above .300, accumulated more than 200 hits, and was a stellar defensive second baseman. Had he not fallen off dramatically near the end of his career, he’d have been a first ballot Hall of Famer.

3. LF – Shoeless Joe Jackson: On sheer talent, Shoeless Joe may be the best baseball player not in the Hall of Fame. Because of his involvement in fixing the 1919 World Series, Jackson may never receive a plaque, though I’m happy to offer a lineup spot.

4. DH – Albert Belle: The only player boasting 50-home-run power on this team, Belle’s .933 career OPS is third-highest out of eligible players not in the Hall of Fame. The two players in front of Belle are Lefty O’Doul, who has less power and Mark McGwire, who recently admitted to using steroids.

5. RF – Dave Parker: A superb player whose Cooperstown candidacy suffered for well-documented drug problems, Parker is on my list of the 10 best players not in the Hall of Fame.

6. 1B – Don Mattingly: Were more power needed, I might go with Gil Hodges, and I was also tempted to tap my childhood hero, Will Clark, but I chose Donnie Baseball who offers the best combination of average, power, and defense.

7. C – Thurman Munson: I originally chose Joe Torre but saw he was the starting backstop for Seamheads, and I switched to Munson. The career of the iconic Yankees captain ended when he died in a plane crash at 32 in August 1979, though prior to that, he was one of the best catchers of the 1970s.

8. 3B – Pete Rose: The all-time hits leader could probably occupy most any spot in the batting order or field for this club and he’d be a valuable clubhouse presence as well. I should add that I believe Rose belongs in the Hall of Fame, Jackson too.

9. CF – Spottswood Poles: I’ve written before about Poles, described elsewhere as “the black Ty Cobb.” Most recently, I included Poles among a group of old-timers who deserve mass induction.

P – Jack Morris: He probably isn’t the best pitcher currently outside of the Hall of Fame (see: Bert Blyleven) but Morris owned Game 7 of the 1991 World Series. I give him the game ball hoping there’s another 10-inning, championship-winning masterpiece in him, if necessary.

RP – Sparky Lyle: I interviewed former ballplayer Ken Henderson in July, and he said Lyle and Steve Carlton were two of the toughest pitchers he faced. Lyle was a pioneering reliever, the second to win a Cy Young award. In 16 seasons from 1967-1982, he went 99-76 with a 2.88 ERA and 238 saves.

Manager – Billy Martin: What non-inducted manager could better handle this team’s star power than the Bronx Zoo skipper?

Related: The 10 Most Overrated Hall of Famers and The zero Hall of Fame votes dream line-up

Any player/Any era: Fritz Maisel

What he did: Here’s another interesting player I doubt many modern baseball fans have heard of. Maisel played in the big leagues from 1913 through 1918 and retired with largely unremarkable stats: a .242 lifetime batting average, 510 hits, and a career slugging percentage of .299. Supposedly, the New York Yankees turned down a chance to trade Maisel straight up for Joe Jackson. That had to sting.

Perhaps the one thing Maisel did remarkably well was steal bases, which may have helped earn him the nickname Flash. Maisel stole 194 bases in his career, averaged over 30 steals per season, and led the majors with 74 swiped bags in 1914. He was only caught stealing 17 times, which the blog Cybermetrics recently noted was far better than the league average that year. Maisel’s big season came one year before Ty Cobb stole 96 bases and set a big league record that stood for 47 years.

Thing is, in a different era, Maisel might have topped this.

Era he might have thrived in: With the Murderers Row Yankees of the late 1920s and early ’30s

Why: I’ve written before about players who excelled at stealing bases during times it wasn’t trendy to do so. In June, I devoted one of these columns to Washington Senators outfielder George Case, who liked to say he could have stolen 100 bases in a different era. In my research on Case, I noted that Ben Chapman stole 61 bases for the 1931 Yankees. I decided to see how Maisel would have fared on those clubs.

The stat converter on Baseball-Reference has Maisel stealing 97 bases on the 1930 Yankees, a team that hit .309, scored 1,062 runs and had Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig turning in career-defining seasons. It’s a little astonishing that New York finished a distant third in the American League that year. Maisel’s presence wouldn’t have made the difference in the standings, though it could have helped his legacy.

If Maisel had played for those Yankees, he may have set a record to last until Maury Wills stole 104 bases in 1962. The record would have almost outlived Maisel, who followed his playing career with work as a minor league manager and fire chief and died in 1967 at 77. Like Maisel, Wills was an infielder mostly known for stealing bases and playing generally good defense. Considering Wills received as much as 40 percent of the Hall of Fame vote, went the full 15 years on the writers ballot, and may still have a shot with the Veterans Committee, I suspect Maisel’s achievement would have gotten him at least some consideration, too.

Granted, many players probably could have compiled gaudy stolen base totals on the 1930 Yankees, if the stat converter is to be believed. Wills’ 1962 season converts to 126 stolen bases, Cobb would have 115 steals for his converted 1915 effort, and Rickey Henderson circa 1982 would have stolen 167 bases for the 1930 Yankees. Heck, I might have even set the stolen base record that year.

Any player/Any era is a Thursday feature that looks at how a player might have done in an era besides his own.

1959 “Go Go” Sox Score Eleven Runs In One Inning On One Measly Single! Believe It!

Here is the latest from Wednesday and Saturday contributor Joe Guzzardi.


You may not believe it (I know I didn’t) but on April 22, 1959, the Chicago White Sox on its way to a 20-6 triumph scored 11 runs on one hit against the Kansas City Athletics at the old Municipal Stadium.  A sparse crowd of 7,446 witnessed history.

During its American League pennant year, the Go Go Sox needed all the offensive help it could get.

But the gift from the Athletics was more than manager Al Lopez could have hoped for in his wildest dreams.

For the season, the White Sox had a .250 over all team average, scored only 669 runs, had 620 RBIs and 1,325 base hits. Those totals ranked Chicago sixth in offensive output in an eight team league. The total base count of 1,928 was seventh; home runs, dead last with 97. The White Sox were the only team in the major leagues to hit fewer than 100 homers.

To make up for its weak hitting, the Go Go Sox counted on speed and plate discipline as it led the league in stolen bases with 113 (56 for leader Luis Aparicio), triples with 46, batters hit by a pitch, 49 and tied with Detroit for most times reaching base via a walk, 580. The White Sox were tough to strike out, too, whiffing a league low of 634 times.

The Sox, however, relied on the proverbial strength up the middle.

Anchored by the double play combination of the incomparable Nellie Fox, the American League’s Most Valuable Player and Aparicio, the Sox were also solid in center field where Jim Landis’ clutch hitting, glove and throwing arm contributed to many key wins.

Behind the plate, Sherm Lollar equaled his more famous New York Yankee rival and former teammate, Yogi Berra. Lollar appeared in seven All Star Games and won three Gold Glove Awards.

Solid pitching rounded out the White Sox. Starters Early Wynn (22-10), the 1959 Cy Young Award winner, Bob Shaw (18-6) and relief specialists Turk Lown and Gerry Staley were solid all year.

The White Sox were unlikely pennant winners.

From 1955 to 1958, the Yankees won 4 straight American League crowns and 9 of the last ten years including 7 World Series titles.

Prognosticators liked the Cleveland Indians chances in 1959 too. Like the White Sox, the Indians had speed, good pitching but also had power, namely Rocky Colavito.

But the Yankees’ pitching faltered. Whitey Ford had an off year (for him), Bob Turley, the 1958 Cy Young Award winner, went 8-11 and Mickey Mantle, although he hit 31 home runs, drove in a mere 75. The Yankees finished in third place, 15 games behind the White Sox.

The Indians challenged but, losers of 15 of 22 head-to-head games against the Sox, came up in second place, five games shy.

When the White Sox sewed up its first pennant in forty years, fire Commissioner Robert J. Quinn ordered a celebratory five-minute sounding of the city’s air-raid sirens that set many Chicago residents rushing out into the streets to look for a possible Soviet Union bomb attack. But Quinn’s alarm was just one delirious fan’s way to celebrate. Unfortunately for Quinn and other White Sox devotees, the magic wore off in the World Series when the South Siders lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers, 4-2.

Now let’s go back to that incredible seventh inning when the White Sox tallied 11 times on only a single by Johnny Callison. Three Kansas City pitchers (Tom Gorman, Mark Freeman and George Brunet) issued ten walks, Brunet hit Callison, while Athletics’ defenders Joe DeMaestri, Hal Smith and Roger Maris committed three errors.

Over the course of 9 innings, the Go Go Sox amassed 16 hits including six for extra bases.  Fox had three singles, a double, two walks and drove in five.

Unfortunately, White Sox starter Wynn could not stick around to enjoy the Athletics’ largess. In Wynn’s worst outing of the year, Kansas City knocked him out in the second after he gave up 6 earned runs. The victory went to Shaw who pitched 7.1 innings of scoreless relief. Bud Daley, ironically not part of the catastrophic seventh, absorbed Athletics’ loss.

Hank Bauer, who managed the Athletics from 1961-1962 and the Oakland A’s (1969), said that of the tens of thousands of baseball games he watched, no two were ever alike.

No game proves Bauer’s point more than the April White Sox-Kansas City game.


Joe Guzzardi belongs to the Society for American Baseball Research, as well as the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America. Email him at