Thanksgiving, Turkey Reds and Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown

What better season to talk about the magnificent T-3 Turkey Reds baseball card set than Thanksgiving?

Collectors argue about which among the Turkey Reds, the T-206 or the Topps 1952 sets is most stunning. I’ve seen examples of all three cards side-by-side-by and it’s hard to choose against Turkey Reds.

In terms of their art work, both the tobacco card sets dwarf the Topps.

From mid-1910 through mid-1911, packs of Turkey Reds, Old Mill and Fez brand cigarettes contained coupons redeemable for a full-color, cabinet sized (5 3/4″ X 8″) premium picturing one of 100 different baseball players and 26 boxers. See the boxing set here. The cards survive as wonderful pieces of art and history.

In the first series of T-3s, numbered 1-50, is a pitcher known to virtually every baseball fan because of his unusual name and nickname—Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown. See Brown’s #1 card here. And—sign of our times—visit his website here.

Brown, dubbed “Three Finger” because of a childhood farm injury, was the dominant pitcher for the Chicago Cubs from 1906-1912. During that period, Brown won 20 or more games six times and was part of two World Series championships.

Brown had a curve ball that Ty Cobb called the “most devastating” that he had ever faced. Although Brown didn’t have what could be called a traditional fastball, he threw his pitches from various angles and showed batters different looks within their same turn at the plate.

The rivalry between Brown and the Giants’ Christy Mathewson was legendary stuff. Giants’ manager John McGraw said the two were the best he had ever seen. In their 25 matchups, Brown had a slim career 13-11 edge on Mathewson with one no-decision.

In one of baseball’s oddities, Brown and Mathewson ended their Hall of Fame careers by facing off against each other on September 4, 1916. Billed as the final meeting between baseball’s greatest hurlers, Mathewson prevailed in an atypical 10-8 slugfest.

Mathewson on Brown:

Brown is my idea of the almost perfect pitcher… It will usually be found at the end of a season, that he has taken part in more key games than any other pitcher in baseball.

Brown finished his major league career with a 239-130 record, 1375 strikeouts and a 2.06 ERA, the third best ERA in Major League Baseball history amongst players inducted into the Hall of Fame, after Ed Walsh and Addie Joss. His 2.06 ERA is also the best for any pitcher with more than 200 wins.

Following Brown’s retirement, he returned to his home in Terre Haute, Indiana.  In addition to coaching and managing, Brown continued to pitch in the minor leagues and local exhibition games for more than a decade. According to his biography, Three Finger: The Mordecai Brown Story, Brown was still masterful at age 51. In a 1928 exhibition game against the famous House of David, Brown pitched three innings for the home team and struck out all nine batters.

From 1920 to 1945 Brown ran a filling station, as they were quaintly called decades ago, that also served as a town gathering place and an unofficial museum. Brown was also a frequent guest at Old-Timers’ games in Chicago.

On Brown’s website, Ferguson Jenkins offers a wonderful quote that explains why baseball has such an important place in our hearts. Said Jenkins:

It’s interesting that Mordecai Brown pitched fifty years before I showed up, and yet we stood on the same field. We both hurled a ball toward a batter standing in virtually the same location…… We both won a lot of games for the Cubs; he won the second highest number of games for the club, and I’m number five. We both managed to pitch several shutouts in the Windy City. It’s my honor to have been the pitcher who broke one of Three Finger’s records. Until I finished my sixth consecutive season of more than 20 wins, in 1972, Mordecai had been the only Cub to do it.

Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? Bill King

Claim to fame: King was a fixture on sports broadcasts in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond for four decades. The voice of the Oakland A’s from 1981 until his death in 2005, King did a bit of everything well, also calling Warriors games from 1962 until 1983 and Raider games from 1966 until 1992. Former San Francisco Giants announcer Hank Greenwald worked Warriors games with King in the ’60s and ’70s and praised his former partner and closest friend in broadcasting. In a phone interview with this Website on Tuesday evening, Greenwald said of King, “He always had excitement in his voice. He always had that ability to create that word picture that’s vital to radio listeners.”

Current Hall of Fame eligibility: Since he was a broadcaster, King can not be inducted into the Hall of Fame. There is no writers or broadcasters wing of the museum, so to speak. What there is at Cooperstown is a permanent exhibit that honors the best media to cover the game, commemorating writers who win the J.G. Taylor Spink Award and broadcasters who receive the Ford Frick Award. Along with nine other broadcasters including Tim McCarver, King is a finalist for this year’s Frick award.

Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? Disclaimer aside that King wouldn’t be enshrined in Cooperstown, he’d make an interesting addition to the media exhibit. His catchphrase “Holy Toledo” seems worthy of inclusion regardless. King will face tough competition from McCarver who looks like the favorite and perhaps Graham McNamee who’d make an interesting historical choice seeing as he was the first person to broadcast a baseball game back in 1922. But even if King doesn’t get into Cooperstown this year or ever, he may belong in a Hall of Fame somewhere.

Greenwald’s son Doug, the announcer for the Triple-A Fresno Grizzlies said King was like an uncle to him, “my American League dad” and that if there simply were a general sports broadcasting Hall of Fame, King would deserve to be in. Greenwald echoed his son’s sentiments and didn’t hesitate when asked if King had been honored by the NBA Hall of Fame. “I know for a fact that he has not,” Greenwald said. “That’s something that has bothered many of us.”

Greenwald said that perhaps the issue for King was that he did well in a number of sports but didn’t stick out in any of them. It’s the same sort of problem that keeps certain directors from winning Oscars, certain writers relegated to Pulitzer Prizes for something called General Excellence. Life isn’t always good about rewarding steady consistency rather than ephemeral brilliance, though the Hall of Fame makes a fairly decent point of honoring that. The question, I suppose, is if King did enough in his baseball broadcasting career to merit its equivalent of a lifetime achievement award. We’ll find out on December 7 when the voting results are announced.

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

Others in this series: Adrian BeltreAl OliverAlan TrammellAlbert Belle, Albert PujolsAllie ReynoldsBarry BondsBarry LarkinBert BlylevenBilly MartinBobby GrichCecil TravisChipper JonesClosersCurt FloodDan QuisenberryDarrell EvansDave ParkerDick AllenDon Mattingly,Don NewcombeGeorge SteinbrennerGeorge Van HaltrenGus GreenleeHarold BainesHarry DaltonJack MorrisJim EdmondsJoe CarterJoe PosnanskiJohn SmoltzJuan GonzalezKeith HernandezKen CaminitiLarry Walker,Manny RamirezMaury WillsMel HarderMoises AlouPete Browning,Phil CavarrettaRafael PalmeiroRoberto AlomarRocky Colavito,Roger MarisRon GuidryRon SantoSmoky Joe WoodSteve Garvey,Ted SimmonsThurman MunsonTim RainesTony OlivaWill Clark

Another day, another guest post

Editor’s note: This week’s edition of “Does he belong in the Hall of Fame?” will be posted sometime this afternoon or evening.


I am making the rounds.

In the interest of promoting our project on the 50 best players not in the Hall of Fame and also in the interest of writing for some big baseball sites, I have done a few guest posts in the past week.

I shared here a few days ago about my post for The Hardball Times on players who got one vote for the Hall of Fame. Now, I have a guest post up at High Heat Stats, the new de facto blog for

I wrote about the Hall of Fame, of course, asking if it was time for the museum to create some more committees to deal with the backlog of candidates. Cooperstown, historically, has enshrined about two-thirds of its honorees through the use of committees, be it the Veterans or Negro League committees or others from the early days of the museum. I proposed a number of additional committees. I had fun with it.

Anyhow, I’m not sure if I’ll be doing any more guest posts ahead of the voting deadline for the project on December 1, but I’ll post here if I do.

Sal “The Barber” Maglie: A Baseball Legend

Editor’s note: It is my pleasure to present another research paper from George Haloulakos. George and his father Vassilios contributed an outstanding paper last month on Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax. This paper, written solely by George Haloulakos, concerns one of the mentors for Drysdale and Koufax. And Sal Maglie accomplished plenty in his own right. 


In the 1993 film, The Sandlot, a dream sequence features Babe Ruth telling a Little Leaguer that while “heroes get
remembered, legends never die.” Sal Maglie is a baseball legend. And though he died in 1992 at 75, he might always loom large in baseball history.

Nicknamed “The Barber,” Maglie was not only perhaps the most intimidating pitcher of all-time, but a clutch player, too. He did his best work in the biggest games on the grandest stage when New York– Giants, Dodgers and Yankees– ruled the baseball world from 1949-58. During that period, one or two of these teams played in the World Series every year, and Maglie played for all three teams during that span, usually as a significant or major contributor.

In many ways, Maglie encapsulated his era. It wasn’t just his baseball connection to the Big Apple. He also was one of many players to serve in World War II and was among a group that jumped immediately after the war to the Mexican League. Without his absence from the majors for either thing, which kept his career to 10 seasons, Maglie might be in the Hall of Fame today. Regardless, his ferocious reputation and moniker, is indelibly stamped in baseball lore.

Statistical overview

Maglie’s career path was a brief if circuitous one. He played with the New York Giants in 1945 and again from 1950 to 55, the Cleveland Indians 1955-56, the Brooklyn Dodgers 1956-57, the New York Yankees 1957-58, and the St. Louis Cardinals 1958. Nevertheless, Maglie racked up some impressive stats in a short time.

Among his feats in 10 major league seasons:

  • 119-62 lifetime record
  • 0.657 winning percentage (19th all-time)
  • 3.15 ERA
  • 232 starts with 93 complete games
  • 25 shutouts
  • 1,723 innings, allowed 1,591 hits, 862 strikeouts and 562 walks
  • Hit 44 batters

Maglie’s peak performance came between 1950 and ’52 with the Giants where he posted 59 wins against 18 losses. His year-by-year records in that span are as follows:

  • 1950: 18-4
  • 1951: 23-6
  • 1952: 18-8


  • NL Leader – ERA (2.71) in 1950
  • NL Leader – Shutouts (5) in 1950
  • NL Leader – W/L % (0.818) in 1950
  • NL Leader – Wins (23) in 1951
  • NL All-Star – 1951-52

His finest season, 1956 with the Dodgers:

An interesting bit of trivia: Sal Maglie is one of seven pitchers to have played for the New York Giants, Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Yankees. (The others were Johnny Allen, Burleigh Grimes, Waite Hoyt, Lefty O‟Doul, Bobo Newsom and Rosy Ryan.)

Before all this, though, Maglie had an unremarkable minor league career interrupted by wartime service. Then, following one season with the Giants in 1945, Maglie was out of the majors for four years as he played in the Mexican League and elsewhere. It took a lot of persistence and patience for Maglie to become the savvy veteran pitcher that he was. Here is the journey he made.

Minors, majors, Mexico

Maglie went 38-47 with a 3.52 ERA over six minor league seasons. His performance improved sharply in his final two seasons. In 1941, he was 20-15 with a 2.67 ERA in A ball, and then in AA ball in 1942, he was 9-6 with a 2.78 ERA.

In 1942, Sal Maglie was called up by the draft board but deemed unfit for military service in World War II due to a chronic sinus condition. For 1943-44 he was advised to go into defense work and was placed on organized baseball’s “voluntary retired list.” Maglie worked as a pipe fitter in a defense plant; his employers during that time were International Paper, Union Carbide, and Atlas Steel. As a resident of Niagra Falls, New York, Maglie sharpened his pitching skills during this period by managing and pitching for Canadian amateur teams.

In 1945, Maglie finally debuted in the majors at 28, going 5-4 for the Giants. In those years, with players bound by the Reserve Clause and very intense competition for pitching slots on eight teams in each league, players had an opportunity to earn 50-100 percent more by jumping to the Mexican League. This was especially tempting and profitable for players who were rapidly advancing in age such as Maglie, and facing prospects of limited playing time by staying stateside. The corresponding risk, however, was that for a few years after WWII, players who had jumped to the Mexican League were banned from the majors. This ban was later rescinded, but kept certain players from immediately returning to MLB.

While some have speculated that Maglie’s tenure in the Mexican League plus the years lost to WWII may have cost him the chance to win 200 games, as a practical matter his Mexican tenure helped him become dominant, while achieving a measure of financial respectability, if not prosperity. Ken Burns in his book, Baseball: An Illustrated History, observed that Maglie earned five times more playing south of the border as he would have with the Giants. Maglie’s Mexican League earnings enabled him to purchase a home and a gas station in Niagra Falls, New York that offered self-employment during the off-season and a semblance of security after baseball. The Mexican League also reconnected Maglie with Deadball Era ace Dolf Luque who helped him develop his best pitch, the curve ball, and refine his aggressive style.

Luque first became acquainted with Maglie while serving as a pitching coach for the Giants. He convinced Maglie to sign with the Mexican League and taught him how to pitch the curve from three different release points: overhand, sidearm and underhand. This multiple release technique enabled Maglie to pitch in drastically harsh conditions where the various climates and air conditions at different altitudes would cause the ball to behave very differently. As detailed near the end of this recent paper on Don Drysdale and Sandy Koufax, a curve ball can move very differently depending on how it’s thrown.

Luque also taught Maglie the necessity of pitching inside and repeatedly brushing back hitters to take control of a game. And while it’s uncertain what effect if any it had on Maglie, it’s worth noting that Luque carried a .22 caliber pistol and would sometimes fire between a player’s legs to get his attention. Maglie said Luque worked him constantly and was all business in helping him transform into a dominant pitcher. In two full seasons under Luque’s tutelage, Maglie posted consecutive 20-win seasons, going 20-12 with a 3.19 ERA in 1946 followed by a 20-13 campaign and 3.92 ERA.

Maglie then joined a barnstorming team that was a “splinter” or “offshoot” of the Mexican League and is reported by his biographer James Szaltonai in Close Shave to have recorded 14 wins. Unlike the Mexican League, however, complete records were not maintained in this barnstorming run, so the final record cannot be fully verified. But what is verified is that playing conditions south of the border were extraordinarily difficult.

First, there were no grass infields and outfields were hard as brick due to the clay underneath the surface. Some ball parks were in the midst of railroad yards where passing freight trains would interrupt games. Riots often broke out at the games, and teams traveled by bus from town to town over narrow, winding roads in mountainous terrain. Maglie reportedly spent approximately $1500 of his own money on airplane travel during his two-year sojourn to avoid the risk and hassles of riding the bus, as it was popularly understood by residents and visitors alike that while people always got on the bus, they did not always get off.

The ban on US major league players who had jumped to the Mexican League was lifted in 1949, and Maglie was able to eventually rejoin the Giants. Before doing so, he played in Canada for the Drummondville Cubs in the Quebec Provincial League where he posted an 11-2 record and three post season wins to pace the team to a championship. His best was yet to come.

How the legend of “The Barber” came to be

Maglie had a triumphant return to the majors in 1950. He posted a dazzling 18-4 record with the best ERA in the National League, 2.71. Maglie appeared in 47 games altogether as he began the season as a reliever but became a starter in the second half completing 12 of 16 starts. Although other pitchers started 15-20 more games, Maglie led the league in shutouts with five. Of note, Maglie hit 10 batters during the season, which represented 23 percent of the 44 total he hit during his big league career. Perhaps appropriately, Maglie got his famous moniker in 1950.

Maglie claims that New York Daily News baseball reporter Jim McCulley gave him this nickname as a tribute to the way Maglie would “shave the batters” chins by throwing high-and-tight. Giant pitching coach Frank Shellenback is also credited with having giving him the nickname because of the way Maglie shaved the corners. There is also the claim that Giant manager Leo Durocher gave him the nickname because Maglie supposedly resembled the barber in the third chair at the hotel where the players stayed.

Regardless of the origin what is certain is that Maglie was masterful in giving close shaves to batters. In his book, The Head Game: Baseball Seen From the Pitcher’s Mound, Roger Kahn quoted Maglie saying, “The hell with all the hitters. The hell with all of them.” Kahn, who covered the Dodgers during the ’50s, said there was never a meaner pitcher and that Maglie did not know the meaning of the word “remorse.” Decades later, Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan, in his book, Kings of the Hill, ranked Sal Maglie the #1 all-time pitcher in the category of “intimidators.” (Interestingly enough, the #2 intimidator selected by Ryan was Don Drysdale, with Bob Gibson as #4– both Maglie star pupils.) Other nicknames given to Maglie were “Sinister Sal” and “The Renaissance Assassin” but he is best remembered as “The Barber.”

Maglie played to win

Baseball during the 1950s was a rough, tough and intense game in which there were beanball wars, fights, bench jockeying, retaliation and take-out slides. Maglie used the baseball as a weapon to gain both a psychological and physical
advantage over the hitter. By always threatening to give a close shave, Maglie forced batters to often make a choice between their own personal survival or hitting the ball. When Maglie played ball, he went to war. If he was going to
lose, Maglie would go down with his best pitch regardless of the game situation or the count. In Maglie’s case this often meant throwing a curve on a 3-1 count with runners on base.

Years later Maglie acknowledged that the knockdown pitch was his weapon of choice and that he never, ever thought of giving it up. He likened such an unlikely decision to Marilyn Monroe stopping to wear sweaters. It simply would not happen.

Clutch Pitcher in Hot Pennant Races

Maglie was a big winner in September, the final month of the 154-game regular season, during the hottest NL pennant races of the 1950s. Here’s a look:

Giants 1950-55

  • 1950: Maglie goes 5-1 with two shutouts to help the Giants finish in third place, five games behind the pennant-winning Philadelphia Phillies.
  • 1951: Maglie goes 6-1 games with one shut-out enabling Giants to tie Dodgers for first place in the regular season (after having trailed NL leading Dodgers by 13-1/2 games in mid-August.) Maglie helps New York win 37 of its last 44 games and starts the finale of the three-game playoff against Brooklyn, keeping the Dodgers to four runs.
  • 1952: Maglie goes 4-2 with one shutout that paces Giants to a second place finish behind the Dodgers.
  • 1954: In a spot-starting role in game #148, Maglie records a 7-1 win over Dodgers that increases Giants lead over Brooklyn to 6-1/2 games. While it’s the only decision of the month for The Barber, it helps New York eventually win the pennant by five games.

Dodgers 1956-57

  • 1956: Maglie records six wins with two shut-outs against one loss enabling the Dodgers to win the pennant by one game over the Milwaukee Braves. The Bums had to play catch up with Maglie’s September 25 no-hitter bringing them within half a game of Milwaukee and Maglie’s final win in Game #152 giving Brooklyn a one-game lead.

Center stage in the biggest games of the 1950s

Maglie was noted for pitching very well on center stage in the three biggest games of the 1950s: for New York in Game 3 of the 1951 playoff when Bobby Thomson hit “The Shot Heard Round the World” to win the pennant for the Giants; Game 1 of the 1954 World Series when Willie Mays made his great catch off Vic Wertz; and Game 5 for the Dodgers in the 1956 World Series when Don Larsen pitched his perfect game for the Yankees.

In both the ’51 playoff finale and Game 1 of the ’54 Series, Maglie received a no-decision but pitched well enough for his team to win by limiting the opposition to fewer runs than they usually scored. The 1951 Dodgers averaged 5.45 runs per game, but with Maglie holding Brooklyn to 4 runs, this enabled the Giants to win the game (and the pennant) 5-4 on Thomson’s three-run bomb. In 1954, the Indians won a record 111 games and averaged 4.84 runs per game entering the World Series. With Maglie holding Cleveland to two runs in seven innings, New York won Game 1 in extra innings and went on to sweep the Indians.

When Maglie joined Brooklyn in 1956 he became part of history as he held the Yankees to five hits and two runs in eight innings in Game 5 of the World Series, but lost as Larsen pitched his perfect game. With Maglie having beaten the Yankees in Game 1, 6-3 with a 10-strikeout performance, Larsen helped New York to triumph in seven games. Maglie did Brooklyn a service in 1956 even by simply not playing against the team. Lifetime, The Barber went 23-11 against the Bums, and his record was even better at Ebbets Field, 11-3 in a ballpark known for being a hitters’ haven. From 1950-54, Maglie’s record against Brooklyn was a scintillating 22-6 while the Dodgers cumulative record was an NL-best 479-293.

Maglie out shined his own teams as well. In all, his .657 lifetime winning percentage was nearly 100 points higher than the combined .561 winning percentage for all the MLB teams he played for. The greatest team success enjoyed by Maglie occurred in 1954 when the Giants won their final World Series in New York. For all of 1954, the Giants allowed 550 runs or 3.57 runs per game, for a net ERA of -0.98. This meant that Giant pitchers were essentially one run lower than the National League average, fourth best all time, and Maglie went 14-6 with a 3.26 ERA.

Maglie’s 1-2 record in the 1951, ’54 and ’56 World Series understates how well he pitched. In four starts, Maglie posted a 3.41 ERA in 29 innings, with his team winning two of his four games. Considering that Maglie’s two losses were to the New York Yankees while they were in the midst of winning nine World Series titles in 14 appearances from 1948-64, and one of those losses was Larsen’s perfect game, Maglie battled tough odds while keeping his teams competitive. And he did every bit as well in the postseason as the regular season, this being best exemplified by Maglie posting recording a 2.65 ERA in the ’56 Series after compiling a 2.87 ERA during the regular season.

Passing the Art Along

Maglie achieved great pitching success. He also had enormous and positive influence on Cy Young winners Don Drysdale, Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson, and Jim Lonborg.

During his time in Brooklyn late in his career, Maglie taught Drysdale and Koufax the necessity of pitching inside and developing an effective curve ball. Maglie’s intimidating and aggressive style was adopted by both pitchers and helped the Dodgers win three World Series titles and four pennants between 1959 and 1966. It also helped earn them accolades, with Drysdale winning the Cy Young Award in 1962 and Koufax collecting the trophy in 1963, ’65, and ’66. Ultimately, both were inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Gibson, a Hall of Famer and two-time Cy Young winner, was also a Maglie protégé when “The Barber” finished his playing career with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1958 and served as a pitching instructor. Gibson helped lead the Cardinals to two World Series Championships and three pennants between 1964 and 1968, while setting the modern day record for lowest
ERA with 1.12 in 1968 and posting a 7-2 record in World Series play.

Lonborg won the Cy Young Award in leading the Boston Red Sox to their fabled “Impossible Dream” season in 1967 and helping the team reach the seventh game of the World Series before losing to the Cardinals. Maglie was the Red Sox pitching coach during that period, and Lonborg has said “The Barber’s” lessons on pitching inside enabled him to lead the AL in wins with 22 and strikeouts with 246, while posting a 3.16 ERA. Also of note, Lonborg hit 19 batters that year, perhaps heeding Maglie’s message to pitch inside to keep hitters off balance.

The irony of Game 7 in the 1967 World Series was that the pitching match-up featured two Maglie protégés: Gibson versus Lonborg. Gibson won three games including Game 7 while Lonborg won two, including a one-hit shutout in Game 2. So less than a decade after his retirement from the mound, “The Barber” was still cutting a swath in the Fall Classic– having passed along the art of intimidation to top pitchers who carried on his legacy.

The Ball Four Portrayal: Truth, Hyperbole, or Both?

Despite such an impressive list of protégés, former Yankee 20-game winner and Ball Four author Jim Bouton strongly criticized Maglie as a pitching coach for the 1969 Seattle Pilots. Bouton‟s portrayal of Maglie implied both a lack of communication and knowledge on the art of pitching. Perhaps this perception resulted from both generational and stylistic differences. Bouton was at the end of his major league career and working to master a most difficult pitch– the knuckleball. Maglie, by his own admission, was a practical pitcher who did not engage in profound introspection on the game and was courteous but reserved with both players and coaches. His pitching philosophy was quite simply to shave the corners.

In her Sandy Koufax biography, Jane Leavy quoted him saying, “When a pupil is ready, a teacher will come.” This explained how All Star pitcher Al Leiter excelled working with Koufax, even though Leiter already had two World Series Championships and a no-hitter. Leiter simply wanted to get even better, and he was eager to learn from Koufax. On this basis, one may infer that players like Drysdale, Koufax, Gibson and Lonborg were ready for the type of instruction Maglie offered. Bouton, also eager to learn, was seeking instruction on a highly specialized pitch that few have ever mastered. Bouton desired to explore the game more deeply in terms of philosophy, mechanics and various nuances. Perhaps The Barber’s shop just wasn’t the right place for Bouton to do it.

Like Fine Wine, Maglie Improved With Age

In his short career, Maglie aged like fine wine and was appreciated as such. Like Ted Williams and Warren Spahn, he was an ageless wonder in 1956, finishing second place in voting for the NL Cy Young and Most Valuable Player awards. At 39, Maglie went 13-5 with a 2.89 ERA and became the second-oldest pitcher behind Cy Young to toss a no-hitter. Of his no-no, 5-0 against the Phillies, Maglie claimed he was a much better pitcher than 1950-51 because he was more efficient and adaptable. Following his triumph Maglie observed he threw only 110 pitches and felt able to throw both the fast ball and curve as circumstances warranted.

Maglie played two more years, serving as a spot starter for the Yankees in 1957 and ’58 and completing the rare feat of having played for all three New York teams. He went 3-1 with a 3.18 ERA for the Yanks over parts of two seasons before closing out his career with a 2-6 stint in ’58 for the Cardinals.

Closing thoughts

Salvatore Anthony Maglie personified post-WWII baseball during the 1950s. His honorable wartime service and playing time in the Mexican League resulted in a late start to his big league career. But he had an uncanny ability to surmount difficult playing conditions from the mountains of Mexico to the snows of Canada. He beat the strongest teams of his era, played his best in clutch situations, and all the while overcame age and physical limitations. Terry Cashman immortalized Maglie in his song “Talkin’ Baseball” with his nickname “The Barber.” Be it in verse, with his stats, or in the memories of those who saw him play, Maglie still casts an intimidating presence. He is a legend of the game.

About the author

George A. Haloulakos, MBA, CFA:  Teacher, Author and Entrepreneur. Chartered Financial Analyst [CFA] and consultant: DBA Spartan Research and Consulting specializing in finance, strategy and new business ventures. Award-winning university instructor. Published author of DOLLAR$ AND SENSE: A Workbook on the ABCs of Investments. Hobbyist – aviation, baseball, spaceflight and science fiction. Lifetime member of Strathmore’s Who’s Who
Registry of Business Leaders. Member of ordained clergy in Orthodox Church in America (rank/title of Reverend Protodeacon). E-mail:


Baseball: An Illustrated History, Geoffrey Ward and Ken Burns, Alfred Knopf. 1994.
Charmed Circle: Twenty-Game-Winning Pitchers in Baseball’s 20th Century, Mel R. Freese, McFarland & Company, 1997.
Close Shave: The Life and Times of Baseball’s Sal Maglie, James D. Szalontai, McFarland & Company, 2002.
Franklin Big League Baseball Electronic Encyclopedia, 1993.
John M. Deegan, Baseball Enthusiast and Collector.
Kings of the Hill: An Irreverent Look at the Men on the Mound, Nolan Ryan with Mickey Herskowitz, Harper Collins, 1992.
Lost Summer: The ’67 Red Sox and the Impossible Dream, Bill Reynolds, Warner Books, 1992.
Once a Bum, Always a Dodger: My Life in Baseball From Brooklyn to Los Angeles, Don Drysdale with Bob Verdi, St. Martin’s Press, 1990.
Personal Collection of George A. Haloulakos, Baseball Hobbyist. CDs, DVDs, scrapbook of news and magazine articles, baseball cards, game programs and books.
Sandy Koufax: A Lefty’s Legacy, Jane Leavy, Harper Collins, 2000.
The Best & Worst Baseball Teams of All Time, Harry Hollingsworth, S.P.I Books, 1994.
The Head Game: Baseball Seen From the Pitcher’s Mound, Roger Kahn, Harcourt, 2000.
Vassilios E. Haloulakos, Scientist, Engineer and Professor. Lecture notes on physics and applied mathematics.
1956 World Series, Game 5, October 8 at Yankee Stadium: Complete original radio broadcast with Bob Neal and Bob Wolff on CD (from The Miley Collection) – including all commercials plus the pre-game and post-game shows.

Manager Wanted: Little or No Experience Wanted

I am disappointed I missed the ad in all the major newspapers and baseball trade papers. It must have read something like this:

The St. Louis Cardinals and Chicago White Sox have a position open for team manager at the major league level.  No experience necessary at any level. First come, first served as the need is quite urgent.  The Chicago Cubs have a vacancy as well.  Applicants should have a few days of experience but not be considered a viable candidate by any other major league team.  The Boston Red Sox wish to interview every potential candidate but are not seriously interested in hiring anyone at this time.

How could I have missed such an ad?  Which of us hasn’t thought we could do a better job of running a baseball game than those currently employed in such a position? Finally I would have had an opportunity at the major league level for a position of authority in which my qualifications were perfect, except maybe for the Cub opening.  What a chance I missed.

Only the manager’s chair in Boston seems to be still open to me.  The only drawback for that position seems to be that I really wouldn’t be working or drawing a salary. But then again, I do have experience in both categories in the past. There have been times years ago where I was in just such a position. I believe, if memory serves, it was when I was unemployed. If I can find one of my old resumes, I am sure that the Boston Red Sox management would be quite impressed by my skillful adaptation to any unemployment situation which might have presented itself to me at the time.  I will admit that it’s been quite some time since I have not worked in that particular field but I am sure I could quickly recall my experiences.

The city of Chicago had two openings, sadly only one of which I was qualified.  The Cubs would not have hired my services as I have no experience managing at the major league level.  But I do qualify as a person which no other team would want if I did indeed have that experience. I wonder if second-guessing managerial moves in front of my television screen could be counted and should be included on my resume. Through the beauty of hindsight, I have not made one mistake in managing a major league game for over 40 years now.

I was qualified, if not over-qualified, for the managerial openings on the Southside of Chicago and in St. Louis.  I say over-qualified because many years ago, I coached a Little League game. The White Sox and Cardinals have concluded that the years of experience by their respective minor league coaches and managers are the wrong approach. These teams have decided  that the years of experience by coaches at the major league levels and past insistence on knowing how to not only run a game properly but also dealing with 25 different personalities should have no place in baseball.

I should add that I won that Little League game, and I remain to this day undefeated. I proved then that experience can be a hindrance and an out-and-out undesirable qualification in the quest for a championship. If only I had seen the want ad in time. My wife and I might be planning a spring trip, all expenses paid, to Florida come March.

University of Hawaii Research Finds Baseball Doughnut a Failure

Jerry Priddy was one of those 1940s-1950s players who played well enough. In two seasons with the New York Yankees, three with the Washington Senators, two with the St. Louis Browns and four with the Detroit Tigers, Priddy was a steady if not spectacular performer.

Career line: G-1,296; ABs-4,720; HR-61; RBIs-541; BA-.265

But if you take a look at Priddy’s 1952 Topps baseball card #28 on this page, you would think he was one of the era’s greatest sluggers.

One of the things I most miss from baseball long ago is the on-deck hitter swinging a half- a-dozen bats as he waited his turn. When Elston Howard invented the doughnut in the 1960s, originally called an “on-deck bat weight.” I figured it was a convenient way for players to loosen up that would achieve the same results as the multi-bat system. Once the weight is removed from the bat, the lumber gets lighter so the swing can speed up—or so the thinking went.

But as recently reported by the Wall Street Journal, based on studies conducted at the University of Hawaii, a weight increase or decrease on a player’s bat between 10 percent and 13 percent will decrease bat speed from three to five miles per hour.

Physical education professor Coop DeRenne has studied the doughnut’s adverse effect on hitters for more than 20 years. DeRenne called Major League Baseball “a dinosaur sport” for refusing to recognize the value of his research. According to DeRenne, more than a dozen big league batting coaches and managers agreed that players are foolishly locked into routine and superstition—a good start but not enough to convince MLB bureaucrats.

Returning to Priddy, his post-baseball years were more interesting than his 11 year career. After he left the Tigers in 1953, Priddy spent four years in the Pacific Coast League as a player (Seattle Rainers, Sacramento Solons and San Francisco Seals) and one as a manager (Solons). Then in 1973, the FBI arrested Priddy in California on charges of trying to extort $250,000 from a steamship company by threatening to place a bomb aboard the Island Princess, one of its vessels.He was convicted and sentenced to nine months in prison.

Priddy’s former teammate Phil Rizzuto later said the he could never believe “that whole extortion thing.”

Rizzuto said:

That wasn’t the Gerry I knew. He was outspoken and hotheaded … but outside of baseball he was a regular guy. He knew a lot of prominent business people. It just didn’t make sense. He called me when he got out of prison and told me if he’d have to spend one more day in there he’d have been a hardened criminal.

The highlight of Priddy’s career may have come during World War II when, in Hawaii as a young private, he played alongside Joe DiMaggio for the 7th Army Air Force Flyers. Priddy also appeared in the Army-Navy Service World Series in October 1944.

Any player/Any era: Wes Ferrell

What he did: It started with something I read on Twitter that Dwight Gooden hit eight home runs lifetime. That didn’t seem all that awe-inspiring, given that I recently wrote here about Don Drysdale’s hitting prowess, noting he went yard 29 times during his career. I got to wondering if Drysdale had the record for most home runs hit by a pitcher. He does not. That record belongs to Wes Ferrell, whose brother Rick might be the worst player in the Hall of Fame. When people complain about Rick’s induction, they sometimes cite that he wasn’t even the best member of his family. Wes Ferrell isn’t enshrined, but even so, he’s a unique player in baseball history.

In a 15-season career between 1927 and 1941, Ferrell went 193-128 with a 4.04 ERA, winning 20 games six times. It’s his career batting numbers, though, that place him in a special class: players with 10+ WAR for both pitching and hitting. Over 1,176 at-bats, Ferrell hit .280 with 38 home runs, 208 RBI, and 11.2 lifetime offensive WAR. His career OPS+ of 100 suggests he was comparable to an average batter of his time, no easy feat in the hitter-friendly era immediately preceding World War II. The 37 homers Ferrell hit as a pitcher are a record, as are the nine he hit in 1931. In another era, his offensive numbers could be greater still.

Era he might have thrived in: In his own time, Ferrell was a rotation-anchoring pitcher, sometimes brilliant, often temperamental. He also pinch hit and occasionally roamed the outfield, even smacking one of his home runs while in the lineup as a field player. With the Colorado Rockies in the late 1990s, Ferrell could have his choice of playing outfield full-time or being the best-hitting pitcher in the modern era, bar none.

Why: I’ll start by running the stat conversions, which are insane. In 1931 with the Indians, Ferrell hit .319 with nine home runs and 30 RBI in 116 at-bats. On the 1999 Rockies, Ferrell’s numbers convert to 10 home runs, 41 RBI, and a .341 batting average in 126 at-bats. Projecting those conversions to a 600 at-bat season, Ferrell would theoretically hit 48 home runs and 195 RBI (though some leveling off in production over a year would be expected.) The idea of Ferrell playing full-time in the field isn’t too outlandish. His pitching arm, good for a career-high of 143 strikeouts in 1930, might make him a great sidekick for cannon-armed right fielder Larry Walker.

Course, Ferrell’s already-colorful pitching line might get grotesque on the ’99 Rockies, who surrendered 1,028 runs and boasted a 6.01 ERA as a staff. Converting Ferrell’s 1931 numbers– 22-12 record with a 3.75 ERA for Cleveland– he’d go 18-12 with a 4.57 ERA and 144 walks for Colorado if he stuck with pitching full-time. It’d be nothing Cy Young-worthy, and Ferrell’s career ERA might approach 5.00. But Ferrell still could be the Rockies staff ace, and it’s worth nothing he pitched some of his best actual years in League Park II, perhaps the Coors Field of its time. Even if Ferrell were more a position player for Colorado, say the starting left fielder, he’d at least make a heck of a surprise relief pitcher from time to time, a secret weapon for the Rockies if there ever was one.

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

Others in this series: Al SimmonsAlbert PujolsBabe RuthBad News Rockies,Barry BondsBilly BeaneBilly MartinBob CaruthersBob FellerBob Watson,Bobby VeachCarl MaysCharles Victory FaustChris von der Ahe,Denny McLainDom DiMaggioDon DrysdaleEddie LopatFrank HowardFritz MaiselGavvy CravathGeorge CaseGeorge WeissHarmon KillebrewHarry WalkerHome Run BakerHonus WagnerHugh CaseyIchiro SuzukiJack ClarkJackie RobinsonJim AbbottJimmy WynnJoe DiMaggioJoe PosnanskiJohnny AntonelliJohnny FrederickJosh HamiltonKen Griffey Jr.Lefty GroveLefty O’DoulMajor League (1989 film),Matty AlouMichael JordanMonte IrvinNate ColbertPaul Derringer, Pedro MartinezPee Wee ReesePete RosePrince FielderRalph KinerRick AnkielRickey Henderson,Roberto ClementeRogers HornsbySam CrawfordSam Thompson,Sandy KoufaxSatchel PaigeShoeless Joe JacksonStan MusialTed WilliamsThe Meusel BrothersTy CobbVada PinsonWally BunkerWill ClarkWillie Mays

The Lou Limmer Line

Although Mario Mendoza is synonymous with batting ineptitude– thus the infamous “Mendoza Line” used in reference to hitting less than .200– I prefer Lou Limmer.

First, the “Lou Limmer Line” is more mellifluous. But even better, Limmer ended his career with a .202 average, a full 13 points below Mendoza’s .215 (though Mendoza still sets the standard for anemic production with his OPS+ of 44, far below Limmer’s 75.) Limmer was also the more interesting player, by far.

Of Mendoza, little was expected. He played good glove, no bat for the Pittsburgh Pirates, the Seattle Mariners and the Texas Rangers before calling it quits and returning to his native Mexico. But the highly-touted Limmer was an acute disappointment for the long suffering Philadelphia Athletics’ fans.

Here’s Limmer’s write up from the 1951 A’s yearbook:

Pride of the A’s farm system is Lollopin’ Lou Limmer who was voted the Rookie of the Year for American Association in 1950. Lou slammed 29 homers and drove in 111 runs to lead the Association in both categories. Lou hopes he’s here to stay.

But Limmer bombed; he hit .159 with only five home runs in 94 games. Not until 1954 did Philadelphia see Limmer again. That year, he performed slightly better, hitting .231 with 14 homers in 115 games.

As the 1954 A’s yearbook ominously wrote:

Lou has never quite lived up to expectations but he is hoping this will be his year of fulfillment.

That was it for Limmer. As the A’s prepared to move to Kansas City, Limmer would return to AAA Columbus where he hit 28 homers and knocked in 82. Limmer is one of dozens of players who tore up the minors but couldn’t cut it in the big leagues. In 11 minor league seasons, Limmer hit 244 homers and batted over .280 five times.

A’s fans certainly missed Limmer. Famous for his prodigious pre-game slugging performances, A’s fans labeled Limmer “the Babe Ruth of batting practice.”

Even though his career was short, Limmer came in and went out with a bang. In his first Yankee Stadium appearance on April 23, 1951, the Bronx native powered a ninth inning pinch hit home run against Yankee ace Vic Raschi. Then, in 1954 on September 25 and 26 in their last games before the team moved to Kansas City, Limmer got the A’s last hit, a single off the Yankees’ Bob Grim and the team’s last home run, a solo shot off Yankees’ relief pitcher Johnny Sain.

Limmer was also part of baseball’s only three-way, all Jewish confrontation. OnMay 2, 1951 with the A’s at Detroit, the Tigers’ battery was pitcher Saul Rogovin and catcher Joe Ginsberg. Limmer pinch hit in the top of the ninth (again!) and hit a two-run homer off Rogovin’s first pitch to tie the game at 3-3. The A’s however, being the A’s, lost the tenth, 5-4. Limmer recalls his home run here.

Although it’s easy to poke good natured fun at Limmer, the Philadelphia Athletics’ Historical Society points out that in the 1950s Limmer was competing for one of 400 major league jobs. Today, the number is 750 and the slick fielding first baseman with his occasional power would be a welcome addition to most clubs.

Limmer, an Army Air Corps veteran and a big favorite at A’s reunions, died in 2007 at age 82.

Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? Albert Pujols

Claim to fame: Let’s be clear. This isn’t a column about whether Albert Pujols will eventually have a plaque in Cooperstown. This much is almost certain already. At 31, 11 seasons into a storied career, and currently the hottest thing on the free agent market, Pujols looks on track to one day rank as a legend. Heck, even today, he wouldn’t look too out of place at first base in an all-time dream lineup. I might take him over Jimmie Foxx, Lou Gehrig, or Hank Greenberg, and Foxx and Rogers Hornsby look like Pujols’ main competition for the title of best right handed hitter in baseball history.

If he stays healthy and plays until he’s 40, Pujols has a chance at some ridiculous numbers: 800 home runs, 4,000 hits, and Babe Ruth’s lifetime WAR record of 190. This week’s post, however, is about if Pujols doesn’t play until that point. Unlikely as the following scenario is, I’ll ask: What if Pujols were to retire today? Would his accomplishments thus far be enough for Cooperstown?

Current Hall of Fame eligibility: Pujols is an active player and won’t be eligible for consideration for Cooperstown from the Baseball Writers Association of America until five years after his retirement. Thus, the soonest he could be voted on as a Hall of Fame candidate is the fall of 2016. More likely if Pujols plays a full career, he’ll appear on his first and probably only Cooperstown ballot sometime around 2025.

Does he belong in the Hall of Fame? Yes, Pujols belongs if he plays a full career. And yes, even at this point, he’s probably done more than enough to merit a plaque. He could pull a Sandy Koufax and retire tomorrow, and as it was with the Dodger legend in 1972, Pujols would probably still be a first ballot Hall of Famer. Whether it’s his three National League Most Valuable Player awards, his 88.7 lifetime WAR that ranks second-best among active players, or the fact that he shatters every Hall of Fame metric listed on, Pujols boasts an impressive resume for Cooperstown. He’s precocious as the 14-year-old who finds their way into attending Harvard.

As I noted when I did one of these columns on Smoky Joe Wood awhile back, players have definitely been enshrined before with truncated careers. Ross Youngs and Addie Joss each earned plaques decades after dying not long past their 30th birthdays. Kirby Puckett retired at 35 in 1995 due to glaucoma but easily made Cooperstown as a first ballot selection with the writers in 2001. And besides Koufax, fellow virtuoso hurlers Dizzy Dean, Rube Waddell, and Don Drysdale, among others, were all done early and got their plaques. Pujols ranks as at least a peer with everyone of the men listed above. Really, he probably ranks as the best of that bunch.

Have their been exceptions? Certainly. Besides Wood, Denny McLain, and Roger Maris, there’s hard-drinking Deadball Era great Mike Donlin who hit .333 lifetime with a 144 OPS+ but walked away from baseball in 1907 at 28 to perform vaudeville with his new wife. He returned after a season, but was never the same player and later peaked at about three percent of the writers vote for Cooperstown. Statistically, though, Pujols ranks far beyond Donlin already, and even if he spurns the St. Louis Cardinals next year in favor of vaudeville or whatever its modern equivalent is, a Hall of Fame plaque is Pujols’ to lose.

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

Others in this series: Adrian BeltreAl OliverAlan TrammellAlbert BelleAllie ReynoldsBarry BondsBarry LarkinBert BlylevenBilly MartinBobby GrichCecil TravisChipper JonesClosersCurt FloodDan QuisenberryDarrell EvansDave ParkerDick AllenDon Mattingly,Don NewcombeGeorge SteinbrennerGeorge Van Haltren, Gus GreenleeHarold BainesHarry DaltonJack MorrisJim EdmondsJoe CarterJoe PosnanskiJohn SmoltzJuan GonzalezKeith HernandezKen CaminitiLarry Walker,Manny RamirezMaury WillsMel HarderMoises AlouPete Browning,Phil CavarrettaRafael PalmeiroRoberto AlomarRocky Colavito,Roger MarisRon GuidryRon SantoSmoky Joe WoodSteve Garvey,Ted SimmonsThurman MunsonTim RainesTony OlivaWill Clark