The New Biographical History of Baseball by Donald Dewey, Nicholas Acocella, and Jerome Holtzman - Read Online
The New Biographical History of Baseball
0% of The New Biographical History of Baseball completed



In a special collector's edition format, this revised edition of The New Biographical History of Baseball presents updated statistical research to create the most accurate picture possible of the on-field accomplishments of players from earlier eras. It offers original summaries of the personalities and contributions of over 1,500 players, managers, owners, front office executives, journalists, and ordinary fans who developed the great American game into a national pastime. Each individual included has had an impact on the sport as mass entertainment or as a cultural phenomenon, and as an athletic art or a business enterprise. Also included are first-time entries on players like Sammy Sosa and Albert Belle, and expanded entries for such players as Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds. This special resource for fans of baseball reflects the breakout talent and enduring fan favorites from all eras of the historic game.
Published: Triumph Books an imprint of Independent Publishers Group on
ISBN: 9781623687342
List price: $11.99
Availability for The New Biographical History of Baseball by Donald Dewey,...
With a 30 day free trial you can read online for free
  1. This book can be read on up to 6 mobile devices.


Book Preview

The New Biographical History of Baseball - Donald Dewey

You've reached the end of this preview. Sign up to read more!
Page 1 of 1


Foreword by Jerome Holtzman

Official Historian for Major League Baseball

If you have been looking for a centerpiece for your baseball library, the search is over. This newly revised and extended edition of The Biographical History of Baseball is the answer. It is not the usual lengthy textbook treatment of how and where the game began, loaded with stats and standings, but a tapestry of biographical studies of the men and the few women who made significant contributions.

Better yet, instead of the usual chronological order beginning with the 1869 Cincinnati Reds, the biographies are an easier read and assembled in alphabetical order—from Hank Aaron to George Zoeterman, who has been lost in the fog of time. The White Sox signed Zoeterman in 1947 in violation of the spirit of the high school rule and were suspended from the American League for one week, until they paid the $500 fine.

Virtually all of the Hall of Fame players, managers, and executives are accounted for. One would expect brief and cursory biographies, run-of-the-mill stuff, but the authors had the wisdom to lengthen them according to their relative importance. Also, and this is crucial, their subjects are exposed as never before. You won’t find any pap here.


On June 12, 1939, a dual ceremony was held in Coop­erstown, New York. The more conspicuous one celebrated the opening of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. The second—implicit in the first—formalized major league baseball’s move to enshrine itself as the national pastime and to charge an admission price for its past as well as its present.

In the six decades since that afternoon in Coop­ers­town, the history of baseball has lagged behind only the sport itself as a growth industry. Books, magazines, television documentaries, computer bulletin boards, newsletters, and academic treatises have charted the careers of all the Cincinnati milkmen who happened to drop by a ballpark and pitch a no-hitter in an 1882 exhibition game, while statistical research societies have furnished all the numbers necessary for dem­on­strating how many of those wun­derkinder were really better than Cy Young (give or take 500 victories). The more expansive school of historians has produced mountains of evidence that major league baseball, while not always aware of it, had a revolutionary impact on racism, management-labor strife, the Nazi threat, and other evils plaguing American society as a whole. A third concentration of writings in recent years has identified baseball with the securities of the nuclear family and the sublimations of the detonated psyche—a force for the continuity of sons relating to fathers and potential rooftop snipers redirecting their furies at umpires. othat kind might be congratulatory.

It is not the intention of The Biographical History of Baseball to slap together another congratu- latory tour of baseball’s names and numbers. Although one of this book’s assumptions is that the game has indeed served as a pastime for countless millions over 15 decades or more, and as such merits a cogent record of its development, The Biographical History does not accept that 19th-century trivia has become 20th-century significance merely for being recalled or that the journeymen players of the 1920s have turned into venerable all-stars simply for no longer being forgotten. We are not interested in electing people to the Hall of Fame or even in reducing the number of those already on the premises. What we are interested in is singling out those who, on and off the diamond, have been most responsible for developing baseball—primarily in athletic and business ways, but also in its larger cultural impact as a mass entertainment and in its smaller personal imprint as an arena for the imaginative, traumatic, and even tragic. The individuals listed in The Biographical History have, in the view of the authors, done the most for consolidating the legitimacy, respect, and criticism that the Hall of Fame and other repositories of baseball’s chronicles and legacies have attracted over the years.

The Biographical History is not a Who’s Who. There has been no attempt to include every distinguished player and front-office executive in the annals of the game. The criterion for choosing entries has been one, and only one: for better or worse, has the subject influenced the game, the popularity of the game, or the image of the game? Has baseball become richer or poorer as a sport, a business, or an entertainment because of his or her involvement in it? Did he or she leave a game that was different from the one entered?

The subjects covered by The Biographical History have been drawn mostly from the development of the National and American leagues. But since the history of the sport has hardly been exhausted by those two circuits, other entries owe their inclusion to their influence on a proto–major league (the National Association), the three 19th-century leagues (the American Association, the Union Association, and the Players League) recognized as having been major, the one defunct 20th-century circuit (the Fed­eral League) accorded the same status, the more begrudgingly acknowledged Negro leagues, the minor leagues, and some foreign circuits. The individuals cited within these areas fall into the follow­ing—and sometimes overlapping—groups.

Hall of Famers. Admittedly, election to Coopers­town has allowed several figures to slip under the rope of restrictions against capable but otherwise uninspiring contributors to the sport. This has been particularly obvious with regard to players (e.g., Ted Lyons and Herb Pennock) who owe their election to the one-time preponderance of big city sports­writers among voters and to officials who owe their enshrinement to the sport’s penchant for consecrating every aspect of the founding of the National League (e.g., Morgan Bulkeley) or its tendency to com­mem­orate fealty over an extended period (e.g., Ford Frick). At the very least, however, the inclusion of all those who have received plaques at the Hall of Fame reflects Major League Baseball’s own estimation of its standards, priorities, and achievements. Beyond that, naturally, are the numerous players, officials, and others who have been indisputably seminal in their athletic or organizational accomplishments.

The Protagonists. Those who have been at the cen­ter of the game’s defining dramatic moments.

The Innovators. In everything from playing regulations and playing gear to administrative and broad­­casting structures, changes in the sport have been the result of an individual’s insight, resolve, or, in some instances, misfortune.

The Record Holders. More markedly than in other professional sports, baseball has always prized primacies, superiorities, and durabilities as part of its competitiveness. In some cases (e.g., Roger Maris and Hank Aaron), changes in the record holder have occasioned more than a bigger number as a standard.

The Character Actors. Baseball has always been replete with thieves, hustlers, clowns, and buffoons whose antics have provided the color for a franchise, a season, or even an era.

The Suits and the Scouts. Not all front-office func­tionaries have been defined by their ability to blend into the background.

The Fans and the Media. Baseball has never been a tree falling in an empty forest. The central conten­tion of The Biographical History is that we would be watching an entirely different game today—if we were watching it at all—were it not for the impact of the people discussed in this book. Credit them or blame them. History, too, has always been a partisan sport.


HANK AARON (Hall of Fame, 1982)

Aaron ultimately prevailed over the racist luna­tics who threatened him during his pursuit of Babe Ruth’s career home run record, but he has had a much more difficult time erasing the impression that his feat was a sequel to Ruth’s achievement rather than an improvement upon it. Baseball’s vested interest in promoting its all-time icon has also served to reduce Aaron to a one-dimensional slugger, obscuring not only his all-around skills as a player but also his significant role as the farm director of the Braves for many years. This is why Willie Mays and other contemporaries have continued to insist into the new century that the righthand-hitting outfielder with a drawerful of lifetime offensive records and a plaque in Cooperstown has remained the game’s most underrated figure.

Aaron started out with the Milwaukee version of the Braves in 1954 after Bobby Thomson’s broken ankle opened up a starting spot in the outfield. Over the next 23 years he batted .305, forging major league career records not only with his 755 homers, but also with his 2,297 RBIs, 6,856 total bases, 1,477 extra-base hits, and 15 years of scoring 100 runs, 15 seasons with 30 or more home runs, and 20 campaigns with at least 20. He averaged higher than .300 14 times, won hitting titles in 1956 and 1959, led Nation­al League batters in home runs and RBIs four times each, drove in 100 runs 11 times, had the most doubles four times, reached 200 hits three times, and had at least 40 home runs in eight years. His 3,771 lifetime hits trails only Pete Rose and Ty Cobb. For all that, Aaron won merely one MVP award—in 1957 for leading the Braves to a pennant by pacing the NL in home runs (44), RBIs (132), and runs (118), batting .322, and slugging a round .600. It was also the first of three straight years that he won a Gold Glove as the league’s premier defensive right fielder.

Although he eventually lost his franchise in fielding awards to Roberto Clemente, the Gold Gloves suggested Aaron’s defensive qualities. Before tearing up a leg, he was also a superior baserunner with a full complement of Negro league abilities at forcing infielders to hurry throws and outfielders to make them to the wrong base. Aaron had only three opportunities to show off his talents under postseason pres­sures, but he made the most of them. In the 1957 World Series against the Yankees, he clouted three home runs and batted .393. In another meeting with the Yankees the following year, he batted .333. And against the Mets in the first NLCS in 1969, he hom­ered in each of the three games. Especially during the feel-good years in Milwaukee, Aaron sel­dom called attention to anything but his playing. With the Braves move to Atlanta in 1966, however, the Ala­bama native began responding to inevitable questions about playing in the South by denouncing base­ball’s continuing aversion to hiring blacks as managers or general managers. After years of pooh-poohing reassurances that the situation was much better than it had been, he himself demonstrated it wasn’t by attracting death threats for encroaching upon the white man’s record in 1973. As bad as the poisonous scrawls and anonymous telephone calls were the ostensibly intelligent, objective discussions held on radio and television about whether the Ruth record should be broken. The climate was thick enough with hatred for the Atlanta Police Department to assign Aaron a bodyguard. To complicate mat­ters further, he ended the 1973 season with only 713 homers—one shy of Ruth—so police surveillance had to be continued over the winter. With the Braves scheduled to open the 1974 season in Cin­cinnati, Aaron came under additional pressures when Atlanta owner William Bartholomay made it clear he wanted the outfielder benched for the contests at Riverfront Stadium so the Ruth record could be brok­en at home for attendance purposes. This brought a storm of criticism from traditionalists and prompted Commissioner Bowie Kuhn to intervene with an order to have Aaron in the lineup for the opener against the Reds. The slugger responded by tying the record with his 714th home run in his first swing in the first inning, but that was it. Bartholomay got his wish when 53,775 poured into Fulton County Stadium on the cold and miserable night of April 8, 1974 and saw Al Downing of the Dodgers surrender number 715.

Only a few months after surpassing Ruth, Aaron got another lesson in baseball’s race relations when Braves general manager Eddie Robinson ridiculed his candidacy as a successor to the fired Eddie Mathews as manager; Robinson also broke with franchise tradition by giving Clyde King a multiyear contract, just in case Aaron got the idea that he would be a fallback choice in the immediate future. The King appointment effectively ended the outfielder’s ties to the Braves as a player; he agreed to return to Milwaukee, to the American League Brewers, after the season. Clearly on his last legs, he generated mild interest as a gate attraction in 1975 but made it clear prior to the start of the 1976 campaign that it was going to be his last. As it developed, his career as an active player ended sourly. On the final day of the season he singled in his last plate appearance and was then removed by manager Alex Grammas for pinch-runner Jim Gantner. Gantner eventually scored with a run that would have enabled Aaron to break a tie with Ruth for second place in that category behind Cobb. Chagrined by Aaron’s anger at having been lifted for Gantner, Grammas explained he had only wanted to give him one last chance to run off the field to a standing ovation.

After his retirement Aaron served for a number of years as farm director of the Braves. Those who didn’t write him off as merely an emblematic presence altogether were hard put to credit him with the development of several prospects who directly or indirectly led to the revival of the franchise in the 1990s. On several occasions he also gave interviews put­ting his own name forward as a candidate for baseball commissioner; he never received a serious response.

By his own admission Aaron has never been able to separate his satisfaction at retiring as baseball’s greatest home run-hitter from the hatred he and his family endured over the months leading up to the drive off Downing. Not only has he kept the ball that broke the record, but also some 500 letters warning him off belting number 714.

Hank Aaron clubs his 714th career home run on April 4, 1974, in Cincinnati. Photo reprinted courtesy of the Atlanta Braves.


Abrams became the shame of Brooklyn when he was thrown out at the plate in the ninth inning of the final game of the 1950 season with what would have been a run forcing a special playoff between the Dodgers and the Phillies for the pennant. Over the years, the bang-bang play on Rich­ie Ashburn’s throw to home after Duke Sni­der’s single has been alternately attributed to Abrams’s small lead off second and third base coach Milt Stock’s rashness in sending him to home plate. In fact, the outfield­er had little choice trying to score since Pee Wee Reese, the runner behind him, was dash­ing up his back to get to third base.


Adam was honored by the Professional Baseball Athletic Trainers Society after the 2001 season for making his training staff on the Brewers the best in the major leagues. He received the award a few weeks after being fired by Milwaukee for not dealing adequately with the team’s injuries.


Adams had as flashy a rookie year for the Pirates in 1909 as he had a messy end with the same club 17 years later. After a debut season that saw him win 12 games and post an ERA of 1.11, the righthander stunned Detroit in the World Series by throwing three complete-game victories for a Pitts­burgh cham­pionship. Until 1926 he remained a mainstay of the team’s staff, winning 20 games twice. In that final year, however, he became innocently involved in a bitter me-or-him showdown between coach Fred Clarke and out­fielder Max Carey. The nub of the controversy was a Carey-led mutiny against Clarke’s presence on the bench after the coach had compared his effectiveness to that of the team batboy. Although a majority of the team refused to back Carey and another outfielder, Carson Bigbee, in the revolt, and Adams himself voted to keep Clarke on the prem­ises, the coach wouldn’t leave well enough alone, insisting that owner Barney Dreyfuss get rid of all those opposed to him. Mainly because Adams was on record for saying managers should manage and nobody else should interfere, the owner agreed with Clarke that the pitcher had also been part of the uprising. The upshot was that two of the A(dams) B(igbee) C(arey) Mutineers, as the Pittsburgh press branded them, were released, while Carey was sold to the Dodgers. The three players protested to National League president John Heydler, but Heydler, while absolving the trio of insubordination, also upheld an owner’s right to get rid of any player he wanted to. Adams, 44 and near the end of his pitching effectiveness, didn’t attempt to catch on with another team.


Among the candidates for the honorific title of Father of Baseball is Adams, a medical doctor and president of the Knickerbocker club from 1847 until 1862. As the head of the country’s oldest baseball team, he was given the gavel at an 1857 convention of clubs, and in that role established nine innings (rather than 21 runs) as the duration of a game. After that first meeting seeded the National Association of Base Ball Players in 1858, Adams chaired the rules committee, and in his three years in the position set the distance between the bases at 90 feet and from the pitcher’s box to home at 45 feet.

Adams had begun playing an early version of baseball in 1839 for exercise and amusement. He had a hand in making the Knickerbockers balls and bats, and claimed to have been the first to move into the shortstop position—less to improve infield defense than to make it easier to relay the relatively light balls of the day from the outfield.


Writing for New York’s Evening Mail, Adams published one of baseball’s most famous verses in 1910 under the title of Baseball’s Sad Lexicon. The work’s popularity was key to the election of Cubs infielders Joe Tinker, Johnny Evers, and Frank Chance to the Hall of Fame; in fact, not one of the trio ever led the National League in dou­ble plays for his position. Adams’s verse goes:

"There are the saddest of possible words—

Tinker to Evers to Chance.

Trio of bear Cubs and fleeter than birds

Tinker to Evers to Chance.

Thoughtlessly pricking our gonfalon bubble,

Making a Giant hit into a double,

Words that are weighty with nothing but trouble—

Tinker to Evers to Chance."


Although not on a level with Hall of Fame teammates Hank Aaron and Eddie Mathews, Adcock accomplished a number of prodigious slugging feats while playing for the Braves in the 1950s. His 336 career blasts included four in one game against the Dodgers, the first ball ever hit completely over the left field grandstand of Ebbets Field, and the first ball ever hit to the left-center field bleachers of the Polo Grounds (an officially estimated distance of 465 feet). In the July 31, 1954 game in which he hit Brooklyn pitchers for four home runs, he also clouted a double, setting a total bases record.

Adcock, a righthanded first baseman, also hit the non-homer that ended Harvey Haddix’s 12-inning perfect game on May 26, 1959; when he ran past Aaron on the bases in what he later admitted was a daze, the hit was scored a double. As a pinch-hitter in his 17-year career with the Reds, Braves, Indians, and Angels, he established the best career ratio for home runs, hitting a four-bagger every 12.75 times he came off the bench.


An outfielder for Chicago in 1876, Addy is credited with being the first player to slide into a base. He apparently pioneered the technique while playing for the Forest City Club of Rockford, Illinois in the 1860s. A bit of an eccentric, Addy was forever contriving schemes he considered more worthy of his talents than conventional baseball; among them was an effort to popularize ice baseball in a Chicago skating rink he owned.


There have been many great catches made by out­fielders in World Series games, but Agee has been the only one to make two in the same contest. Diving grabs of drives up the alley by Baltimore’s Elrod Hendricks and Paul Blair in the third game of the 1969 World Series saved the Miracle Mets in two crucial situations, helping pave the way to New York’s eventual championship. Although usually slot­ted in the leadoff spot for his speed, Agee also had five straight years of more than 100 strikeouts, including a high of 156 in 1970. Only Bobby Bonds had a worse strikeout ratio among leadoff men.


Long before Deion Sanders was holding up the Braves for contract concessions that would allow him to play professional football, Ainge was lavished with the same rights by the Blue Jays so he could pursue basketball. In 1979 the high school star made it clear he preferred the court to the diamond, but Toronto was so insistent that it drew up a pact practically fitting baseball around the National Bas­ket­­ball Association schedule. After three partial seasons and a .220 batting average, Ainge dumped the major leagues for his first love.


Ainsmith’s 15-year (1910–24) career as a backup catcher for the Senators and several other teams assumed secondary importance in 1918, when he appealed against being drafted into the military during World War I on the grounds that he was engaged in a patriotic endeavor since baseball was the national pastime. The appeal, engendered by Washington’s Clark Griffith, prompted a ruling from Secretary of War New­ton D. Baker that baseball was an inessential amusement, with all its players and personnel subject to the draft. Prior to the Ainsmith case players had been able to appeal their call-ups on a case-by-case basis. Earlier the same year Yankees pitcher Hap­py Finneran had successfully argued that his 10 years of professional baseball had left him unequipped for seeking another job after getting out of the service and that he had to play to maintain his standing. At the heart of both the Ainsmith and Fin­ner­an cases was baseball’s refusal to ask for a spe­cial exemption as an essential public entertainment—as various branches of show business had. The ownership stance of asking the War Department to rule on a player-by-player basis aided Finneran but ultimately worked against Ainsmith and those called up after him.


By being traded from the Tigers to the Red Sox during the 1932 season, Alexander became the first major leaguer to win a batting crown while splitting time between two teams. His overall average of .367 could not have come as a surprise to Detroit, since he had batted .343, .326, and .325 in his earlier seasons with the club and had also driven in more than 130 runs in two of the three years. Pressed to explain the exchange for outfielder Roy Johnson, manager Bucky Harris said that he couldn’t stand watching Alexander’s ineptitude around first base. As it developed, Boston had little to crow about. In 1933 team physician Doc Woods decided to treat an Alex­ander leg injury with an innovative heat lamp treatment during a game but then got so caught up in a home team rally that he forgot about his patient. By the time he got back inside the clubhouse, Alexander had third-degree leg burns that later degenerated into gangrene. That was the end of his career.


There weren’t many things that Alexander didn’t accomplish during his 20-year (1911–30) career—and not many that he wasn’t forced to do afterward because of his physical ailments and his alcoholism. If the righthander had one statistical shortcoming, it was his failure to snatch the 374th victory that would have broken his tie with Christy Mathewson as the National League’s all-time winner.

Alexander’s biggest numbers include: six years of leading the NL in wins, five in ERA, six in complete games, six in strikeouts, seven years in shutouts (including a record-setting 16 in 1916), nine years of at least 20 wins (including three seasons in a row of more than 30, in which he also set the pace in ERA and strikeouts to take the pitching Triple Crown). Between 1915 and 1917 he rolled up 94 victories, while his ERAs between 1915 and 1920 were 1.22, 1.55, 1.83, 1.73, 1.72, and 1.91. Most astonishing, he achieved these numbers while pitching all but three of his seasons in hitter-friendly Baker Bowl and Wrigley Field.

As smooth as his accomplishments often appeared between the lines, Alexander had a full quota of off-the-field demons. Even before joining the Phillies, he had to battle attacks of double vision to win 29 games for a minor league Syracuse team. Toward the end of the 1917 season he made the mistake of informing Philadelphia’s money-grubbing owner William Baker that he was about to be drafted and was promptly sold to the Cubs. An accident while in military uniform rendered him deaf in one ear and prone to epileptic seizures—both conditions strengthening his dependence on the bottle. For a few years Alex­an­der kept all his disabilities at bay, winning two ERA crowns and posting two 20-win seasons for the Cubs, but by 1926 he was reeling off the field more frequently than he was reeling off victories on it. Waived to the Cardinals, he had enough left not only to provide key victories down the stretch for a St. Louis pennant, but also to hurl two complete-game wins in the World Series against the Yan­kees and then make a dramatic relief appearance in the seventh inning of the final game to strike out Tony Lazzeri with the bases loaded.

Alexander staggered through yet another year to compile 21 wins, but from that point on his waning effectiveness and the rising impatience of his employers before his drunkenness were synonymous. Even Baker’s gate-inspired notion of bringing him back to Philadelphia in 1930 went for naught when he was belted around in three starts and six relief ap­pearances. The club finally suspended him for show­ing up once too often under the influence. This last failure became even more poignant when research in the 1950s credited Mathewson with a 373rd win, creating the deadlock neither pitcher knew existed while they were active.

Alexander’s post-major league life wasn’t much better. At one point he grew a beard to join the House of David team; for another period he worked in a Times Square flea circus. None of these details emerged in The Winning Season, a 1952 Hollywood movie with Ronald Reagan portraying the hurler.


Allen was among the more conspicuous players who inhaled the social protest atmosphere of the 1960s–1970s but who exhaled it in ways calculated to have him perceived merely as a reckless egotist. By both accident and design, he exposed a small army of hypocrites and toadies in the baseball establishment.

The righthand-hitting slugger began his 15-year (1963–77) career with Philadelphia, winning Rookie of the Year honors in 1964 for batting .318 with 201 hits, 29 homers, 91 RBIs, 38 doubles, and a league-leading 13 triples and 125 runs. He contributed all that offense while playing third base for the first time in organized ball—an effort that didn’t spare him catcalls from Philadelphia fans for also leading the NL with 41 errors. In 1965 his relations with the home­town fans got even worse when his offensive production dipped somewhat, he paced the National League for the second year in a row in strikeouts, and he began issuing his ever-more-frequent pronouncements on the state of baseball. The atmosphere got particularly heated after an early July game when he and backup outfielder Frank Thom­as traded blows during batting practice over alleged racial remarks, Thomas came off the bench in the ensuing game to hit a key pinch-hit home run, and then returned to the clubhouse to be told he was being released because of his con­flict with the franchise’s young star. Philadelphia fans became so abusive—even throwing garbage at him—that Allen wore his batting helmet in the field.

Over the next few years, he continued as the team’s major run producer and major headline while the Phillies began sinking to the lower depths of the standings. Most of his observations were along the lines of his Baseball is a form of slavery. Once you step out of bounds, that’s it, they’ll do everything possible to destroy your soul. At the same time he developed the habit of skipping exhibition games and missing team planes with feeble excuses. In June 1969 there was a showdown of sorts when manager Bob Skinner fined the slugger for not show­ing up for a game against the Mets. When owner Bob Carpenter first hesitated to collect the money, then rescinded the fine on the grounds that there had only been some kind of misunderstanding, Skinner quit and the fans went even wilder. The reaction became so hostile that Allen requested a trade. When he was accommodated after the season, it was in the deal that helped change the economic structure of the game—the swap with the Cardinals that Curt Flood refused to accept.

Allen played only one season in St. Louis, but that was long enough to show his power (34 home runs) was not compromised even by the distant fenc­es of Busch Stadium. With the Dodgers the following year, he and manager Walter Alston provided season-long proof of how oil did not mix with water. But, in retrospect, even their tense relations were only a warmup for his next three years in a White Sox uniform.

On the field Allen swung his way to American League MVP honors in 1972 by batting .308 while piling up league-leading numbers in homers (37) and RBIs (113). He took the trophy after playing tag with the White Sox right up to spring training, releasing announcements periodically that he was getting tired of being traded and was considering retirement. What ultimately talked him into reporting for his MVP season was the biggest contract ever award­ed to a sports figure in Chicago. When his field perfor­mance attracted more than one million fans through the turnstiles of Comiskey Park for the first time in seven years, he received the biggest pact in the major leagues, while general manager Stu Holcomb and manager Chuck Tanner told anyone who would listen that the slugger was the franchise player. That didn’t sit too well with righthander Stan Bahnsen, who had been offered only a modest raise after winning 21 games, and several other White Sox play-ers who saw their salaries slashed. To make matters worse, Tanner and Holcomb went out of their way during 1973 spring training to keep a roster spot open for Allen’s brother Hank, an out­field­er of no particular talent. Hank Allen lasted only a hand­ful of at bats into the season, but any relief in the club­house over that development dissipated in June when the franchise player, with 16 home runs already in the record books, fractured his fibula in a collision at first base and was sidelined for the rest of the year.

Allen’s third and final year with Chicago was the most eventful of all. Although he came back in perfect health and began bashing the ball from Opening Day, he evinced gradually decreasing interest in the club’s .500 fortunes as the season wore on. Whenever his hitting put the White Sox ahead in a game, however marginally, he persuaded the cooperative Tanner to yank him for the last couple of innings to he could avoid having to talk to sportswriters after the contest. Then, in early September, he called a club meeting and announced his retirement, effective immediately. Tanner’s reply was to say only that Allen was the greatest player I ever saw. He kept to that reaction even after the season, when the slugger said he had had another change of heart and would return the following year. The Chicago front office thought otherwise, trading him to the Braves for $5,000 and second-string catcher Jim Essian. Obscured during all the late-season melodramatics was that even after walking away from the White Sox with three weeks to go, he ended up as the AL home-run king for the second time.

Informed that he had been dealt to Atlanta, Allen announced that he would never play for a team in the South, forcing the Braves to trade him back to his original home in Philadelphia. With the Phillies the second time he contributed enough clutch performances from part-time first-base duty to help the team to an Eastern Division win in 1976. But he boycotted the clubhouse celebrations for the clinching in protest against manager Danny Ozark’s decision to leave veteran second baseman Tony Taylor off the postseason roster. Although Mike Schmidt and other players also remonstrated against Taylor’s exclusion, it was Allen who paid for it by being released shortly after making his only appearance in postseason play. He ended his career as a platoon first baseman with Oakland in 1977.

Allen, who lost much of his baseball earnings on breeding and betting on horses, provided one of the more memorable quotes on artificial turf when he once declared: If horses can’t eat it, I don’t want to play on it. He also earned a baseball footnote on April 12, 1965 by hitting the first indoor home run in a regular-season game, his two-run blast defeating Houston in the newly opened Astrodome.


Allen was a model rabbit ears whose transparent sensitivity to heckling underminded his mound effectiveness. It didn’t help that he fueled his temper with liberal doses of alcohol. After one loss with the Indians in the 1930s, the righthander trashed a hotel lobby before dousing the desk clerk with the contents of a fire extinguisher; he responded to another defeat by thrashing his third baseman for having made a decisive error. Incidents of the kind were a mere prelude, however, to a game against Boston on June 7, 1938, when Allen stalked from the hill to the dugout rather than obey plate umpire Bill McGowan’s order that he cut off the sleeve of his tattered uniform. While the fans in Fenway Park grew ugly, he sat stubbornly on the bench ignoring pleas from pilot Ossie Vitt and his teammates to snip off the offending sleeve before the game was forfeited to Bos­ton. Finally, Vitt fined him $250 for leaving the mound without permission and told him he was out of the game. Allen promptly told Vitt to go to hell and announced his retirement. A couple of days later Cleveland owner Alva Brad­ley made the gesture of buying the controversial uniform from Allen for the $250 levied by Vitt and had it put on display in the department store he owned in Ohio. Although the owner’s move calmed Allen temporarily, it also underlined the chaotic relations between Vitt and his employers; the latter situation would degenerate a few years later into the revolt of the so-called Crybaby Indians.


As the historian of the Baseball Hall of Fame in the 1960s, Allen indefatigably pursued old ballplayers, tracking down the whereabouts of the living and uncovering the ultimate fates of the deceased in small towns across the country. A one-time Cincinnati sportswriter and then a pub­lic relations director for the Reds, he also wrote some highly regarded baseball histories.


The Voice of the Yankees, Allen parlayed a relaxed Ala­bama drawl and an unabashed rooting interest into a popularity rivaling that of the New York players whose on-field activities he described on radio and television between 1938 and 1964. While his orotund style irritated almost as many people as his homer approach, to Yankees fans he was an indispensable link connecting several successive Bronx dy­nasties. As a result, his signature lines—introducing broad­casts with Hi there, everybody; following the flight of Ballantine Blasts with Going . . . going . . . gone; and punctuating everything but the most mundane field incidents with How about that!—became part of the New York vernacular. In addition, the sobriquets he popularized for almost every Yankees regular—from Old Reliable for Tom­my Henrich, to the clunky Commerce Com­et for Mick­ey Mantle—were efforts to impart some of his personal flair to a team that seemed to many a pennant machine. (Conversely, Red Barber was for much of the same period lending his sober approach to the often less than sober rival Dodgers.)

Allen’s one-man-show approach annoyed several partners, including Jim Woods and Curt Gowdy, shortening their careers in the Yankee Stadium booth. He also showed hostility toward sharing play-by-play with what he considered unqualified former players (e.g., Joe Garagiola, Phil Rizzuto), and this won him no popularity contests in the Yankees front office. Allen’s absence from the booth during the 1964 World Series and his subsequent dismissal in December have been attributed variously to sponsor Ballantine’s irritation at a perceived aloofness, the Yankees front office’s desire to project a new image, and the annoyance on both their parts at Allen’s undisguised on-the-air consumption of the product he hyped and after-hours taste for harder stuff. Coming on the heels of the firing of Yogi Ber­ra as Yankees manager, the dismissal was a public relations disaster, and accelerated the mid-century end of the Yankees dynasty.

In 1978 Allen and one-time partner Barber were the first recipients of the Ford C. Frick award and a place in the broadcasters’ corner of the Hall of Fame.


When Allyn bought the White Sox in 1961, it marked the end of the Comiskey family’s involvement in the franchise. And nobody was more surprised than the Comiskey heirs.

Head of the Artnell conglomerate of oil and cloth­ing companies, Allyn purchased the majority interest in the franchise held by his father, Arthur Allyn, Sr.; Bill Veeck; and Hank Greenberg. But the acquisition did not deter Chuck Comiskey from selling his 46 percent interest in the team to Chicago insurance executive William Bartholomay as part of a grand scheme in which Bartholomay would also buy out Allyn to assume total control and give the organi­zation presidency back to the family that had been running the White Sox since the founding of the American League in 1901. Unfortunately for Comis­key, Allyn rejected the Bar­thol­omay offer; moreover, aware that their 46 percent would make for only a loud but ineffective minority, Bartholomay and his associates then sold their holdings to Allyn.

Allyn wasn’t so fortunate in actually running the franchise for most of the 1960s. Although the club played .500 ball more often than not during the decade, it was a dull squad that attracted fewer and fewer spectators every year. The low point was reached on Opening Day in 1968, when a mere 7,756 fans showed up in the immediate wake of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. Claiming that the black neighborhood around Comiskey Park was discouraging white fans, Allyn kept badgering the city for the construction of a new downtown stadium. When his appeals continued to fall on deaf ears, he announced that the White Sox had agreed to play 10 home games in 1968 in Milwaukee’s County Stadium—ostensibly to give the AL an incentive for including Milwaukee in its planned 1969 expansion but mainly to find ammunition if he sought to sell the team to a Wisconsin group. The games in Milwaukee accounted for a third of Chicago’s home attendance in 1968, spurring Wisconsin lobbyists head­ed by Bud Selig into making an outright $13 million offer for the club. In the meantime, Texas millionaire Lamar Hunt made another approach with a similar offer and with the declared intention of moving the franchise to Dallas. But before Allyn could decide between the tenders, the league told him it would never approve any transfer out of the Chicago market. He finally opted to sell 50 percent of his Artnell stock to his younger brother John and retire to Florida.


Allyn took over the White Sox from his brother Arthur in 1970 just in time to preside over the worst team (106 losses) in organization history. Things improved only minimally after that.

On the plus side Allyn brought in Northwestern University athletic director Stu Holcomb to head baseball operations, Harry Caray as the team announcer, and Dick Allen as the most highly paid player to wear a uniform up to that time; on the minus side he brought in Holcomb, Caray, and Allen. Within a couple of years the owner was having to mediate ongoing intrigues among Holcomb, personnel director Rollie Hemond, and manager Chuck Tanner, finally getting rid of Holcomb and Hemond. As for Caray, his initial popularity and role in bringing fans back to Comiskey Park was soon counterbalanced by repeated snipes at the team and individual players, leading Allyn to accuse him of discouraging atendance. Meanwhile, Allen was alternately winning league honors and taking off when the mood hit him.

By the middle of the decade Allyn was pleading poverty before both the Internal Revenue Service and his brother Arthur, who had to go to court to claim $500,000 that he still had coming from selling the franchise. The situation grew so critical that catcher Ed Herrmann was sold to the Yankees because Chicago couldn’t pay him his salary and out­fielder Buddy Bradford was dealt to the Cardinals to meet the payroll. When Allyn went to the AL for help, he was greeted with an elaborate plan that would have forced him to sell the franchise to a Seattle group that included comedian Danny Kaye and that would have left Chicago open for one of Charlie Finley’s periodically broached invasions, this time from Oakland. Allyn said no, deciding instead to close a 15-year circle by selling the club back to Bill Veeck, from whom his brother Arthur had originally bought the White Sox in 1961. Allyn retained a 25 percent interest in the second Veeck ownership.


Offensively and defensively, in speed and in spittle, Alo­mar was the second baseman of the 1990s. A career .300 batter with enough power to be slotted third in lineups, he also topped 30 stolen bases seven times and monopolized Gold Glove awards for his position in successive stints for the Blue Jays, Orioles, and Indians. His ability to star for three different franchises epitomized the era of the high-priced free agent.

Alomar’s diamond feats were overshadowed for some time by a September 27, 1996 field argument that culminated in the infielder’s spitting in the face of umpire John Hirschbeck. The ugly confrontation, uncharacteristic of the normally mild-mannered Alo­mar, triggered a near-crisis in relations among Major League Baseball, the players union, and the umpires union over the appropriate punishment for the assault. Alomar was eventually suspended for five games at the start of the 1997 season—a slap on the wrist that incensed umpires and helped fuel subsequent frictions with the commissioner’s office. Although fans around the country booed Alomar for years after the episode, they never hesitated to give him enough votes as the AL’s starting second baseman for annual All-Star Games.

Originally with the Padres, Alomar was dealt to the Blue Jays with Joe Carter for Fred McGriff and Tony Fernandez in 1990. During the 2001 winter meetings the suddenly cost-conscious Indians traded him back to the National League in an eight-player swap with the Mets.


The oldest of the three Alou brothers, Felipe had the most power, topping the 20-homer and 30-double marks four times each. With the Braves in 1966, he led the National League in both hits and runs scored; two years later he once again led NL batters in safeties. His 17-year (1958–74) career, which began with the Giants, ended with three plate appearances in 1974 with the Brewers—enabling him to join Hank Aaron and Phil Roof as the only players to appear for both of Milwaukee’s big league franchises in the second half of the 20th century. While with San Francisco on September 10, 1963, Alou and his brothers Matty and Jesus wrote a footnote to baseball history by making all three outs in an inning, against the Mets. Five days later they appeared together in the only all-sibling outfield. Alou managed the Expos from 1992 to 2001, keeping the club respectable and even better while the front office dealt away one star after another. Among those he managed in Montreal were his son Moises and nephew Mel Rojas.

Matty, the middle brother, won a National League batting crown in 1966 with a .342 average while a member of the Pirates after batting .231 the year before. The lefty-hitting outfielder attributed the difference to batting coach Har­ry Walker’s insistence he choke up on the bat. Alou kept the lesson in mind for the rest of his career, reaching the .330 mark in three additional years and averaging .307 for 15 big league seasons. The 111-point improvement to the batting title is the biggest by a regular from one season to the next.

Jesus, the youngest of the Alous, lacked Felipe’s extra-base punch and Matty’s consistency but still managed to hit .280 over 15 seasons with four clubs. His most mem­or­able game came on July 10, 1964, when, as a member of the Giants, he collected six hits off an equal number of Chi­cago pitchers. When the righty-hitting outfielder picked up his 1,000th hit, it not only made the Alous the only trium­virate of brothers to reach that mark but also assured them of first place in combined career hits for three or more siblings. Against the Alous’ 5,094 safeties, for instance, the three DiMaggios managed only 4,853 and the five Delahantys a mere 4,217.

WALTER ALSTON (Hall of Fame, 1983)

Working off 23 one-year managerial contracts between 1954 and 1976, Alston was an integral part of the Dodgers gradual shift in identity from Brooklyn’s blue-collar franchise that seemed to generate its glories and crises spontaneously to the buttoned-down-collar Los Angeles organization that seemed to have a wired-up producer behind even its most volatile events. His image as a loyal, quiet, but intestinally strong tactician worked as a tempering in­flu­ence both on those who wanted to believe that the Dodgers would always be the Dodgers whether on the East Coast or West Coast and those who were only too quick to accuse the franchise of going Hollywood.

Not that Alston always appreciated his role. From the day his appointment was announced in Brooklyn, and greeted by headlines of WALTER WHO?, to his final campaign in California, when he acted baffled by innovations like free agency, he was seldom allowed to forget he wasn’t the most exciting figure to grace a dugout. Team owner Wal­ter O’Malley, for instance, made a habit of flanking him with such coaches as Leo Durocher, Charlie Dressen, and Bobby Bragan for creative tension. With Durocher, at least, the tension became a little too creative in the mid-1960s, prompting Alston to ream his coach on the bench in front of the team for second-guessing him. A typical O’Mal­ley solution was to fire Durocher but also to bounce Alston’s righthand man Joe Beck­er as a warning that a one-year contract was still a one-year contract. During Alston’s tenure the Dodgers won seven pennants and three World Series (including the only one won by Brooklyn, in 1955).


More noted as one of baseball’s first professional clowns, Altrock had two 20-win seasons for the early-century White Sox. The southpaw posted 23 victories and an ERA of 1.88 in 1905, then came back the following year to help Chicago to a pennant with 20 more wins. Although his arm went the following year, he had a friendship with Clark Griffith to thank for being picked up by the Senators in 1909. Altrock set a dubious record of sorts by appearing on the Wash­ing­ton roster 10 times between 1912 and 1933, never once in that time getting into more than five games and usually listed only so he could make the questionable claim of being a five-decade player. His main value to the Senators, usually in partnership with Al Schacht, was in a panto­mime act before games and between ends of doubleheaders. The original Sunshine Boys, Altrock and Schacht got into an argument early in their careers and went through their routine for years without talking to one another on or off the field.


Left fielder Amoros’s startling one-handed catch of an opposite-field drive by Yogi Berra in the seventh game of the 1955 World Series squashed a late-inning rally by the Yankees and helped ensure the only world championship won by the Brooklyn Dodgers. Amoros made the grab after being put into the game for defensive purposes. Following his retirement, the Cuban outfielder became a symbol of the impoverished state many former major leaguers were reduced to because of inadequate pension and medical plans. His plight helped energize players in better fi­nan­cial circumstances to organize the Baseball Assistance Team.


Anderson created the biggest power anomaly since the 19th century when he belted 50 home runs for the Orioles in 1996. In a 14-year career that began in 1988 he has otherwise never hit more than 24, topping even 20 only on two other occasions. Twelve of the blasts led off games—a big league record. The lefthand-hitting outfielder also stole 53 bases for Baltimore in 1992, making him the only Amer­ican Leaguer to attain the half-century mark in a season for the two categories.


Anderson was the composer of Tessie, a Broad­way tune from the 1903 musical The Silver Slipper that became the unofficial anthem of Boston baseball fans in both the American and National leagues. Both Braves and Red Sox rooters chorused it during successful World Series triumphs between 1903 and 1918, then stopped. Since neither Boston franchise won another title after that, the Tessie Curse has explained a great deal of life to Massachusetts fans not in thrall to stories about the Curse of the Bambino.

SPARKY ANDERSON (Hall of Fame, 2000)

The only manager to win world championships for teams in both leagues, Anderson was never quite convincing as either the latter-day Casey Stengel or the successful Gene Mauch that media pundits alter­nately represented him as over the years. While he was not always at ease with the English language and was occasionally given to elaborate chess games with opposing pilots, his 25 years of steering Cincinnati and Detroit were more conspicuous for his Dodger-trained belief that Opening Day rosters should be changed as little as possible and for his view of start­ers as relievers who just happened to be on the mound at the beginning of games.

One of a handful of major leaguers who played regularly for one season (with the 1959 Phillies) but never appeared in a single game before or afterward, Anderson called the shots for the Big Red Machine between 1970 and 1978, winning five division titles, four pennants, and two World Series. Most of his field decisions with the heavy-hitting team involved knowing when to go to the bullpen because of so-so starters; his frequent trips to the hill earned him the sobriquet of Captain Hook. For the most part he remained aloof from his star players’ recurrent salary battles, generally winning their loyalty by consulting a circle of club­house veterans (Joe Morgan, John­ny Bench, Tony Perez, and Pete Rose) whenever some issue threatened club cohesion. If he had one notable failure in team relations, it was his inability to prevent the disastrous trade of Perez to the Expos following the 1976 season. When he himself was cut loose from the club after the 1978 season by newly installed general manager Dick Wagner, even the mayor of Cincinnati joined the outcry by charging that the Reds front office had gone bananas. At the time Anderson’s winning percentage of .596 was second only to Joe McCarthy’s.

Moving over to the Tigers during the 1979 season, Anderson found another club without deep pitching and accustomed to banging its way to victory. For his first decade at the helm, he kept the team above .500, winning a world championship in 1984 and an Eastern Division title in 1987; that gave him a record (later tied by Bobby Cox) for winning the most pennant playoff series (five). He fre­quent­ly pointed to the 1987 win as his most satisfying achieve­ment in baseball because of the aging and modest talents on the team. With such stars as Kirk Gibson and Lance Parrish leaving as free agents, however, the Tigers soon disintegrated, exhausting Anderson in the pro­cess. In 1989 he suffered a breakdown caused as much by family problems as by the strain of managing a team that would lose 103 games. Sent home for three weeks, he returned with a relatively casual attitude, rarely missing an opportunity to tell interviewers he could no longer manage 25 hours a day. With the added incentive of owning a small interest in the team, he hung on until 1995 before retiring for good.

In the name of boosting the self-confidence of pros­pects, Anderson was embarrassed more than once by spring training evaluations of rookies (e.g., Chris Pittaro, Rico Brog­na, Torey Lovullo, and Ricky Peters) as sure bets for the Hall of Fame. He stubbed his toe again in unloading How­ard Johnson on the Mets in 1984 behind the view that the third base­man couldn’t hit and didn’t have the fortitude to last as a major leaguer. His penchant for extravagant assertions probably reached its low point following the 1976 World Series, when he called the Reds the greatest team in the history of the National League, mocking suggestions that Yankees catch­er Thurman Munson could be compared to Bench.

Sparky Anderson is the only manager to win world championships for teams in both the American and National leagues. Photo reprinted courtesy of the Cincinnati Reds.


A second baseman for Oakland in the 1973 World Series, Andrews made two 12th-inning errors that enabled the Mets to win the second game. When owner Charlie Finley attempted to have him declared physically unfit for the rest of the Series and to replace him with Manny Trillo, Athletics manager Dick Williams announced that, win or lose, he intended quitting as soon as the season was over. Even though Commissioner Bowie Kuhn turned thumbs down to Finley’s ploy, the Oakland players showed their resentment of the owner by having the infielder’s number sewn on their uniforms for the rest of the Series.


Andujar saw vague conspiracies against him ev­erywhere, but the one time he pointed a finger produced one of the nastiest incidents in postseason play. A journeyman for most of his 13-year (1976–88) career, the righthander turned into a 20-game winner in 1984 and 1985 after Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog started pitching him on three days rest; tiring toward the end of the latter season, he was ineffective in the League Championship Series against the Dodgers and was reduced to mopping up in the final Series game, with the Royals holding a commanding lead. Walking the first batter he faced and yielding a hit to the next, the Dominican decided to blame his—and the Cardinals—fate on home plate umpire Don Denkinger for a blown call that had given Kansas City a win the previous day. Den­kinger tossed both the pitcher and Herzog but not before the former threw a tantrum on the mound. Herzog later blasted Andujar, and was quick to deal him to the Athletics in the offseason.


A Baltimore attorney who specialized in defending labor unions and pursuing workers disability claims, Angelos headed the consortium that purchased the Orioles in 1993 for $173 million. His high-profile partners included novelist Tom Clancy, movie director Barry Levinson, sports­caster Jim Mc­Kay, and tennis player Pam Shriver. Described by some as a second Steinbrenner and by others as the second coming of Charlie Finley, Angelos refused to sign the September 1994 owners’ declaration that formally ended the season after the players strike. According to the longtime defender of workers rights, the document’s charges that the players had not bargained seriously were counterproductive. On the other hand, he has also come under fire for lis­tening too much in formulating Orioles policy to his young sons John and Lou, whose only previous connection with baseball was as managers of a rotisserie league team. The influence of the Angelos offspring prompt­ed the departure of such veteran baseball ball men as Davey Johnson, Frank Robinson, Rollie Hemond, and Doug Melvin in the 1990s, while the owner himself seemed to identify experience only with the out-of-touch Syd Thrift, usually to be seen nodding to Angelos during Baltimore games. After years as a power in the American League East, the precipitously aging Orioles became a distant also-ran at the turn of the millennium.

CAP ANSON (Hall of Fame, 1939)

Anson was to 19th-century field managers what Al Spald­ing was to club owners of the same era: coldly effi­cient, militarily strict, and highly successful. The fates of the pair were intertwined for the first decade-and-a-half of the National League’s existence; only when the pitcher-turned-magnate withdrew from active involvement in the affairs of the Chicago club after the 1891 season, in fact, did the first baseman-manager’s fortunes begin to decline.

Anson’s jump from the National Association Phil­adelphia Athletics to Chicago paralleled Spalding’s from the Bos­ton Red Stockings in the events leading up to the found­ing of the National League in 1876. A righthanded batter, he won four batting champion­ships, was the first major leaguer to record 3,000 hits (in comparatively short seasons), and finished with a lifetime average of .333. Anson was also durable, serving as a regular for all 22 of his National League seasons (in addition to five in the NA). He is the oldest major leaguer to hit a grand slam, knocking in four runs with one clout in July 1894 at age 42, and the second-oldest—at age 45—to hit a home run at all, connecting for two on October 3, 1897, the last day of his career.

After succeeding Spalding as manager in 1879, Anson won five pennants, compiled a .636 won-lost percentage during the 1880s, and was among the first to use more than one pitcher, employ the hit-and-run, and formalize spring training routines. A ferocious disciplinarian, he barred even Spalding from the clubhouse when he thought it necessary, and enforced his rules with fists. A temperance enthusiast, he administered a no-drinking pledge to the entire team in the owner’s office in 1886. He also knew a little about pro­motion, often dressing his players in outfits ranging from Native American garb to formal wear and parading them through the streets of National League cities in open carriages to irritate local fans and stimulate them to buy tickets. The extent of the public’s identification of Anson with the franchise was measurable by its nickname changes—from the traditional White Stockings to Colts, when he launched a youth movement in 1886, then to Orphans after he left the team in 1897.

Anson’s troubles with the team trace to the arrival of James Hart as president in 1892. He disliked Hart so much that he had refused to contribute toward the purchase of diamond cuff links Spalding had given the then-travel secretary for handling arrangements on an international goodwill tour after the 1888 season. It didn’t help that the team had twice as many losing seasons as winning ones after Hart took over from Spalding. Fired after the 1897 season, Anson indignantly refused Hart’s offer to hold a benefit game for him. Out of organized baseball after a three-week stint as Giants manager in 1898, he dabbled in the formation of abortive new leagues (the New American Association, of which he was briefly president in 1900, and the Unit­ed States League in 1914); politics (he was elected city