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Historic Tiger Baseball #21--Rudy York

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Today's Featured Tiger Player

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--Rudy York--

(1934-1945)

(click on name for statistics)

From the New Georgia Encyclopedia

Rudy York played major league baseball from 1937 to 1948 (with a brief appearance in late 1934). A seven-time all-star, York spent his most successful years as a first baseman with the Detroit Tigers. His most significant achievement came while he was a rookie catcher in August 1937, when he broke Babe Ruth's record for the most home runs in a single month. Also, from 1937 to 1947, no one in the American League hit more home runs or had more RBIs than York.

Early Career

Preston Rudolph York was born on August 17, 1913, in Ragland, Alabama. His family moved to northwest Georgia when he was very young, settling in Atco, a mill town on the outskirts of Cartersville.

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Rudy York (left) sits with teammate Roy Henderson in

1930, when the two played together on the company

team for the textile mill in Atco, Georgia.

After a brief stint with the Southern Association's Knoxville Smokies, during which he saw little action, York was signed by the Detroit Tigers in 1933 at age nineteen. He advanced steadily through the Tigers' minor league system, playing for teams in Shreveport, Louisiana (Class C Dixie League), as well as in Beaumont and Fort Worth, Texas (both Class A Texas League). York's limited fielding abilities resulted in a number of position shifts during his time in the minor leagues. After playing second base, third base, catcher, left field, and right field, he finally settled in at first base while playing in 1935 for Beaumont, where he was named the league's Most Valuable Player (MVP). He won his second consecutive MVP award while playing first base in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with the Class AA American Association in 1936. (At that time, Class AA was the highest minor league classification.)

Major League Career

York made a brief appearance with the Tigers late in the 1934 season, getting just one hit in six at-bats. He didn't return to the major league until 1937. He began that season as the Tigers' third baseman, although after a slow start he was replaced by the veteran Marv Owen in early May. Optioned to AA Toledo, Ohio, in early June, York was immediately recalled when Owen suffered a broken hand. Although York's hitting picked up in July, he was benched upon Owen's return to the lineup later that month. Struggling to stay in the pennant race, the Tigers could not overlook York's lack of fielding prowess at the "hot corner."

Mickey Cochrane, the Tigers' manager and everyday catcher, suffered a career-ending injury on May 25 in New York City, and on August 4 York replaced Birdie Tebbetts behind the plate. That month, York broke Babe Ruth's major league record for most home runs in a single month. York's record of 18 home runs would last until 1998, when Chicago Cubs player Sammy Sosa achieved 20 during the month of June. York finished his rookie year with 35 home runs, 103 runs batted in (RBIs), and a .307 batting average.

Most of York's playing time in 1938 and 1939 was spent as catcher, but his poor fielding skills necessitated a position change in order to keep him in the batting lineup. In 1940 the Tigers convinced future National Baseball Hall of Fame inductee Hank Greenberg to move to left field so that York could become the full-time first baseman. York responded with 33 home runs, 134 RBIs, and a .316 batting average, helping the Tigers reach the World Series. York hit just .231 with one home run in the series, which the Tigers lost to the Cincinnati Reds.

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York, one of the few major league stars not drafted into military service during World War II (1941-45), played first base for the Tigers through the 1945 season. His best season was 1943, when he led the league in home runs (34), RBIs (118), slugging percentage (.527), and total bases (301). He finished third in the 1943 MVP voting.

The Tigers won the 1945 American League pennant and the World Series, although York hit just .179 in the series. Traded to the Boston Red Sox prior to the 1946 season, he drove in 119 runs for his new team despite hitting just 17 home runs. His single best day in the majors came on July 27, 1946, when he hit two grand-slam home runs and drove in ten runs against the St. Louis Browns. The Red Sox won the American League pennant, and York won the first game of the World Series with a tenth-inning home run. He hit another home run in the third game, but the Red Sox dropped the series to the Cardinals.

York was traded to the Chicago White Sox in June 1947. For the season, he hit just .233 with 21 home runs and 91 RBIs. Released at the end of the season, he signed with the Philadelphia Athletics for the 1948 season but hit just .157 with no home runs in 51 at-bats. At the age of 35, his major league playing career was over. York had a reputation for enjoying the big-league lifestyle, sometimes to excess, and most observers—including York—believed those excesses shortened his career by several years. York ended his professional playing career as one of the top sluggers of his time, finishing with 277 home runs, 1,152 RBIs, and a .275 batting average.

Later Career

Immediately after his major league playing days were over, York served as a player-manager for several minor league teams. Although he left baseball for a time in the mid-1950s to live and work as a firefighter in Cartersville, Georgia he was not yet finished with the sport.

After working briefly as a scout for the Yankees, he joined the Memphis Chicks as a coach and later rejoined the Red Sox as a coach in 1959.

After his dismissal by the Red Sox following the 1962 season, York moved back to Cartersville, where he spent the rest of his life. For most of that time, he was a self-employed house painter. York died of lung cancer on February 5, 1970, in Rome and was inducted into the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame in 1977.

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Thanks.

So why was York not drafted in WWII? What was his classification?

Looking for the answers, I ran across this info on Tigers during WWII:

http://www.michiganhistorymagazine.com/extra/sports/tigers.html

It's a little long, but interesting.

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This article first appeared in the September/October 1995 issue of Michigan History.

by William M. Anderson

photos William M. Anderson

Fifty years ago this fall, the Detroit Tigers captured the American League pennant and won the World Series for the second time in franchise history. Their championships were sparked by the return of slugger Hank Greenberg from the U.S. Army and the stellar performance of physically deferred pitcher Hal Newhouser. The manpower needs of World War II heavily impacted professional baseball, and the success of the Detroit Tigers in 1945, personified by the presence of Greenberg and Newhouser, illustrates how the war affected the fortunes of every team in major league baseball.

Hank Greenberg, the American League's most valuable player in 1940, was the first bigHank Greenberg (center) was the first big star drafted into military service in 1941. star drafted into military service in 1941. Playing his last game on 6 May 1941, Greenberg left the Tigers in dramatic fashion, crushing two home runs and leading his team to a 7-4 victory over the New York Yankees. He reported for duty at the induction center at Fort Custer in Battle Creek the following day and began his new job as an army private, trading his fifty-five-thousand-dollar salary for his new wage of twenty-one dollars a month. Big Hank was thirty years old and the draft law provided that those over twenty-eight were eligible for discharge after serving 180 days. Greenberg left the military on 5 December 1941, just two days before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Anticipating an inevitable recall, Greenberg voluntarily reentered the armed services, eventually joining the U.S. Army Air Corps and earning the rank of captain.

Born in Detroit, Harold "Hal" Newhouser grew up in a blue-collar neighborhood, the son of an autoworker. Developing his baseball skills on the sandlots of the Motor City, Newhouser was signed by the Tigers at the age of seventeen. Although married in 1942, the twenty-one-year-old Newhouser was a prime candidate for induction into the military. He opted to volunteer instead of waiting for draft notifications. "I enlisted in the Army Air Corps because I wanted to fly," he recalled. A heart problem, however, discovered during his physical exam, resulted in a 4-F deferment, which allowed Newhouser to stay on the Tiger roster.

Just as there was great apprehension regarding the role the United States would play in the war, baseball too faced an uncertain future. National conscription compelled all eligible males to register, including professional baseball players. Baseball owners discreetly launched a public-relations campaign to build good will and emphasize the morale-building value of the game. Searching for a national policy statement, baseball commissioner Kennesaw Mountain Landis wrote Franklin D. Roosevelt in January 1942. The president responded:

I honestly feel that it would be best for the country to keep baseball going. There will be fewer people unemployed and everybody will work longer hours and harder than ever before.

And that means that they ought to have a chance for recreation and for taking their minds off their work even more than before.

Baseball provides a recreation which does not last over two hours or two hours and a half, and which can be got for very little cost….

As to the players themselves, I know you agree with me that individual players who are of active military or naval age should go, without question, into the service. Even if the actual quality of the teams is lowered by the greater use of older players, this will not dampen the popularity of the sport.

Professional baseball received the president's blessing to operate during the war, but the war's impact on the sport was enormous. It was best illustrated by players who joined the big leagues who, under normal circumstances, were either too young, too old, or possessed physical limitations. Joe Nuxall pitched in a game for Cincinnati when just fifteen years old. Among the so-called graybeards, forty-seven-year-old Hod Lisenbee pitched in thirty-one games for Cincinnati in 1945, after a nine-year absence from the game. Although extreme, one-armed St. Louis Brown outfielder Pete Gray is the classic example of the physically infirmed who played in the majors during the war.

The Tigers began the 1940s by winning their third American League pennant in seven years. There was not dynasty building in Detroit, however, for the war began stripping away front-line players, allowing the New York Yankees to take charge of the league. In 1941 the Tigers, minus Greenberg, suffered through their first losing season in seven years, and finished tied for fourth, twenty-six games behind the winners. Outfielder Barney McCosky led the hitters with a .325 batting average and Al Benton won fifteen games to lead an otherwise mediocre pitching staff.

Dick WakefieldThe Tigers were changing. The Bengals signed University of Michigan star Dick Wakefield for a fifty-two-thousand-dollar bonus and would soon lose star second baseman Charlie Gehringer to retirement. After the season, two promising Tiger rookies, Pat Mullin and Fred Hutchinson, joined Greenberg in the armed services. Mullin had hit an impressive .345 in fifty-four games during the 1941 season; Hutchinson became a mainstay in the Tiger pitching rotation after the war. Both, however, were lost to the Tigers for the duration of the war.

In 1942 the slide continued as Detroit, which ended the season at 73-81, fell farther behind the dominant Yankees, finishing fifth, thirty games off the leader. Once again McCosky compiled a team-leading batting average and young Virgil Trucks posted fourteen victories—the team's best.

As American involvement in the war intensified, all of baseball scrambled for players. Needing a catcher, Detroit signed Paul Richards in September 1942. Richards, then a catcher-manager with Atlanta's minor league team, had not played major league baseball since 1935. Despite a long absence from major-league baseball, he was ready. In his letter of acceptance, Richards assured the Tigers he was "in the very best condition that farm life which includes milking four cows a day and a 6 AM to 9 PM day can get anybody."

The war imposed new restrictions on all Americans and baseball was particularly affected. A November 1942 law had reduced the eligible age for draftees to eighteen. In January 1943Dizzy Trout posing as a groundskeeper at practice Commissioner Landis announced that spring training would be held at northern sites as a wartime fuel-conservation measure. The Tigers were based in Evansville, Indiana, for their preseason workouts. Evansville served as the Tigers' spring-training home throughout the rest of the war years. Newhouser recalled how he and fellow pitcher Dizzy Trout improvised in traveling to spring training. "When Dizzy Trout and I were making the trip to spring training in Evansville and due to gas rationing, we would load up our families and using a chain, I would tow his car. Then when we needed to gas up, we would stop at a station and reverse the cars and Dizzy would pull my wife and I in our car."

The war took an even bigger bite out of the Tigers in 1943 as the team lost starting pitcher Al Benton and hitting star Barney McCosky to the U.S. Navy. First-string catcher and 1942 All-Star George "Birdie" Tebbetts enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps, as did promising rookie outfielder Walter "Hoot" Evers and infielder Billy Hitchcock. Another future star, Vic Wertz, also headed to the army.

The Bengals received new field leadership in 1943, when Tiger coach and former Cleveland manager Steve O'Neil became the team's manager. Though finishing the 1943 season fifth in the standings, the Tigers were two games above .500. Wakefield delivered on the investment, collecting two hundred hits on his way to a .312 batting average, second best in the American League. Rudy York became the league's premier slugger and Trout posted a twenty-victory season.

Emery HreskoChanges in the conscription law, however, cut further into the pool of available players and teams became increasingly creative in finding athletes who were exempt from the draft. Detroit brought seventeen-year-old schoolboy Emery Hresko and Ralph Siewert, who stood a towering six feet, eleven inches, along to spring training in 1944. Neither of the young pitchers made the big club, though Hresko went north with Detroit before being sent to Buffalo in the International League. Soon after his eighteenth birthday, Hresko was summoned to the navy and stationed at the Great Lakes Naval Station.

Winners of three consecutive pennants, the New York Yankees were particularly crippled by the loss of mainline players to the military, Yankee misfortune, however, led to a more competitive pennant race. The St. Louis Browns got off to a record-setting start, winning their first nine games. The Tigers, on the other hand, were slow out of the gate and, by the All-Star game, floundered near the cellar. Tiger fortunes improved in the second half with the return of Wakefield and the amazing pitching duo of Newhouser and Trout. Released by the navy, which had a surplus of cadet pilots, Wakefield rejoined the team in July and led the offense with a .355 mark in seventy-eight games. Newhouser and Trout, who often relieved each other, won fifty-six games. Newhouser was selected the league's most valuable player; Trout and Wakefield finished second and sixth.

The 1944 pennant race went down to the final series with the Tigers leading by one game. In that dramatic showdown, the Browns faced the Yankees, while Detroit seemed more favorably positioned as they played the also-ran Washington Senators. But the Browns were up to the challenge, sweeping all four games with New York, while the Tigers split with the Senators. St. Louis captured their only pennant in history by a margin of one game.

For both the 1944 and 1945 seasons the Tigers experienced significant lineup changes. The Tigers had lost pitchers Virgil Trucks, Hal White and Tommy Bridges and regular second baseman Jimmy Bloodworth for the 1944 season. Prior to the 1943 season Wakefield and All-Star third baseman Mike "Pinky" Higgins were shipped off to the navy. Though too old to fight, Manager O'Neil served in his own unique way, accompanying a USO tour of the southwest Pacific during the off-season.

Besides the loss of these key players, increasing demands for manpower and concern for those being exempted also caused the government to reexamine its policy on physical deferments. That prospect shook baseball, since the game depended on the so-called 4-Fs, those physically unfit for military service. This ominous news from Washington raised the ire of Tiger catcher Birdie Tebbetts, then serving as a captain in the army. "It seems a shame that the recreation of millions of people should be disregarded to appease the few hardheads who feel that the three hundred men involved will, by themselves, win the war." In 1945 an estimated 260 major league players were classified 4-F.

During the off-season the Tigers had acquired shortstop James "Skeeter" Webb, who worried about his status. "This latest ruling looks pretty bad for baseball and we 4Fs who have been playing but perhaps the good war news lately will change their plans." Webb's deferment was based on a "slight heart murmur." The Tigers' other shortstop had Webb to contend with as well as his own 4-F classifications. Early in January 1945 Joe Hoover had good news to report to Tiger management. "I received my notice for induction not long after I got home and I appealed to the State Director of Selective Service and was politely turned down. Nothing left for me to do but take my physical and hope. I guess I hoped enough because they rejected me for ulcers."

In addition to these two infielders, the Tiger lineup of 4-F players was substantial: Hal Newhouser (heart murmur), Dizzy Trout (hearing and sight impairment), Jimmy Outlaw (flat feet), Rudy York (knee injury) and Bob Maier (hernia). Early in the year, the general manager conducted a survey of personnel to determine their classification. Among the responses, Zeller received a confident report from pitcher Walter "Boom Boom" Beck. "Wish to advise my new classification is 4-A. Nothing 4-F about me, am in the pink and rarin' to go. Am ready for anything and everything so long as its 'Baseball.'"

A profile of major league players during the later years of the war showed an average age of over thirty, married and 4-F. Among the 1945 Tigers, those players in their twenties were in the clear minority. Chuck Hostetler (41), Roger "Doc" Cramer (40), Harvey "Hub" Walker (39), Tommy Bridges (38) and George Caster (38) represented the "senior citizens" on the roster. Bob Maier at 29 and Walt Wilson at 31 were both rookies. But before the 1945 season ended, the Tigers would benefit from the return of eight veterans who had been discharged from military service.

In 1945 the Detroit Tigers went back to Evansville to prepare for a season of promise. They brought several kids to camp; at seventeen both Art Houtteman and Billy Pierce were too young to be drafted. Still, the Tigers invited only twenty-eight players to train at Evansville. The office of Defense Transportation increased its travel restrictions, severely limiting the opportunity to play other major league teams. Detroit managed only four games against big-league competition when they were granted permission to play the Chicago White Sox in Terre Haute, Indiana, on their way back to Michigan. Because of a shortage of baseballs, even the tradition of players autographing them as souvenirs was curtailed.

Hank Greenberg hits a home run in his first game after leaving the U.S. Army.The 1945 season began with Detroit facing the St. Louis Browns. After the Tigers dropped the opener 7-1, Trout and Al Benton, who had recently returned from the navy, threw consecutive shutouts.

In the "hunt" for the pennant from the beginning of the season, the Tigers took over first place on June 13. The game on July 1, however, marked an event of huge proportion—slugger Hank Greenberg was back. In a great public-relations feat, the Tigers inserted Hammering Hank into the lineup for a Sunday double-header at Briggs Stadium. In movie-script fashion Greenberg responded to the moment, thrilling nearly forty-nine thousand fans by belting an eighth-inning home run in the first game. It had been four years and fifty-five days since he last played major league baseball.

Tommy Bridges puts on a Tigers uniform for the first time in two years.By July 4 Detroit led the challenging Yankees by three and a half games. Despite Greenberg's return, the team was hitting an anemic .246. In August Tommy Bridges rejoined the team, but the former army sergeant wondered "which has slipped most—me or the league."

During most of August and the first days of September, the Tigers struggled in a four-team race, with the Yankees, Browns and Senators nipping at their heels. Catching a second wind, the Tigers shifted into overdrive on September 4, winning both ends of a double-header before a crowd of 53,953, which pushed the team's season attendance to a new Tiger record of 1,112,693. A road trip to New York saw the Tigers win five of seven games that took the Yankees out of the race. But the red-hot Washington Senators wouldn't go away.

As a two-team race developed, Tiger enthusiasm intensified. Detroit Free Press sports editor Lyall Smith got so caught up in the frenzy of a heated pennant race that he proposed a writing campaign he believed would be "the biggest long-distance demonstration of cheering a team on to victory that has ever been staged." The idea produced ten thousand cards and letters that Tiger broadcaster Harry Heilmann carried to Washington, where the Tigers began a crucial five-game series on September 15. By winning three, the Bengals left the capital with a one-and-a-half game lead.

But it was the pitching duo of Trout and Newhouser that made the difference for the Tigers that September. Trout performed brilliantly, winning his seventeenth game after yielding only one run in twenty-five and one-third innings. On September 27 Newhouser posted his twenty-fourth win with his eighth shutout and helped Detroit clinch a tie for the pennant. A respectful White Sox player noted of Newhouser, "Fast ball, fast curve, slow curve, slider. He throws 'em all and you have one guess. And when I say fast ball, I'm talking about a pitch that sings 'try and touch me' as it goes by."

The second-place Senators, who stood one game behind the Tigers and had completed their season, and all Tiger fans, watched anxiously as Detroit journeyed to St. Louis for the final two games of the regular season. Detroit had to win one game to be the American League champions.

On Sunday, September 30, following two days of rain, the Tigers and Browns squared off in a scheduled double-header on a soggy field. Returning servicemen were again in the limelight. Recently discharged navy pitching star Virgil Trucks started for the Tigers, and, in a manner befitting a classic clutch hitter, Greenberg came to bat with the bases loaded in the ninth inning. With two outs and the Tigers trailing 3-2, he slammed a one-and-one pitch into the left-field stands. The Tigers were headed to the World Series.

Team managers Steve O'Neil and Charlie Grimm shake hands before the 1945 World Series.The Associated Press gave the Tigers the edge in the World Series, but on paper the Cubs appeared to be the stronger team. Like the Tigers, the Cubs had survived a tough pennant race, nosing out the St. Louis Cardinals by a three-game margin, while playing at a .636 clip. The Tigers won ten fewer games, finishing with a winning percentage of just .575. The Bruins led the National League in many important categories: hitting, fielding and earned-run average. The Cubs' offense boasted Phil Cavarretta, the National League leader, at .355; Stan Hack at .322; Don Johnson at .302; and Andy Pafko at .298. Cub hurlers were among the league leaders; Hank Wyse was second with twenty-two wins and Hank Borowy had the lowest earned-run average at 2.13. Although enjoying less distinguished individual accomplishments, Detroit could rely on Mayo (whose .285 average was tops), Greenberg and Roger Cramer to produce runs. But the Tigers' strength lay with their pitchers, especially Newhouser, who dominated nearly every pitching category in the American League. The 1945 American League's most valuable player had pitched over 300 innings, struck out 212, won 25 games and allowed fewer than two runs per game. In a seven-game series, Newhouser would be available to start three times.

History, however, bode ill for the Cubs. They had lost their last six post-season encounters. In 1908 the Cubs had won the world championship at the expense of Detroit, but the Tigers had defeated them in the 1935 series. Briggs Stadium drew the honor of hosting the first three games of the 1945 fall classic. Newhouser started for Detroit; Chicago countered with Borowy, who had been acquired from the Yankees at midseason. With eleven victories in fourteen attempts, Borowy had an impressive record for taming the Tigers.

The battle ended quickly when Chicago scored four runs in their first turn at bat and drove the Tiger ace from the game in the third when they scored three more times. When it was over, Detroit had been whitewashed 9-0. Despite Borowy's effectiveness, the Tigers had their chances but failed to produce. In a terse statement Tiger manager O'Neil explained, "They delivered with men on bases and we didn't. That's the whole story." Cub skipper Charlie Grimm offered an equally succinct summary. "They waited up there at the plate until they had Newhouser in the hole and then belted his big one. That's all there was to it."

The match-up for game two featured Hank Wyse and Virgil "Fire" Trucks. Both hurled shutout ball until the Cubs broke through with a run in the fourth. Detroit tied the score in the bottom of the fifth on Cramer's single and scored the deciding runs after Greenberg powered a three-run homer over the fence in left after two were out. Trucks pitched masterfully, allowing only seven hits en route to a 4-1 victory. An enthusiastic Paul Richards gushed, "He's the fastest thing I ever caught."

Although the Cubs scored a couple of "cheap runs" in game three, they only needed one to defeat the Tigers on October 5. Claude Passeau pitched a gem, allowing one hit, a Rudy York single in the second. Catcher Bob Swift was the Tigers' only other base runner when he drew a walk in the sixth, but he was quickly erased by a double play. Impressed with Passeau's slider, Mayo described the right-hander as "the Cubs' best pitcher."

Down two games to one, the Tigers were off to the Windy City.

In game four O'Neil called on right-hander Dizzy Trout. Trout had suffered through an oft-injured season and, like Newhouser, had carried an excessive pitching load. But on this day Trout was in complete control, throwing a five-hitter and permitting just one Cub runner to score. Trout had many tools and he used them all in this decisive game. "The guy almost drove us nuts out there," remembered Grimm. "If he wasn't wiping his glasses, he was blowing his nose. Once in a while, he'd switch and scrape the mound, or tug at his cap. Sometimes I wondered if he ever was going to pitch. And if it bothered me, you can imagine what it did to our guys." Trout's teammates bunched four hits and two walks in the fourth inning to account for their four runs.

Remarkably, in thirty-five innings of play the Tigers had scored only two innings, yet the series stood knotted at two games apiece.

Tiger team members are confident after winning game five."Borowy was just as tired as I was," Newhouser recalled of game five. "I got a little faster. The weather was cooler and that helped. We got a few runs early in the game and that allowed me to make some mistakes." Newhouser fanned nine and with a little luck, would have recorded a shutout. Tiger hitters finally broke loose, banging out eleven base hits off four Cub hurlers. Detroit sent ten men to the plate in the sixth inning while disposing of nemesis Hank Borowy en route to an 8-4 victory. Greenberg contributed three doubles to the cause. After the game Grimm simply noted, "The kid is a great pitcher." In the other locker room, a jubilant O'Neal boasted, "We have started hitting like we should." The confident Bengal manager announced he would start "Mr. Trucks" in the next game.

Continued in next msg...

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part 2...

Virgil Trucks tries to keep warm before game six of the World Series.Detroit opened game six by scoring a run in the second inning. The score remained 1-0 through four innings. Trucks was throwing his high hard one, but the Cubs caught up with him in the fifth. "I didn't have a good curve ball," he later remembered. "I went after everyone with a fast ball." Amid a four-run Chicago rally, Trucks was driven from the mound. The Cubs added another run in the sixth. Detroit scored two in the seventh but Chicago answered with two more in their half of the frame. The fateful seventh was one of two nightmarish innings for the Bengals. A base-running blunder killed a promising rally. Halfway up the line, Hostetler put on the brakes, lost his footing, fell and was tagged out. "We would have won if Chuck Hostetler had only caught my signal to hold up when he was rounding third after Eddie Mayo had singled," a dejected O'Neil sighed. A walk and two more hits followed. Had Hostetler stopped at third, his run would have been the tie breaker and "we would now have been heading for home," the Tiger skipper recalled. With the Cubs leading 7-3 in the eighth, Detroit rallied to tie the score. With two out and one runner aboard, Greenberg again delivered, driving the ball over the fence.

The game remained scoreless until the bottom of the twelfth when Lady Luck donned a Cub uniform. With two outs and a runner on first, Stan Hack drove a single to left. When Greenberg went down on one knee to get in front of the ball it took a weird hop and bounced over his shoulder. The ball rolled all the way to the wall, letting the lead runner score. Following the Cub victory an elated Cub manager proposed cutting "in the groundskeeper for a full share" of the series' winnings.

The official scorer's decision that the hit was a single and assessing Greenberg with an error touched off a major furor. Five hours later the error was erased from the record. The three-hour-and-twenty-eight-minute wild affair—the longest game in the history of the World Series—had involved a record-breaking thirty-eight players.

After playing games on six consecutive days, the teams were finally given a day to rest. With the series tied three games apiece, the world championship of baseball would be decided on October 10 in Chicago. For the finale, both teams featured the same two warriors who had faced each other nine days earlier—Borowy and Newhouser.

Grimm was asking a lot of Borowy. Besides going the distance in game one, he had pitched five and two-thirds innings in game five and four innings in game six. The Tiger pitcher was in no better condition. "I was beat," remembered Newhouser. "My body was so tired I couldn't sleep." While taking batting practice, Newhouser though he caught a break. "It was a fairly warm day and people sitting in the center field bleachers had their coats off and the white shirts made it hard for the hitter to pick up the ball." After talking it over with his catcher, Newhouser decided to come straight over the top with his fastball and take advantage of the white background the hitters would see. "I didn't have a major league fast ball that day but I threw as hard as I could. I may have gotten a little mental lift from what I thought was an edge given by those white shirts."

Borowy did not retire a batter before he left the game in a first inning that saw the Tigers score five runs and put the game out of reach. Newhouser scattered ten hits, struck out ten and allowed just three runs. His teammates converted their nine hits into nine runs.The Detroit Tigers celebrate after winning the 1945 World Series. Richards was the big gun for Detroit, hitting two timely doubles and driving in four runners.

The Tigers won 9-3.

The 1945 World Series established a new attendance record of 333,457, perhaps symbolic of a relieved nation. The war was over. Phil Cavarretta paced the Chicago attack with a sizzling .423 average. A dependable Roger Cramer hit an impressive though quiet .379. Slugging and clutch-hitting honors went to Hank Greenberg, whose five extra-base hits and seven runs batted in came at critical times for the Tigers. Yet everyone knew that the Tigers' fortunes rested with their twenty-four-year-old ace. Coming back from a disappointing first-game loss, Hal Newhouser delivered, winning games five and seven. He struck out twenty-two, setting a new World Series mark. Reflecting on the series, Cub manager Charlie Grimm concluded, "They're a tough ball club and don't forget they had the best pitcher in baseball out there flinging for them. I said he was a great pitcher when we beat him in Detroit. And I'll repeat it here—he's a helluva pitcher."

All of Michigan was proud of the Tigers. Drawing a parallel with the state's role as the Arsenal of Democracy, the Detroit Free Press congratulated the Tigers for having "done on the baseball diamond what Detroit did on the grimmer, more vital, global scale in war production."

Baseball historian William Anderson is currently director of the Michigan Department of History, Arts and Libraries.

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Another Rudy York item I gleaned from my SABR sources (SABR-L for those who know of it):

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In the acknowledgements in the (first) Fireside Book of Baseball (Simon & Schuster, 1956), is this note:

"Sport Magazine, for ... "A Letter to My Son" by Rudy York as told to Furman Bisher, c (copyright) 1954 by Macfadden Publications, Inc."

On page 382, another note appears:

"'A Letter to My Son' appeared in Sport magazine, the result of a series of interviews which Furman Bisher, sports editor of the Atlanta Constitution, held with Rudy York. The letter was addressed to York's teen-age son, who wanted to become a professional ballplayer."

Whether Bisher ghost-wrote the bulk of the letter or not, it is a striking essay. York urges his son (Joe Wilburn York) to avoid liquor, something Rudy would do if he had it to do over again, as it shortened his career. The letter runs six pages of small print. Rudy recalls hitting 18 HRs in August 1937 (Ruth had the record of 17), but no mention of 50 RBIs, which is more amazing when you realize York did not play the full month!

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This is a great opportunity to plug a documentary that all Tiger fans should love, The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg. The documentary focuses on the fact that Greenberg was the first Jewish baseball superstar and the pressures and hatred he experienced as a result. Great film footage, lots of interviews with most if not all of the former Tigers mentioned in this thread. Lots of interviews with the likes of Walter Matthau, Allan Dirkowitz, Joe Falls, members of the Briggs family and the Greenbergs.

One interesting story. I always wondered why Greenberg was "traded" to the Pirates late in his career. According to the Briggs family, who owned the Tigers at that time, Mr. Briggs saw a newspapaer picture of Hank Greenberg in a Yankee uniform during the off-season. The film isn't clear as to whether the article or someone told Briggs that Greenberg wanted to finish his career as a Yankee. Immediately, Briggs worked out a gentleman's agreement with every AL owner not to claim Greenberg on waivers. The Pirates, who was either the worst or second worst team in the NL, then got to claim Greenberg. Briggs wanted him to play on the worst team in baseball. The next day, Briggs found out that the picture was from 1943 when Greenberg was playing in an exhibition game to sell war bonds. They (Yankee Stadium) couldn't find a Tiger uniform big enough for Greenberg to wear during the game so they gave him a Yankee uniform. Greenberg, who loved the Tigers, had no intention of ever playing for any other team.

Greenberg heard news of the trade over the radio. Later in the day, he received a short telegram from Briggs stating that Pittsburgh had picked up his contract. He was shocked and devestated.

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Thanks for all the information Bert and Red. I've been reading a lot about York lately but I still learned new things from this thread. I've been looking at box scores from 1937 and that August was really quite a month. Tiger fans should talk about it more.

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Another fact about York is that he was part Cherokee.

This is from "American Heroes":

http://www.baseballhistorian.com/html/american_heroes.cfm?page=41

Rudy York

Rudy York

First Baseman, Catcher, Right-handed; Detroit Tigers 1937-1945; Boston Red Sox 1946-47; Chicago White Sox 1947; Philadelphia A's 1948; Born 8/17/1913 Ragland, Alabama

Rudy York made headline news as a rookie for Detroit in 1937 by breaking Babe Ruth's record for home runs in the month of August. On the last day of August, York hit two homers giving him 18 for the month breaking Ruth's record of 17. Rudy York also had 49-RBI's breaking Lou Gehrig's August record by one. York finished his rookie season with 35 HR's, batted .303 with 103-RBI's.

The next year, York powered 33 HR's and scored 127 runs. That year, York and teammate Hank Greenberg combined for 91 HR's, the fifth best among AL duos in history.

York's ancestry was mostly American Indian and he often stated, 'I'm a Cherokee Indian, and I'm proud of it. Any time an Indian puts on a baseball uniform, he's twice as interesting a character as the other fellow.'

He had his best season as a Tiger in 1940, hitting .316, 46 doubles, 33 home runs and 134 RBI's. He was traded to the Red Sox in January of 1946 and on July 27, York hit two grand slams in one game with 10 RBI's. Rudy York hit 277 career homers including 12 grand slams. York's career stats: .275 BA, a lofty .362 on-bse-pct, .483 slg pct, 291 D's, 277 HR's, along with 1621 hits and 1152 RBI's. baseballhistorian.com - Detroit Tigers Baseball History

And this from "Find A Grave" (really!):

http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=3629

Major League Baseball Player. Played Major League baseball for 13 seasons (1934, 1937 to 1948) as a catcher and first baseman with the Detroit Tigers, Boston Red Sox, Chicago White Sox and Philadelphia Athletics. Throughout his career he was a major offensive force and dangerous hitter who contrasted that talent with a lack of fielding and defensive ability. His prowness at the plate kept him in his teams lineups, but his poor “glove” caused his managers fits. Having one-eighth Cherokee ancestry in him, he was said to be “one part Indian and one part First Baseman”. Had an extremely stellar minor league offensive career, being named MVP of the Texas League and American Association in successive years while playing both catcher and 1st base. Except for a three game call up at the end of the 1934 with the Detroit Tigers, he toiled in the minors, having the misfortune of playing the same position as Tigers great 1st baseman Hank Greenburg. When Tiger’s catcher Mickey Cochrane sustained a fractured skull, Rudy York was called up to replace him in June 1937, and went to have a spectacular Rookie season. In only 305 at-bats, he crushed 35 home runs (tying the then-rookie record), batted .307 and drove in 103 RBIs. August 1937 saw him smack 18 home runs and drive in 43 RBI, both of which set records for a single month (the 18 home runs in a month stood until the Cubs’ Sammy Sosa broke it with 20 in June 1998). In 1938 he continued his pace, hitting 4 grand slams in the year (3 in the month of May), being named to the AL All-Star team, and driving in 127 RBIs. By 1940, it was apparent that the place he could do the least damage on the field as 1st base, so slugger Greenburg was induced to move to the outfield by a hefty bonus, and Rudy York moved to where he would play for the next 11 years. Despite leading AL 1st basemen in errors three time, he worked hard at his fielding, and eventually developed into an adequate 1st baseman. The moved paid off for the Tigers in 1940, though. Behind the hitting of York and Greenburg, and the pitching of Bobo Newsom and Schoolboy Rowe, the Tigers clinched the AL Pennant, and played a hard fought World Series against the Cincinnati Reds, who outlasted them 4 games to 3. Rudy York batted .231, and hit a home run in the Tigers 7 to 4 Game Three victory. During the War years, 1941 to 1945, he took the mantle of the Tigers’ top offensive player when Greenburg went to serve in the military. During those years he was named to the AL All-Star team 5 consecutive times. In the 1942 game, his 1st-inning home run off of the Cardinals’ Mort Cooper helped propel the AL to a 3 to 1 win. In 1943 he led the American League in Home Runs and RBIs with 34 and 118, respectively, and nearly tied his own record with 17 Home runs in August. Despite his offensive numbers tailing off in 1944 and 1945, he remained a threat at the plate, and contributed to the 1945 Tigers winning first the AL Pennant, then the World Championship. In that years’ World Series, pitted against the Chicago Cubs, he hit only .179, but still drove in 3 runs. In Game Three, he got the only hit off of the Cubs’ Claude Passeau, who pitched a one-hit, 3 to 0 gem. Traded to the Boston Red Sox in the off season for shortstop Eddie Lake, that move paid immediate dividends for Rudy York and the Sox. On June 27, he hit two grand slams against the St. Louis Browns and drove in a total of 10 runs. He was named to the AL All-Star team, finished the year with 119 RBIS, and helped the Red Sox win the AL Pennant. In his third World Series (this time against the St. Louis Cardinals), he finally shone. In Game One he hit a 10th-inning, tie-breaking, game-winning home run, and in Game Three he hit a 3-run first-inning home run that was all the Red Sox needed to win the game. Despite his heroics, the Cardinals took the Series, 4 Games to 3, winning on Enos Slaughter’s famous “mad dash” from 1st base in Game 7. York batted .261 with 5 RBIS in the Series. After 48 games into the 1947 season he was traded to the White Sox, and was named to his 7th and final All-Star game. In 1948 he played 31 games for the Philadelphia A’s before finally retiring. He spent 4 years as a Coach with the Red Sox, and coached in their minor league system until 1963. His career totals were 1,603 Games Played, 1,621 Hits, 876 Runs, 277 Home Runs, 1,152 RBIs and a career .275 Batting Average. (bio by: Russ Dodge)

Burial:

Sunset Memory Gardens

Cartersville

Bartow County

Georgia, USA

Plot: Section 221, Lot D, Space 2

yorkrudy.jpg

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One interesting story. I always wondered why Greenberg was "traded" to the Pirates late in his career. According to the Briggs family, who owned the Tigers at that time, Mr. Briggs saw a newspapaer picture of Hank Greenberg in a Yankee uniform during the off-season. The film isn't clear as to whether the article or someone told Briggs that Greenberg wanted to finish his career as a Yankee. Immediately, Briggs worked out a gentleman's agreement with every AL owner not to claim Greenberg on waivers. The Pirates, who was either the worst or second worst team in the NL, then got to claim Greenberg. Briggs wanted him to play on the worst team in baseball. The next day, Briggs found out that the picture was from 1943 when Greenberg was playing in an exhibition game to sell war bonds. They (Yankee Stadium) couldn't find a Tiger uniform big enough for Greenberg to wear during the game so they gave him a Yankee uniform. Greenberg, who loved the Tigers, had no intention of ever playing for any other team.

Greenberg heard news of the trade over the radio. Later in the day, he received a short telegram from Briggs stating that Pittsburgh had picked up his contract. He was shocked and devestated.

That is a very sad story. If I didn't have a room full of third-graders here all making ant's-eye-view drawings I mmight get tearful. Thanks for the great writing.

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I know Bert will do more on Mr. Greenberg - this is an extract from the SABR's BioProject:

http://bioproj.sabr.org/bioproj.cfm?a=v&v=l&bid=702&pid=5439

The 1946 season was Greenberg's last for Detroit. While driving, he heard on his car radio that he had been waived out of the American League and claimed by the Pittsburgh Pirates for $35,000. Hank said, "I don't understand it and I never will." Dan Daniel of the New York World Telegram suggested that it was a photograph of Hank in a Yankee uniform that led to the Tigers waiving him. The story goes that Greenberg was ordered by the Air Force, in August 1943, to play in an All-Star War Bond Game. He flew into New York without any equipment. The day before the game, the stars had a workout at Yankee stadium. The Yankees could not find a Detroit uniform for him, so they put him in a Yankee uniform. A photographer had him pose for a photo in the Yankee pinstripes. Three years later, the photo emerged and Hank was waived by Detroit. Daniel offered yet more speculation as to why Greenberg was immediately sent packing after the photo was released: "Detroit never took Greenberg unto its bosom. It was willing to cheer him when he was delivering home runs. But it was quite ready to hoot him in less glorious moments. Now let us see how the 1947 Tigers get along without him."

Another possible reason for Greenberg's being put on the waiver list was his applying for the position of General Manager of the Tigers. Greenberg was turned down by Briggs, who felt that Greenberg did not have the qualifications for the job. Shortly afterwards he was put on the waiver list and no one picked him up. Was the reason for putting him on the waiver list due to his applying for the General Manager's job?

At first, Hank decided it was time to retire. But John Galbreath, owner of the Pirates, lured him into one more season by offering him a contract for $100,000. He was the first player to reach that plateau; for good measure Galbreath threw in a racehorse.

The Pirates hoped to help the pull-hitting Greenberg by shortening the left field wall by about 25 feet. The area became known as Greenberg's Gardens and later became known as Kiner's Korner. Bone chips in his elbow as well as other ailments during the 1947 season bothered Greenberg. His average dipped to a career-low .249, and he managed just 25 homers and 74 RBI.

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The film did interview Greenberg about his trade to Pittsburgh and basically confirmed what redshark has added.

The film also mentioned another tidbit that can be related to York. Greenberg was not a very good defensive 1B. His footwork was terrible. Gehringer finally told him to stay home and he would get everything hit to their side of the infield. Greenberg literally grabbed this problem with both hands and, accordinging to the film, invented the first baseman's glove. He added extra webbing to an infielders glove so he could catch the ball with the mitt rather than with his hand. Either the AL or MLB initially outlawed the glove but soon rescinded and the glove was allowed.

York was even a worse fielder. Greeneberg was hesitant to move to the OF but enlisted the help of Billy Rogell and Barney McCloskey. Rogell hit Greenberg "thousands" of shag balls in spring training to get him use to playing the OF. Again, his poor footwork hindered Greenberg and his range was very limited. Like Gehringer, CF McCloskey told Greenberg that everything hit to left center filed was his and asked Greenberg to make sure he stayed out of his way, which Greenebrg happily obliged.

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What a shabby way to treat Hank Greenberg. It's hard to imagine such spite toward a player. Was Briggs some kind of bonehead anti-semite or something? Or did he treat everyone like crap?

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Not to continue the Greenberg detour but, there is a ton of stuff on the guy. Bert remember to repost these when you do Hank.

http://www.jewishaz.com/jewishnews/981009/baseball.shtml

The Jewish Babe Ruth

Before McGwire, Greenberg made serious run at home-run record

PAULINE DUBKIN YEARWOOD

Chicago Jewish News

Hank Greenberg

In 1938, first baseman Hank Greenberg of the Detroit Tigers hit 58 home runs, falling just short of Babe Ruth's record of 60 in 1927.

I always felt that Walter Briggs, the owner of the (Detroit) Tigers, was almost pulling for me not to break Ruth's (home run) record, because it might mean $5,000 or $10,000 more in salary for me. Today, if a guy had a chance to break the record, they'd be publicizing him and making a folk hero out of him..."

So wrote Jewish sports legend Hank Greenberg, the Tigers' Hall-of-Fame slugger, in "Hank Greenberg: The Story of My Life," the autobiography he was working on, with sportswriter Ira Berkow, at the time of his death in 1989. He was referring to the 1938 season, when the first baseman hit 58 homers, coming very close to breaking Babe Ruth's then-single-season record of 60. Indeed, no ballplayer hit more homers in a season than Greenberg did in 1938, until Roger Maris hit 61 in 1961.

And today, the public is indeed "making folk heroes" and more out of the St. Louis Cardinals' Mark McGwire, who this year broke Maris's homer record by hitting 70 of them; and the Cubs' Sammy Sosa, who chased McGwire all season and finished with 66 home runs. But in 1938, there were some who found it an outrage that the Babe's 1927 record might be broken by a Jewish ballplayer, one who in 1934 had drawn great admiration from Jews and many non-Jews for refusing to play on Yom Kippur during a close pennant race.

Speaking of his whole career, Henry Benjamin "Hank" Greenberg wrote: "Sure, here was added pressure being Jewish. How the hell could you get up to home plate every day and have some son of a ***** call you a Jew bastard and a kike and a sheenie and get on you ... without feeling the pressure? If the ballplayers weren't doing it, the fans were."

Greenberg didn't take such slurs passively, especially from fellow ballplayers. In his book "Ellis Island to Ebbets Field: Sport and the American Jewish Experience," Peter Levine recounts that during the summer of 1938, an unnamed Chicago White Sox player called Greenberg a "yellow Jew son of a *****" during a game. After the game, Hank entered the White Sox clubhouse and demanded that the player "come here and call me that to my face." No one moved. Literature and legend are replete with similar stories, some of which end with Greenberg dropping the offending player with a single smack to the jaw.

The two-time Most Valuable Player also believed that "being Jewish did carry with it a special responsibility. After all, I was representing a couple of million Jews among a hundred million gentiles, and I was always in the spotlight." By 1938, he said he had come to feel that "if I, as a Jew, hit a home run, I was hitting one against Hitler."

A memorable year

Suspense built during that fateful season when, with five games left to go, Greenberg already had hit 58 home runs, closing in on the Babe's record. At that point, his mother offered to make him 61 baseball-shaped gefilte fish portions if he broke the record. During the next four games, however, Greenberg went without a homer.

Then came the final game of the season, against the Cleveland Indians. The crowd was both tense and excited. Fans realized that it wasn't impossible for Greenberg at least to tie the record, since he had hit two home runs in 11 different games that season. By the seventh inning, he had hit three singles and walked once.

Then, in those days before ballpark lights, the game was called because of darkness. As Hank describes it in his book: "It really shouldn't have lasted that long. But the umpire was George Moriarty, my friend. I know that he wanted me to have every possible chance at the Babe's record. After the seventh inning, Moriarty said to me, 'I'm sorry, Hank. But this is as far as I can go.' I said, 'That's all right, George, this is as far as I can go, too.' "

Would Greenberg have had a better chance to break Ruth's record if his name had been Grayson, or, for that matter, McGwire? Author Levine writes that some members of Hank's family, as well as some Jewish fans, "remained convinced that Hank's assault on the Babe's record was undermined by anti-Semitic pitchers who refused to give their hero a decent pitch to hit."

The hero himself thoroughly denied that notion, writing in his autobiography that "some people still have it fixed in their minds that the reason I didn't break Ruth's record was because I was Jewish, that the ballplayers did everything they could to stop me. That's pure baloney. The fact is quite the opposite: So far as I could tell, the players were mostly rooting for me, aside from the pitchers."

His own explanation for the failure to break the record is that he was never in Ruth's class as a home-run hitter. "I averaged around 35 (home runs)," he wrote, "so this was just a freak season for me."

His real goal, he related, was always to break Lou Gehrig's record of 184 runs-batted-in. He came close to accomplishing that feat in 1937 when he had 183 RBIs, just short of that record, too. He also noted that team owners didn't encourage spectacular achievements from their players: They would have to pay them too much extra salary.

From the vantage point of 60 years, we may never know just how much anti-Semitism figured in Greenberg's failure to break Ruth's record, says Steven Riess, a history professor at Northeastern Illinois University who has just had a book published called "Sports and the American Jew."

"

According to the folklore, and to some old Jewish fans, (ballplayers) were trying not to pitch to him," Riess said in a telephone interview. "We know there was lots of anti-Semitism in baseball in those days, and the players would probably just as soon he not break the record. But then, they didn't want anyone to break that record."

On the other hand, he says, Greenberg seemed to have had "relatively decent chances" to homer during the last five games of the season, including one game during which pitching great Bob Feller struck out 18 players. Another time, says Riess, Greenberg hit the ball off the roof but it went foul.

"I wasn't there, so I don't know, but (Greenberg) seemed to be a pretty honest guy, and he himself didn't feel that he didn't get a fair shake," Riess concludes.

Besides, Greenberg said after that 1938 season when he came oh so close, there was no way he could have eaten all that gefilte fish, anyway.

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What a shabby way to treat Hank Greenberg. It's hard to imagine such spite toward a player. Was Briggs some kind of bonehead anti-semite or something? Or did he treat everyone like crap?

Not sure on the anti-Semite thing, but I did meet his grandson W Briggs III at a Auction for my Synagogue about 10 years ago. Don't remember the details, may have married into the tribe.:classic:

Like alot of owners of his era, they were skin-flints - especially in the late 30's when the depression was still in full force.

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Not to continue the Greenberg detour but, there is a ton of stuff on the guy. Bert remember to repost these when you do Hank..
I will. Thanks!

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What a shabby way to treat Hank Greenberg. It's hard to imagine such spite toward a player. Was Briggs some kind of bonehead anti-semite or something? Or did he treat everyone like crap?

From what I've read - pretty much everyone. Briggs is usually portrayed as a devout racist. I read an article that was printed in the Michigan Chronicle around 1945 or 1946. The Michigan Chronicle is an African-American newspaper. Anyway, the author was writing about one of the few (perhaps only?) Negro League games ever played at Tiger Stadium when he compared Briggs to Hitler. Lets just say - Briggs finished second. :wink:

:alien:

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From what I've read - pretty much everyone. Briggs is usually portrayed as a devout racist. I read an article that was printed in the Michigan Chronicle around 1945 or 1946. The Michigan Chronicle is an African-American newspaper. Anyway, the author was writing about one of the few (perhaps only?) Negro League games ever played at Tiger Stadium when he compared Briggs to Hitler. Lets just say - Briggs finished second. :wink:

:alien:

Thank you! This is getting as good as a game thread. I like how people are taking it and running with it.

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Thank you! This is getting as good as a game thread. I like how people are taking it and running with it.

Better than a game thread, 'cause the Tigers will not blow this game.:happy:

Of course, a ballpark image or two might help:

Bennett Park

bennet01.jpg

ph_ballpark_Bennett_Park.jpg

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Thank you! This is getting as good as a game thread. I like how people are taking it and running with it.

The Tigers will never win another pennant as long as Briggs owns the team. He doesn't want to win. I will never watch another game until that cheap bastard sells the team.

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The Tigers will never win another pennant as long as Briggs owns the team. He doesn't want to win. I will never watch another game until that cheap bastard sells the team.
Oh, have I got some things to share about Briggs. I'll post the article soon and try to find more. He was an out and out racist, apparently.

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Oh, have I got some things to share about Briggs. I'll post the article soon and try to find more. He was an out and out racist, apparently.

I wonder how long Briggs actually owned the club. IIRC, the Tigers were one of the last teams to be racially integrated, so I guess the idea of Briggs being a racist wouldn't surprise me .............

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A couple of comments on the redshark article. The CWS player was Joe Kuhel. Whether he was instructed by his manager or did it on his own, Kuhel would take a lead off first and then slide feet first back into the bag when the pitcher tried to pick him off. Greenberg got tired of this and after the game went into the visitor's clubhouse to confront him. Apparently, he challenged anyone on the CWS for a fight and no one took the offer.

Greenebrg and his teammates felt there were many owners and players who did not want to see him break Ruth's record but never felt he was intentionally pitched around. According to his teammates, Greenberg could never even touch Feller and felt he would have no success against Feller on that last weekend and they were proven right.

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I wonder how long Briggs actually owned the club. IIRC, the Tigers were one of the last teams to be racially integrated, so I guess the idea of Briggs being a racist wouldn't surprise me .............
This link was sent to me by redshark63. It is fairly revealing...

http://experts.about.com/q/249/3140176.htm

--------------------------------------------------------------------------

Topic: Detroit Tigers

Expert: Jim Hopkins

Date: 9/1/2003

Subject: the slow integration of the Tigers

Question

Did owner Walter Briggs ever say on the record that he wouldn't hire a black man for the Tigers? If he died in 1952, why do you think the team still took until 1958 to add Ozzie Virgil? Do you know if they had any blacks in their minor league system at the time? Thank you so much, Jim.

Answer

Walter O. Briggs, Sr., was not going to allow his team to sign a black player. That was very well known. I don't know if this was voiced in an official missive or not. But privately, Briggs let it be known that he had no interest in anything but lily white players outfitted in his lily white home flannels.

Briggs died in 1952 but his estate trust owned the team until it was sold in late 1957. Not coincidentally, that's when the Tigers signed their first black player.

I don't recall if Virgil was the first black player signed to the Tigers system, but I believe that he was.

I have seen copies of scouting reports prepared by scout and former manager Bill Norman during the mid-1950's. If a player was black, that was first and foremost in Norman's report. Obviously, that was Detroit's major initial consideration in signing young talent in those days.

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