1945: A Long Day of Baseball

June 15, 2009

Friday June 15, 1945

The Boston Red Sox and Washington Senators had a double header scheduled for Friday June 15, but the fans at Griffith Stadium that day/night saw the equivalent of almost three full games.

Red Sox pitcher Dave Ferriss pitched a 14-inning complete game that was finally won when right fielder John Lazor’s single scored George Metkovich from third base. Lazor, a back up outfielder who started the game due to Pete Fox’s tooth extraction, had four hits in the 6-5 Sox victory.

First baseman Joe Kuhel was 4-for-5 for the Nats, who took an early 5-0 lead only to watch the Sox tie the game with a five-run top of the seventh. The game lasted three hours and 25 minutes according to the box score in the New York Times.

The two teams played 13 innings in the second game before running into the league’s curfew rule. The Nats led the game 4-2 heading into the top of the ninth, only to watch the Sox come back and tie the game with two runs. No AL game was allowed to start an inning after 12:50 AM, so when the 13th inning closed with the score still 4-4, the game was called.

It is the first recorded major league game to last past midnight.


1944: Baseball’s First Casualty of World War II

April 28, 2009

Originally posted April 23, 2008

April 20, 1944

Elmer Gedeon was part of an athletic family from the beginning. His uncle Joe was a major league ballplayer who made a little history of his own by being the only player banned as a result of the Black Sox scandal that wasn’t actually a member of the team that threw the games.

Elmer followed in his uncle’s athletic footsteps, however, and became a multi-sport athlete at the University of Michigan. He lettered in three different sports, but his best was probably track and field, in which he was a two-time Big Ten Champion, helping his team to earn multiple National Championships. Elmer also played football and baseball in college.

Upon graduation in 1939, Gedeon signed with the Washington Nationals. After spending the first part of that season in the minors, he was called up in mid-September and appeared in five games for Washington. He spent the 1940 season playing in Charlotte, and though he received another September call to Washington he did not appear in any games. Gedeon was set to return to spring training in 1941, but was drafted to the military in January of that year instead.

Gedeon joined the Air Force and ended up flying missions as a captain in France. Gary Bedingfield chronicled the events of April 20 at Baseballlibrary.com:

On April 20, Gedeon piloted one of 30 B-26 Marauders that left Boreham to attack construction works at Bois de Esquerdes. It was the group’s thirteenth mission. Gedeon’s bomber was severely hit by flak over France, and co-pilot Lieutenant James Taaffe, who had been sitting alongside Gedeon when the airplane was hit, was the only crew member able to escape as the bomber plunged to the earth, carrying Gedeon and five others. He is buried at St Pol, France.

Gedeon was listed as MIA for more than a year. Finally, in May of 1945, his father received confirmation of Elmer’s death from a commanding officer who explained that his burial site had been located.

Gedeon was one of two major league players who were killed in action during World War II. The other was Harry O’Neill of the Philadelphia Athletics, who was killed at Iwo Jima in March 1945.


The Incredible Story of Bert Shepard

February 26, 2009

ED: This was originally published in Gameday Vol. 7 Issue 5.

On a late afternoon in August 1945 at Griffith Stadium, manager Ossie Bluege signaled for a left-handed pitcher to come out of the bullpen. The Washington Senators, predecessors to today’s Minnesota Twins, were in the midst of the second game of a doubleheader against the Boston Red Sox. It was the fourth consecutive day of twin bills for the weary Nats, who had just watched as their starting pitcher, the debuting Joe Cleary, allowed 12 runs in the fourth inning.

With the game out of reach and his team still in the pennant hunt, Bluege was not interested in using one of the tired but more experienced relievers. No doubt frustrated by Cleary’s performance, Bluege called on a 25-year-old to make his major league debut in a mop-up role.

It was a scenario that had played itself out many times over the years in baseball, but Bluege’s move caused a stir in the Washington crowd that had started to lose interest as their team fell further behind. The fans immediately woke up and began to applaud when they saw that Bluege was waving Bert Shepard to the mound.

Just 15 months earlier, Shepard was preparing for another baseball game. After playing minor league ball for a few years, but was drafted into military service in May of 1942. He applied for pilot training and became a member of the 55th Fighter Group stationed in England.

Shepard, like many ballplayers, continued to play as part of his service. He was the manager and star pitcher of the base’s team, which was set to play its first game on May 21, 1944. That morning, Shepard learned of a mission scheduled to bomb Berlin. With 33 missions in his P38 Lightning already under his belt, Shepard volunteered to fly his 34th, the first daytime raid over Berlin. Shepard figured that he would probably be back in time for the game.

As Shepard sped his plane towards the target that day, he was hit by German anti-aircraft fire. A sharp pain in his right foot was followed by numbness. More fire caused Shepard to lose control of his plane. The last memory he later recalled was crashing his plane to the ground about a mile before reaching the target site.

He awoke in a German hospital several days later to find that his right leg had been amputated, cut off between the knee and the ankle. Shepard later recalled: “I had been an athlete all of my life, and I promised myself the day I found my leg was off that I would continue to be one.”

Just weeks after the crash, Shepard had recovered enough to be moved to a prisoner-of-war camp in Germany. It was there that he received his first artificial leg, a crude instrument crafted by a fellow prisoner.

Shepard started to work himself into shape on his new leg. At first he simply ran on it, but slowly started to add pitching moves to his routine, including throwing, pivoting, and fielding bunts. His workouts began to catch the eye of the hospital staff, who would sometimes gather to watch Shepard practice.

After eight months in the German camp, Shepard returned to the United States as part of a prisoner exchange. He arrived at New York harbor in February of 1945. Shortly after, while at Walter Reed Hospital waiting for a new artificial leg, Shepard was summoned to the office of the Secretary of War, Robert Patterson. Patterson wanted to talk to some of the men who had just returned from German prison camps, and Shepard was selected at random. When Patterson learned that Shepard wanted to play professional baseball, he immediately contacted his friend, the owner of the Washington Senators, Clark Griffith.

Griffith, probably sensing a money-maker, invited Shepard to camp that spring. Three days after being fitted with a new leg, Bert Sheperd reported to the Nats’ spring training complex. Manager Ossie Bluege and the rest of the team found out that Shepard was an amputee only after seeing him getting dressed in the locker room before his first day on the field.

Regardless of how the rest of the team felt when they first saw the artificial leg, it became clear very quickly that Shepard was more than just a publicity stunt. He wowed players and media alike by showing his skills, most amazingly his ability to field sacrifice bunts. Shepard’s first appearance in an organized game came on April 1, when he pitched a scoreless inning against the Norfolk Naval Training Club.

Shepard started getting some interest from the New York Yankees, so Griffith eventually signed him as a baserunning coach and batting practice pitcher, but the owner made it clear that Shepard would have every opportunity to make the team as a player. He pitched several exhibition games in the spring and early summer, but hadn’t been called upon for a real major league game until Bluege signaled him into the game on August 4, 1945.

The rookie had little time to enjoy the moment because Cleary had left the bases loaded with two outs. The first batter he faced was George Metkovich, Boston’s center fielder. Metkovich worked the count full. With the runners on the move, Shepard threw a fastball by Metkovich to end the inning. The Washington crowd rewarded him with a standing ovation as he returned to the dugout.

Shepard lasted 5 1/3 innings that afternoon to finish the game. He held the Red Sox to just a single run on three hits with three strikeouts in the 15-4 Nats’ loss.

Though Shepard’s debut was a success, his time in the majors did not last long. With Washington still in the thick of a pennant race, Bluege relied on his veteran pitching staff down the stretch. When the pre-war stars began to return from service in 1946, it became clear that Shepard would not get his chance to play with Washington. He went on to have a decent career in the minors, and was a regular on the Army’s hospital visit circuit, but never again made a pitching appearance in the major leagues.

Bert Shepard passed away on June 16, 2008 at a California nursing home. He remains the only man to have pitched in the major leagues with an artificial leg.

Sources

Tellis, Richard Once Around the Bases: Bittersweet Memories of Only One Game in the Majors Triumph, 1998.

The Sporting News archives at Paper of Record (http://paperofrecord.com)

Gary Bedingfield’s Baseball in Wartime website (http://www.garybed.co.uk/index.htm)


1944: Baseball’s First Casualty of World War II

April 23, 2008

April 20, 1944

Elmer Gedeon was part of an athletic family from the beginning. His uncle Joe was a major league ballplayer who made a little history of his own by being the only player banned as a result of the Black Sox scandal that wasn’t actually a member of the team that threw the games.

Elmer followed in his uncle’s athletic footsteps, however, and became a multi-sport athlete at the University of Michigan. He lettered in three different sports, but his best was probably track and field, in which he was a two-time Big Ten Champion, helping his team to earn multiple National Championships. Elmer also played football and baseball in college.

Upon graduation in 1939, Gedeon signed with the Washington Nationals. After spending the first part of that season in the minors, he was called up in mid-September and appeared in five games for Washington. He spent the 1940 season playing in Charlotte, and though he received another September call to Washington he did not appear in any games. Gedeon was set to return to spring training in 1941, but was drafted to the military in January of that year instead.

Gedeon joined the Air Force and ended up flying missions as a captain in France. Gary Bedingfield chronicled the events of April 20 at Baseballlibrary.com:

On April 20, Gedeon piloted one of 30 B-26 Marauders that left Boreham to attack construction works at Bois de Esquerdes. It was the group’s thirteenth mission. Gedeon’s bomber was severely hit by flak over France, and co-pilot Lieutenant James Taaffe, who had been sitting alongside Gedeon when the airplane was hit, was the only crew member able to escape as the bomber plunged to the earth, carrying Gedeon and five others. He is buried at St Pol, France.

Gedeon was listed as MIA for more than a year. Finally, in May of 1945, his father received confirmation of Elmer’s death from a commanding officer who explained that his burial site had been located.

Gedeon was one of two major league players who were killed in action during World War II. The other was Harry O’Neill of the Philadelphia Athletics, who was killed at Iwo Jima in March 1945.


Integrating the Senators

January 21, 2008

When Jackie Robinson took the field in April of 1947, baseball had technically become integrated; but there were several owners who were slow to follow suit. Among them was Clark Griffith. When the Pirates, Cardinals, and Reds all played black players in April of 1954, that left five teams that had yet to field a black player. Along with the Senators, the Yankees, Red Sox, Tigers, and Phillies all had yet to integrate.

In Washington, Griffith had been getting some heat from local sportswriters, the most vocal of which was Sam Lacy. Lacy wrote for the Baltimore Afro-American and had been not-so-subtly calling for integration of the Washington franchise for years. Lacy was a Nats fan from early in his life, and recalled shagging balls in exchange for tickets to the games as a kid. As a writer for the Baltimore Afro-American, Lacy became an outspoken proponent of integration, particularly in regards to his favorite major league team.

In 1945, Lacy approached Griffith about signing Jackie Robinson. Lacy and another writer, Wendell Smith of the Pittsburgh Courier, had determined that the college educated Robinson was the ideal candidate to integrate major league baseball. Griffith quickly shot down the idea, claiming that baseball wasn’t ready for that.

In addition to Lacy, another local writer was openly calling for integration in his columns. Shirley Povich first wrote about integration and the Senators in 1937. Though perhaps less openly critical of the Griffiths than Lacy was, Povich was clearly an advocate for integration. Between the two of them, Lacy and Povich kept the pressure on in Washington well into the 1950’s.

Griffith’s resistance to integration may have been more financially driven than racist. The Homestead Grays were a huge draw in Washington (most of the time outdrawing Nats), and Griffith made a significant amount of money renting Griffith Stadium to the Negro League team. In fact, for many years rental revenue meant the difference between profit and loss for the franchise.

Whatever the reason, Griffith’s stubbornness continued, and in 1952 (five years after Robinson’s first game) he said “I will not sign a Negro for the Washington club merely to satisfy subversive persons. I would welcome a Negro on the Senators if he rated the distinction, if he belonged among major league players.”

Apparently, Griffith did not find a black player that rated high enough to belong until the spring of 1954, when four black players were among the invitees to spring training. The most promising of the group appeared to be outfielder Angel Scull. Scull, a native of Cuba, had been in the Washington organization for two years. His progress was such that most observers were sure that he would be the first black player to take the field in a Washington uniform, and the feeling was that it would happen in 1954. Not only had Scull endeared himself to management with his play, but he also filled a hole in right field.

Another Cuban, Carlos Paula, was also making waves in spring training. Paula was also a candidate for the wide open right field job, though he was a distant second to Scull, who was named the starter by manager Bucky Harris early in the spring.

Spring training 1954 did not pass without incident. While Paula and Scull were making headlines in Orlando, there were some problems at the club’s minor league camp in Winter Garden. Ossie Bluege, then director of the Nats’ minor leagues, received an ultimatum from a Winter Garden official saying that they wanted the “Cuban Negroes” out of town. At least seven players left camp, and would not return to Winter Garden even after the mayor made it clear that they were indeed welcome in the town.

As the spring progressed, Scull’s position as the right fielder to be became less of a certainty. His production fell off and he lost the starting job, though the plan was to bring him north as a reserve outfielder. Those plans changed as well as Scull’s slump continued. He was sold to Havana for $20,000, a sum that was surprising to many due to Scull’s horrible spring with the Nats. It was later suggested that Scull struggled due to an injury, but that was not reported at the time.

With Scull gone and Paula sent to the minor leagues due to the fact that he couldn’t hit a major league breaking ball, the integration of the Senators would have to wait. Paula spent the bulk of the 1954 season with Class A Charlotte of the Sally League. He performed very well (.309, 12 HR), but the team settled into dead last early in the season, so it was a surprise when the parent club called on Paula and four of his Charlotte teammates to join in early September. On September 6, 1954, five years and five months after Jackie Robinson first integrated baseball, Carlos Paula became the first black player to take the field in a Washington uniform.

Paula had very little success in nine games with the Nats, but returned as a regular in 1955, hitting .299/.332/.447 in 115 games.

Though the Washington Senators had finally integrated, there was still a long ways to go for the organization. Racism, whether overt or subtle, continued to be a key theme in the story of the franchise until Calvin Griffith sold the team in 1984.


The All-Franchise Team 1941-1950

January 17, 2008

Although there were a couple of winning seasons in the 1940’s, most notable 1945, overall the decade was not kind to the Nats.

C Jake Early 1941-1943, 1946, 1948-1949 14.8 WARP3
Maybe best known for the running commentary he did behind the plate, Early is one of those “what ifs” who missed his prime years due to the war.

1B Mickey Vernon 1941-1948, 1950 32.7 WARP3
Griffith thought he was expendable Vernon was traded away in 1948, but the fact that the Old Fox gave up a highly-regarded pitching prospect to get Vernon back tells the story.

2B Jerry Priddy 1943, 1946-1947 20.3 WARP3
Priddy was a very good acquisition in the middle of a decade that was mostly a revolving door at second base.

SS John Sullivan 1942-1944, 1947-1948 10.0 WARP3
The fact that Sullivan played so many games at short stop for the Nats is an indication of how weak the position was for them in the decade.

3B Eddie Yost 1944, 1946-1950 16.0 WARP3
Yost got a lot of playing time but didn’t really come into his own until the last year of the decade.

LF George Case 1941-1945, 1947 24.1 WARP3
One of the best base stealers in franchise history.

CF Stan Spence 1942-1944, 1946-1947 36.7 WARP3
A very consistent performer in center field, led the team’s hitters in WARP3 for the decade.

RF Buddy Lewis 1941, 1945-1947, 1949 24 WARP3
One of the team’s better hitters in the decade despite missing what might have been his prime years due to the war.

SP Ray Scarborough 1942-1943, 1946-1950 22.2 WARP3
His best season was 1948.

SP Dutch Leonard 1941-1946 23.2 WARP3
The knuckleballer was key to Washington’s success during the war.

SP Sid Hudson 1941-1942, 1946-1950 27.6 WARP3
Hudson’s W-L totals didn’t look very impressive, but he pitched well for some very bad teams.

SP Early Wynn 1941-1944, 1946-1948 24.3 WARP3
He went on to have a Hall of Fame career elsewhere.

RP Tom Ferrick 1947-1948 5.5 WARP3
Ferrick only played for two seasons, but was one of the few effective relievers to throw for Washington in the decade.


The Franchise 1950

January 16, 2008

1950 Washington Nationals
nats48to54.gif
Manager: Bucky Harris 23rd Season (14th with Washington 1054-1084-20)
67 W 87 L 1 T 690 RS 813 RA 5th AL 31.0 GB (New York 98-56-1)
4.45 RPG (AL = 5.04) 4.66 ERA (AL = 4.58)
.692 DER (6th AL)

All Stars (1) Cass Michaels

Franchise (1901-1950) 3568-3972-97; 8-11 WS

With the team and city reeling from a last place finish in 1949, Clark Griffith turned to a familiar face in an attempt to right the ship. It was announced in November that Bucky Harris would come on board to serve as Washington’s manager for the third time. The announcement didn’t come as a surprise for Washington fans, who had grown accustomed to seeing former players running their favorite team. In fact, since Griffith himself retired from managing in 1919, every single manager had at one time played for the Nats.

Harris had last been seen in the majors with the New York Yankees, where he won a World Series in 1947. He spent the 1949 season managing San Diego of the PCL, where he was the highest paid minor league manager. Harris singed a three-year deal with Washington, worth about $30,000, that included bonuses if attendance at Griffith Stadium went up.

Harris got right to work, and was credited with lighting a fire under the 80-year-old owner in an effort to rebuild the roster. He brought in players from the PCL (Irv Noren), pitchers from Cuba (Connie Marrero, Sandy Consuegra), and convinced Griffith to pull the trigger on a blockbuster early-season trade that brought 2B Cass Michaels and SP Bob Kuzava from the White Sox in exchange for Eddie Robinson, Al Kozar, and the previously untouchable Ray Scarborough. After talking up young pitching prospect Dick Weik in the papers for the entire spring and early summer, Harris sent him to Cleveland to get veteran and Washington favorite Mickey Vernon back.

The combination of Harris’ drive to build a team and Griffith’s rare willingness to dip into his pocketbook (brought about by an eighth place embarrassment the year before) equaled improvement in Washington. Though they didn’t have a winning year in 1950, Washington could proudly say it was not in the cellar anymore.

Roster/Stats
Bold = Player new to Washington in 1950

C Al Evans .235/.309/.304 2 HR -2.2 BFW 3 WS 5 FRAR 0.1 WARP3
This was Evans last season with Washington, the club he started with as a backup catcher in 1939. After playing 12 game with the Red Sox in 1951, Evans will retire with a career .250/.332/.326 line with 13 HR and a career 56 FRAR as a catcher and 11.0 WARP3.

1B Mickey Vernon .306/.404/.459 9 HR 1.4 BFW 13 WS 16 FRAR 5.0 WARP3
Less than two years after trading the veteran first baseman away, Clark Griffith sends pitcher Dick Weik to Cleveland in exchange for a struggling Vernon (.189/.284/.189 in 28 games with the Indians). Vernon’s early season struggles made him very expendable for Cleveland, who had rookie Luke Easter playing fairly well at first base through the first few months of the season. The deal allowed Harris to move rookie Irv Noren to the outfield where he was sorely needed. Vernon had a good season following the trade, and would remain the regular first baseman for Washington until the mid-1950’s.

2B Cass Michaels .250/.345/.322 4 HR -0.2 BFW 9 WS 26 FRAR 3.3 WARP3
Michaels was the best player that came from Chicago in the blockbuster mid-season trade with the White Sox. It was said that Bucky Harris, and old second baseman himself, thought that was the most important position on the diamond. He convinced Griffith to go through with the deal despite the fact that the “Old Fox” wasn’t overly enthused with the package that Chicago was offering. Michaels broke into the league with the White Sox at the age of 17 in 1943. He was a regular by 1945, and an All Star in 1949 with the Sox, and in 1950 with the Nats.

SS Sam Dente .239/.286/.299 2 HR -3.6 BFW 7 WS 28 FRAR 1.1 WARP3
Dente was briefly moved to second base in the early months of the 1950 season, but moved back to his familiar position when the club acquired Cass Michaels to play second.

3B Eddie Yost .295/.440/.405 11 HR 2.7 BFW 24 WS 12 FRAR 7.0 WARP3
Yost had been a solid player for Washington over the past several seasons, but he emerged as one of the better lead off men in the league in 1950. He set a franchise records for walks in a season with 141, easily out pacing Buddy Myer’s 102 from 1934. He was second in AL on-base percentage behind only Lary Doby who reached at a .442 pace.

LF Gil Coan .303/.359/.429 7 HR -0.4 BFW 11 WS 12 FRAR 3.3 WARP3
Early in the season, Gil Coan was batting just .235 when he collided with Owen Friend of the Browns in a play at second base. Coan sat out about a month and a half with a fractured skull, but it seemed to do the trick. When he returned he slowly brought his average up with an incredible month-long streak in which he batted over .400 and mixed in a 14-game hitting streak. Coan attributed his hot streak to the coaching of Clyde Milan, who suggested he crouch more at the plate.

CF Irv Noren .295/.375/.459 14 HR 1.8 BFW 22 WS 21 FRAR 6.5 WARP3
Noren was purchased from the Dodger organization where he never got a sniff of the big leagues due to the talent of the Dodgers in the late 1940’s. The left-handed hitter immediately became an everyday player in Washington with a rookie effort that actually got him some attention in the MVP voting.

RF Sam Mele .274/.351/.432 12 HR -0.2 BFW 11 WS 8 FRAR 3.2 WARP3
Mele was primariy an outfielder, but he also filled in for Vernon at first base when Mickey was injured. Mele came from Boston in the 1949 trade that sent Walt Masterson to the Red Sox. He had some very good numbers in his rookie season of 1947, but tailed of a bit after that, making him expendable to the Red Sox. His 1950 numbers would become the standard for Mele, who became a journeyman player with several stops in the 1950’s.

OF Bud Stewart .267/.348/.370 4 HR -0.9 BFW 9 WS 9 FRAR 2.1 WARP3
At the age of 34 Stewart served as a fill in during several injury stints for Washington outfielders. He will be traded to the White Sox in the off season.
SP Sid Hudson 14-14 4.09 ERA 1.51 WHIP 0.9 PW 15 WS 5.9 WARP3
Sid Hudson was one of the few returning veterans on a pitching staff that was overhauled by Bucky Harris and Clark Griffith. Early in the season, Bucky Harris convinced Hudson to try throwing underhanded. It was the second major shift in delivery for Hudson, who converted to a side-armed throw after he hurt his shoulder in the war. Though the numbers don’t appear overly impressive on their face, this is probably Hudson’s best performance since the 1941 season.
SP Bob Kuzava 8-7 3.95 ERA 1.49 WHIP 0.5 PW 10 WS 3.7 WARP3
Kuzava earned the nickname “Sarge” because of the rank he achieved while serving in World War II. Upon his return, he toiled in the Cleveland system for a few years before finally getting his shot with the White Sox in 1949. Kuzava made the most of his chance, putting together a very nice season and finishing fourth in rookie of the year voting. He came to Washington in the big mid-season trade and impressed as a starter down the stretch. Kuzava was traded to the Yankees in the early portion of the 1951 season.

SP Connie Marrero 6-10 4.50 ERA 1.41 WHIP -0.1 PW 8 WS 3.3 WARP3
During Bucky Harris’ time as manager of the Yankees, the team took a trip to Cuba in 1947 to play some exhibitions against Cuban All Stars. It was there that a veteran pitcher named Conrado Marrero shut down the World Champions 2-1. Harris didn’t forget that game and brought in Marrero as a 38-year-old rookie in 1950. Marrero stayed with the Nats until he was 42-years-old and had a few very good seasons.

SP Sandy Consuegra 7-8 4.40 ERA 1.52 WHIP 0.0 PW 8 WS 2.8 WARP3
Consuegra was another product of Cuba who made a splash in his first taste of the major leagues. On June 10, Consuegra made his debut by shutting out the White Sox 6-0 in a shortened game. The 29-year-old was known for his curveball, and was converted to a relief pitcher in 1951.

SP/RP Joe Haynes 7-5 5.84 ERA 1.67 WHIP -1.2 PW 3 WS 0.9 WARP3
Haynes showed versatility in 1950 by pitching both as a starter and in relief, but wasn’t particularly effective even though he managed to win seven games for his adopted father-in-law’s team.

RP Mickey Harris 5-9 4.78 ERA 1.42 WHIP -0.2 PW 9 WS 3.5 WARP3
Harris led the AL in pitching appearances with 53 and, though saves weren’t counted yet, he led the league with 15 of those.

RP Jim Pearce 2-1 6.04 ERA 1.68 WHIP -0.5 PW 1 WS 0.4 WARP3
This is the only major league season in which Pearce appeared in more than four games.

1950 World Series
The New York Yankees won their 13th World Championship with a four-game sweep over the Philadelphia Phillies. The Yanks did it with pitching, allowing the Phillies just five runs over the course of the Series.


The Franchise 1949

January 8, 2008

1949 Washington Nationals
nats48to54.gif
Manager: Joe Kuhel 2nd Season (2nd with Washington 106-201-1)
50 W 104 L 584 RS 868 RA 8th AL 47.0 GB (New York 97-57-1)
3.79 RPG (AL = 4.67) 5.10 ERA (AL = 4.20)
.695 DER (7th AL)

All Stars (1) Eddie Robinson

Franchise (1901-1949) 3501-3885-96; 8-11 WS

Shirley Povich summed up the 1949 season in a September 21, 1949 column in The Sporting News.

For the first time in 38 years since he moved in to Washington, Clark Griffith is a highly-embarrassed man. Things may have been worse with him, but his best friends can’t remember when.

There’s a rising clamor against the Griffith regime in this American League city. That’s understandable. After two successive seventh-place finishes, the Senators are now a horrible eighth, with little prospect they will emerge from the cellar.

In the point of victories, it’s the worst Washington club since 1909 and on all counts it is also qualified for that negative superlative. It had won only 10 of 50 games through September 13. Worst of all, there is dim prospect of improvement next season.

Never were the Nats’ fortunes at such low ebb. Griffith is in no position to hold out any promise to Washington fans, except that he won’t quit trying. The club is solvent enough, financially, but its fledgling farm system has produced nothing of importance, and the Washington owner does not know where his next good ballplayer will come from.

As badly as the season ended, it looked at the beginning as though Washington may be a contender. After a 1-7 start, the Nats rebounded and found themselves at 24-19 after play on June 3. It didn’t last long, however, and by the All Star break Washington was 33-42, 16 games out of first place. The tailspin continued and the team claimed their home in last place by the end of August.

Just hours after the season ended, Clark Griffith announced that Joe Kuhel’s contract would not be renewed, and that Washington would be looking for a new manager for the 1950 season.

Roster/Stats
Bold = Player new to Washington in 1949

C Al Evans .271/.369/.346 2 HR -1.1 BFW 9 WS 5 FRAR 2.2 WARP3
1949 was the 32-year-old catcher’s busiest season in the majors. He appeared in 109 games, the only season in which he played in more than 100.

1B Eddie Robinson .294/.381/.459 18 HR 1.0 BFW 18 WS 0 FRAR 4.9 WARP3
Robinson came to Washington in the deal that sent Mickey Vernon and Early Wynn to Cleveland, and was essentially supposed to replace Vernon at first. Robinson had a good year for the World Series Champions in 1948, but was more than happy to leave Cleveland due to differences with manager Lou Boudreau. In comparison, Vernon’s numbers in 1949 with Cleveland: .291/.357/.443 18 HR 34 FRAR 8.0 WARP3. Though Robinson’s offense was slightly better than Vernon’s, it was in the field that Vernon distinguished himself. While Robinson garnered MVP votes (he finished 18th in the AL) and made the All Star team, it was ultimately Vernon who would be the long-term solution at first base for the Nats. Robinson went on to have his best years with the White Sox in 1951 and 1952. He bounced around the American League until retiring at the age of 36 following the 1956 season. By the time Robinson’s career was over, he had played for seven of the eight American League teams, including stints with the A’s in both Philadelphia (1953) and Kansas City (1956).

2B Al Kozar .269/.321/.357 4 HR -1.4 BFW 6 WS 9 FRAR 1.7 WARP3
Kozar was expected to improve on his rookie numbers, but didn’t significantly. Feeling that Kozar’s promise might have been a bit overstated, Griffith unloaded him in 1950. He played 20 games with the White Sox before his major league career was over.

SS Sam Dente .273/.309/.332 1 HR -2.5 BFW 8 WS 35 FRAR 4.0 WARP3
Griffith sent relief pitcher Tom Ferrick, infielder John Sullivan, and $25,000 to the Browns in exchange for Dente. It was a reunion of sorts for Dente and his double play partner Kozar, who had played together in the Red Sox organization in the mid-1940’s. Dente was initially a fan favorite in Washington, but as the team started struggling Dente’s numbers went south as did his popularity.

3B Eddie Yost .253/.383/.391 9 HR 0.7 BFW 15 WS 14 FRAR 4.6 WARP3
Yost broke his leg on June 9th, and his time out of the Washington lineup coincided with a significant drop in the standings. At 22, he may have been the best hitter on the team. Yost’s ability to draw walks started to emerge in 1949. He drew 91 free passes in 531 plate appearances.

LF Bud Stewart .284/.368/.425 8 HR -0.3 BFW 13 WS -1 FRAR 2.7 WARP3
The 33-year-old’s numbers were pretty consistent with his performance a year earlier. He emerged as a fan favorite in Washington, well loved because of his reputation for hustling on every play.

CF Clyde Vollmer .253/.335/.391 14 HR -0.8 BFW 11 WS 17 FRAR 3.7 WARP3
Griffith sent Cardin Gillenwater to Cincinnati in exchange for the 27-year-old. Vollmer made a splash in his major league debut in 1942 when he hit the first pitch he saw over the fence. Fast start aside, Vollmer did not get much playing time in the majors until the trade to Washington. He was a regular in the outfield in 1949 after spending most of his time in 1948 destroying International League pitching. Vollmer’s Washington career was short lived, as he was sold early on in the 1950 season to Boston, where he had the best years of his career.

RF Buddy Lewis .245/.355/.366 3 HR -0.3 BFW 6 WS 10 FRAR 2.3 WARP3
Clark Griffith’s ability to woo (and a $16,000 salary) convinced the 32-year-old Lewis to put on a Washington uniform for one more year after missing all of 1948. After initially earning the starting job out of spring training, Lewis struggled and was relegated to the bench for the final months of the season, though he did bat .400 as a pinch hitter. Though it was reported that Griffith considered Lewis an important part of the team, the contract sent to Lewis for the 1950 season included a drastic cut in salary. Lewis claimed that was not the reason he retired, and cited “tired legs” when he announced that his career was over in February of 1950. Career stats (11 seasons, all with Washington): .297/.368/.420 110 OPS+ 71 HR 55.1 WARP3.

UT Sherry Robertson .251/.329/.401 11 HR -0.6 BFW 9 WS 8 FRAR 2.6 WARP3
Though Griffith’s nephew had been with the team for seven seasons by 1949, this was his busiest year. Through the first six, Washington fans had not been kind to Robertson, who was routinely booed in his rare appearances. That all changed in 1949, however, as a two-week stretch in late summer in which Robertson improved his batting average by 20 points won the fans over. According to The Sporting News, Robertson was neck-and-neck with Eddie Robinson when to came to the race for most popular Nat. Robertson ended 1940 with 420 plate appearances, more than 100 more than his second best season.

OF Gil Coan .218/.278/.307 3 HR -3.1 BFW 2 WS 1 FRAR -0.7 WARP3
Coan was a highly regarded rookie when he came to Washington in 1946 at the age of 24. His first season could only be tagged as a flop. After playing regularly in 1948, Coan was determined to shed that label in 1949. He got off to great start, and was considered one of Washington’s best hitters in the early months of the season. Unfortunately for Coan, his production fell sharply as the season went on, and he finished with worse numbers than he did the year before.

SP Sid Hudson 8-17 4.22 ERA 1.56 WHIP 0.2 PW 10 WS 5.8 WARP3
Most of Sid Hudson’s 1949 numbers indicated he was about a league-average starter. He win-loss record was more a reflection of the poor offensive support he got throughout the season. When asked about his team’s poor performance late in the season, Hudson said “What’s the use of worrying yourself to death about it?, you go out and do your best and what happens simply happens.”

SP Ray Scarborough 13-11 4.60 ERA 1.46 WHIP -0.7 PW 9 WS 4.7 WARP3
Almost a year to the day after his start set the Boston Red Sox back in their 1948 pennant hopes, Scarborough did it again, this time with a four-hitter in a 2-1 victory over the Sox on September 28. The loss dropped Boston back into a first place tie with the Yankees, ultimately a race that the Sox would lose by one game four days later. Scarborough was traded to the White Sox in the middle of the 1950 season, ending his seven years in Washington.

SP Paul Calvert 6-17 5.43 ERA 1.62 WHIP -2.6 PW 3 WS 2.2 WARP3
Calvert had seen some major league time with the Cleveland Indians, but had only started four games between 1942 and 1945. After playing with Toronto in the International League, the Nats signed Calvert to be a starting pitcher. The French-Canadian was considered an odd player because he liked talk about current events and philosophy as much as he liked to talk about baseball. Calvert’s performance in 1949 was such that Griffith let him go at the end of the season.

SP Mickey Harris 2-12 5.16 ERA 1.60 WHIP -1.0 PW 3 WS 2.2 WARP3
The lefty came from Boston in a mid-season trade that also brought Sam Mele to Washington. To acquire the two players, Griffith sent Walt Masterson to the Red Sox. Harris will last a few seasons in Washington, mostly as a relief pitcher.

SP Dick Weik 3-12 5.38 ERA 1.90 WHIP -1.4 PW 2 WS 2.3 WARP3
Weik was a prospect that had an impressive fastball that he had trouble controlling. Still, the raw materials he possessed made him an attractive prospect, and Griffith was able to trade him to Cleveland in the middle of the 1950 season to get Mickey Vernon back in Washington. Weik was with Cleveland for half a season and pitched only 26 innings before he was traded to Detroit where he pitched fewer than 40 innings in two seasons. Vernon, on the other hand, was one of the top first basemen in the league and stuck with Washington through the 1955 season.

SP Mickey Haefner 5-5 4.42 ERA 1.51 WHIP 0.0 PW 5 WS 2.5 WARP3
Haefner was one of the more reliable starters on the team, and was therefore an asset to be traded in 1950.

RP Dick Welteroth 2-5 7.36 ERA 2.06 WHIP -2.1 PW 0 WS -0.2 WARP3
RP Joe Haynes 2-9 6.26 ERA 1.67 WHIP -2.1 PW 0 WS 0.4 WARP3
RP Lloyd Hittle 5-7 4.21 ERA 1.65 WHIP -0.3 PW 5 WS 2.4 WARP3
Griffith re acquired his adopted son-in-law Haynes after the 1948 season. Just two years removed from his best season in the majors in 1947, Haynes was a member of one of the worst collections of relief pitchers in the league.

1949 World Series
After an exciting AL pennant race, Casey Stengel’s New York Yankees proved that their dynasty was not over with a 4-1 victory over the Dodgers in the World Series.


The Franchise 1948

January 3, 2008

1948 Washington Nationals
nats48to54.gif

Manager: Joe Kuhel 1st Season (1st with Washington 56-97-1)
56 W 97 L 1 T 578 RS 796 RA 7th AL 40 GB (Cleveland 97-58-1)
3.75 RPG (AL = 4.73) 4.65 ERA (AL = 4.29)
.699 DER (6th AL)

All Stars (2) Walt Masterson, Mickey Vernon

Franchise (1901-1948) 3451-3781-96; 8-11 WS

In Joe Kuhel’s first year as manager, the Washington Nationals finished with their worst record since 1909. Similar to 1947, Washington had little-to-no run scoring capability in the lineup. Unlike the previous year, the 1948 pitching staff was about as bad. Still, Kuhel was given high marks by Clark Griffith at the end of his first season. Griffith liked the hustle and felt that Kuhel did a good job managing the players he was given.

Roster/Stats
Bold = Player new to Washington in 1948

C Jake Early .220/.322/.276 1 HR -0.7 BFW 7 WS 16 FRAR 1.8 WARP3
C Al Evans .259/.367/.338 2 HR 0.0 BFW 8 WS 13 FRAR 2.4 WARP3
With the catching situation a big question mark into spring training, Clark Griffith made a cash deal with the Browns to being back a familiar face. Jake Early had played in Washington from 1939-1946, but was traded to the Browns after the ’46 season. Among those most excited for Early’s return was coach Rick Ferrell, who was getting pressure to end his retirement from playing to catch again. The season started with Early backing up Evans, but those roles reversed quickly. Though not known for their bats, the pair combined to virtually shut down the running games of every other team in the American League.

1B Mickey Vernon .242/.310/.332 3 HR -2.4 BFW 7 WS 29 FRAR 3.7 WARP3
Vernon’s season-long slump of 1947 continued into 1948 where he had his worst season as a professional. Not surprisingly, Vernon found himself on the trading block, and was sent to Cleveland in December. He’ll regain his form in 1949, and ultimately return to Washington the following year.

2B Al Kozar .250/.327/.326 1 HR -3.2 BFW 9 WS 21 FRAR 3.3 WARP3
Kozar came with Leon Culberson in the trade that sent Stan Spence to the Red Sox. Culberson was a utility player who didn’t see much playing time with Washington, but Kozar was the jewel of the deal from Griffith’s perspective. He never advanced to the major league club in Boston due to the presence of Bobby Doerr, but was considered a top-flight prospect at second base. Kozar got his chance as a regular with Washington in 1948.

SS Mark Christman .259/.303/.318 1 HR -4.0 BFW 4 WS 13 FRAR 1.2 WARP3
After serving as the starting short stop in 1947, Christman was set to back up John Sullivan in 1948. Along with the demotion for 1948, Christman was forced to take a $1,000 pay cut by Clark Griffith who said he wasn’t going to pay that much for someone who would just sit on the bench. The Sullivan experiment ended abruptly when he didn’t take the field opening day in Washington due to the boos from the bleachers. While Christman was a solid glove, Sullivan proved to be anything but, and had kicked balls around throughout the exhibition season. The plan was to put Sullivan back into the lineup for the first road trip of the season, but he never did hit, and was replaced by Christman almost immediately. Christman’s playing time will be cut drastically in 1949, his final season in the majors.

3B Eddie Yost .249/.349/.357 2 HR -1.7 BFW 14 WS 17 FRAR 4.2 WARP3
The 21-year-old became a legitimate major league third baseman in 1948. He’ll continue to improve in 1949.

LF Gil Coan .232/.298/.333 7 HR -2.1 BFW 10 WS 24 FRAR 3.1 WARP3
In his first full major league season, Coan used his speed to finish second in AL stolen bases with 23. Unfortunately, he didn’t really get on base enough to take full advantage of his speed.

CF Carden Gillenwater .244/.358/.357 3 HR -0.3 BFW 7 WS 0 FRAR 1.1 WARP3
CF Junior Wooten .256/.324/.322 1 HR -0.6 BFW 6 WS 6 FRAR 1.0 WARP3
Wooten and Gillenwater split time in center and performed almost equally poorly. Neither played at the major league level in 1949 or beyond.

RF Bud Stewart .279/.361/.439 7 HR 0.1 BFW 15 WS 7 FRAR 3.7 WARP3
Stewart came in an early season trade with the New York Yankees. He had played as a backup from 1941-1942 in Pittsburgh, but Washington presented him with his first chance to be a regular after being out of baseball during the war. After getting off to a slow start, Stewart established himself as one of the better hitters on the team.

SP Early Wynn 8-19 5.82 ERA 1.67 WHIP -3.3 PW 3 WS 1.5 WARP3
After coming into 1947 a bit overweight, Wynn earned a bonus by reporting in the spring of 1948 at the weight Griffith had requested, 195 lbs., rather than the 225 he reported at a year earlier. Wynn started the season with a horrible outing on opening day against the Yankees, and never really seemed to recover. The 28-year-old lefty had his worst season as a professional and partially blamed his performance on the weight loss, feeling that he wasn’t able to get as much velocity on his fast ball. His poor performance combined with the seemingly constant squabbling with management over his weight made Wynn a prime candidate for a trade at the end of the season. He was packaged with Vernon and sent to the Indians in exchange for three players. Indians owner Bill Veeck immediately got Wynn on the phone and told him to “eat his head off all winter” and report to camp with at least 20 extra pounds. The strategy worked, and Wynn went on the have a Hall of Fame career. In his eight seasons with the Nats, Wynn won 72 games, lost 87 and had an ERA of 3.94.

SP Sid Hudson 4-16 5.88 ERA 1.78 WHIP -2.2 PW 2 WS 2.2 WARP3
Wynn was not the only Washington pitcher to run into problems in 1948. Sid Hudson was forced to change to a sidearm delivery due to shoulder pain. After a very good start, Hudson struggled the rest of the season.

SP Walt Masterson 8-15 3.83 ERA 1.56 WHIP 1.2 PW 13 WS 5.9 WARP3
Though he had a poor record, Masterson actually did not have all that bad of a season in 1948. In fact, the 28-year-old was the starting pitcher for the American League in the 1948 All Star Game.

SP Ray Scarborough 15-8 2.82 ERA 1.28 WHIP 3.4 PW 18 WS 8.1 WARP3
Scarborough bucked the trend and actually had his best season as a professional in 1948. He was in the middle of a major umpiring controversy on July 20 in a game against Cleveland. Scarborough spent much of the game complaining about umpire Bill McGowan’s strike zone. Tired of the constant complaining, McGowan tossed his ball/strike indicator to Scarborough, starting an ordeal that led to several Washington coaches being ejected, and ultimately getting McGowan suspended for 10 games.

SP Mickey Haefner 5-13 4.02 ERA 1.44 WHIP 0.0 PW 7 WS 3.2 WARP3
The last of the four war time knuckle ballers on the Washington roster, Haefner was sold to the White Sox in July of 1949.

RP Tom Ferrick 2-5 4.15 ERA 1.53 WHIP 0.2 PW 6 WS 2.5 WARP3
After the season Ferrick was traded to the Browns along with John Sullivan in exchange for Sam Dente.

RP Forrest Thompson 6-10 3.84 ERA 1.43 WHIP 0.7 PW 10 WS 3.9 WARP3
The 30-yea-old lefty appeared in nine games in 1949 then was out of the majors.
RP Milo Candini 2-3 5.15 ERA 1.69 WHIP 0.0 PW 5 WS 1.8 WARP3
This is Candini’s last full season with Washington. In May of 1949 he was traded to the Pacific Coast League, though he would resurface with the Phillies after being drafted away in the Rule V draft.

RP Dick Welteroth 2-1 5.51 ERA 1.88 WHIP -0.5 PW 2 WS 0.5 WARP3
Welteroth was signed in 1945 at the age of 17, when he was too young to enter the draft. He finally made the majors in 1948.

RP Earl Harrist 3-3 4.60 ERA 1.76 WHIP -0.3 PW 3 WS 1.0 WARP3
Harrist was the first AL pitcher to face Larry Doby in 1947 when he was with the White Sox. Griffith sent Marino Pieretti to the Sox to acquire Harrist in the middle of the 1948 season. His career with Washington was short, and he was sold to the Yankees in September.

1948 World Series
One of the most exciting AL Pennant races in history ended with the Cleveland Indians defeating the Boston Red Sox in a one game playoff to earn the right to play the Boston Braves in the World Series. Cleveland won its first series since 1920 by taking the series in six games.


The Franchise 1947

December 20, 2007

1947 Washington Nationals
logo36-47.gif
Manager: Ossie Bluege 5th Season (5th with Washington 375-394-3)
64 W 90 L 496 RS 675 RA 7th AL 33 GB (New York 97-57-1)
3.22 RPG (AL = 4.14) 3.97 ERA (AL = 3.71)
.697 DER (8th AL)

All Stars (3) Buddy Lewis, Walt Masterson, Stan Spence

Franchise (1901-1947) 3395-3684-95; 8-11 WS

Washington had never been known as an offensive juggernaut. Playing in spacious Griffith Stadium has tended to take the pop out of the bat, and even when the team has been successful in its 46 years of existence, it has typically been because of Hall of Fame pitching. 1947 may have been a new offensive low, even for the lowly Nats. The team managed to score just over three runs a game in a league that averaged better than four. The team as a whole batted .241/.312/.321 compared to the AL average .256/.333/.364. The team was shut out 18 times, and there were a few stretches of more than a week in which the Washington offense didn’t manage to score any more than two runs in a game.

That the team managed to win even 64 games is a testament to the starting pitchers, who somehow held things together without any run support. In fact, it was often the pitching staff that provided the offense, knocking in 33 runs as a staff, good enough for fifth on the team.

It was to be expected that the frustration would boil over, and it did so late in August. Burton Hawkins, a young sportswriter who covered the Nats for the Washington Sun, penned an article on a slow news day suggesting that there was some dissension in the Washington clubhouse. The piece centered around manager Ossie Bluege, who Hawkins said had lost the confidence of his team. Hawkins reported that several players were thinking of quitting due to their feelings about the manager.

In a pretty transparent PR move, all of the Washington players signed statements indicating they were behind the manager. Still, Bluege wasn’t going to let the young sportswriter simply slide by. In a team clubhouse meeting, Bluege called Hawkins out and reportedly punched him twice before they were separated by onlookers.

Bluege finished the season but resigned as manager early in October. He stayed with Washington as the farm director.

Roster/Stats
Bold = Player new to Washington in 1947

C Al Evans .241/.303/.304 2 HR -1.0 BFW 7 WS 14 FRAR 1.7 WARP3
Evans was never known for his bat, but this was a down year for him at the plate. He will rebound and be back to his career averages in 1948.

1B Mickey Vernon .265/.320/.388 7 HR -1.4 BFW 15 WS 0 FRAR 2.7 WARP3
After exploding back into the majors in 1946, Vernon returned to earth quite a bit in 1947. The 29-year-old was down in almost every offensive category, and would continue to fall in 1948. Vernon’s troubles in 1947 were a microcosm of the Nats’ troubles as a team. Vernon’s struggles through the season were constant fodder for local and national sportswriters, who all had their suggestions for the 1946 batting champion. As the season wore on, and Vernon continued slumping, the buzz turned from ideas for correction to trade rumors.

2B Jerry Priddy .214/.301/.283 3 HR -1.8 BFW 9 WS 31 FRAR 3.4 WARP3
Priddy was one of the instigators in the Bluege affair, and was likely the source for Hawkins’ article. After a tough year at the plate, Griffith wanted Priddy out of Washington, and he did so when Priddy was apparently traded to the Browns in November. Washington was to get Johnny Berardino, an infielder with a light bat. Berardino wasn’t interested in moving to Washington, however, and announced that he was going to retire from baseball in order to devote full time to his movie career. The deal was nullified by Commissioner Chandler, and just as quickly Berardino changed his mind and decided to return to St. Louis. Priddy joined him later in the off season when he was sold to the Browns.

SS Mark Christman .222/.287/.281 1 HR -2.2 BFW 6 WS 27 FRAR 2.6 WARP3
Christman was a 33-year-old veteran by the time he came to Washington, and spent two years as the starting short stop. His older brother was NFL quarterback and later announcer Paul Christman.

3B Eddie Yost .238/.314/.292 0 HR -2.7 BFW 7 WS 1 FRAR 0.4 WARP3
Yost played a handful of games with the Nats as a teenager in the mid-1940’s, but this was his first full season. After spring training, it was agreed by both Griffth and Yost that the best move would be to send the 20-year-old to the minor leagues. It was discovered, however, that such a move would violate the GI Bill of Rights. Yost had served as a sailor, and was therefore entitled under the Bill to work for the Washington Baseball Club through July 15th of that year. Griffith tried to get around the law, but in the end it proved impossible. As it turned out, Cecil Travis, the opening day starter at third base, hadn’t recovered from his war injuries enough to be effective, so the club was looking for someone to fill in. Yost performed well enough in his first few days that he was the starter for the rest of the season, and considered by many the best rookie player in the league in 1947. This would be the last season in which Yost would strikeout more than he walked (45 BB, 57 K) and would go on to become famous for his ability to draw the free pass.

LF Joe Grace .248/.348/.359 3 HR -0.2 BFW 7 WS 4 FRAR 1.8 WARP3
Grace came from the Browns in a mid-season trade in 1946. This would be his last season in the majors.

CF Stan Spence .279/.378/.441 16 HR 2.5 BFW 25 WS 16 FRAR 7.1 WARP3
While the rest of the Washington offense was just about non-existant, Stan Spence had another very good season with the bat. He led the team in almost every offensive category, and was elected to his fourth All Star Game. Spence was traded to Boston and got his first real chance to play for a contending team. Though Washington didn’t get a whole lot in return for their best hitter, the move turned out alright because Spence was out of the majors within two years.

RF Buddy Lewis .261/.330/.342 6 HR -1.3 BFW 10 WS 6 FRAR 2.5 WARP3
Lewis was among the Washington hitters who took a huge nosedive from their 1946 performance. Late in the year Lewis injured his hip in a collision with Spence. The injury was enough for Lewis to announce his retirement. After sitting out the entire 1948 season, Griffith talked one of his favorite players into returning for the 1949 season. After another disappointing year, Lewis retired for good before the 1950 season.

UT Sherry Robertson .233/.318/.301 1 HR -1.4 BFW 4 WS 1 FRAR 0.4 WARP3
On June 8 the Nats’ pitching staff was able to hold the White Sox scoreless for 17 innings to give its anemic offense a chance to win the game in the 18th inning. With Al Evans on third thanks to a triple, Clark Griffith’s nephew Sherry Robertson hit a sacrifice fly for the only run in the fourth 18 inning, 1-0 game in history. The White Sox and the Nationals had been involved in one of the other 18 inning 1-0 games as well when Walter Johnson shut out the Sox on May 15, 1918.

IF Cecil Travis .216/.273/.260 1 HR -1.7 BFW 1 WS 7 FRAR 0.0 WARP3
It was Griffith’s hope that Travis could overcome his wartime injury to be the Nats’ starting third baseman in 1947, but it was not to be. After a poor season, Travis retired, leaving behind a .314/.370/.416 line in his 12-year career spent entirely in Washington.

SP Walt Masterson 12-16 3.13 ERA 1.23 WHIP 1.7 PW 21 WS 8.5 WARP3
During that June 8th 18-inning game, one of the forgotten heroes was Walt Masterson. Though he didn’t figure in the decision, Masterson shut out the White Sox for 16 innings, allowing just seven singles in the equivalent of more than a game and a half of work. That performance was seen as a coming out party for the young pitcher who was already a veteran of seven seasons. 1947 was by far his best season to that point. He still managed to walk a large number of hitters (97 on the year – sixth in the AL in that category), but was able to show enough control to earn his first All Star Game appearance.

SP Early Wynn 17-15 3.64 ERA 1.38 WHIP 0.9 PW 20 WS 7.3 WARP3
Wynn came into training camp about 20 pounds overweight after, in the words of Shirley Povich, “indulging too happily in his off season vacation and lazing about happily in Florida.” He got off to a slow start but quickly straightened things out as his weight dropped to where Clark Griffith wanted it in early June. In addition to helping the team as a pitcher, Wynn may have been the Nats’ best hitter next to Spence. At one point in the season manager Bluege, in an attempt to create some spark in the lineup, placed Wynn sixth in the batting order. Wynn finished the season batting .275/.281/.375 with a couple of home runs.

SP Mickey Haefner 10-14 3.64 ERA 1.45 WHIP 0.1 PW 13 WS 5.4 WARP3
The 34-year-old knuckleballer pitched fewer than 200 innings for the first time since 1943. His workload will continue to get lighter and lighter until he retires at the age of 37.

SP Ray Scarborough 6-13 3.41 ERA 1.44 WHIP 0.0 PW 10 WS 4.0 WARP3
Scarborough developed a curve ball after the war, and the results started showing in 1947. He is just a year away from his best season.

SP Sid Hudson 6-9 5.60 ERA 1.61 WHIP -2.0 PW 2 WS 1.4 WARP3
Another pitcher that could hit better than most of the regular lineup, Hudson batted .308/.325/.333 in 1947. On May 11, Hudson doubled over in pain after throwing a pitch against the Athletics. He pulled himself out of the game and struggled with a pulled muscle in his side for the better part of two months, unable to throw his bread and butter pitch, the fastball. When he was not injured, Hudson showed flashes of dominance in 1947, and would stay healthy long enough to put up some good numbers in the next couple of years.

SP Bobo Newsom 4-6 4.09 ERA 1.63 WHIP -0.4 PW 4 WS 1.5 WARP3
Dubbed the Marco Polo of pitchers, Newsom started the season with Washington but was sold to the Yankees on July 11th. It was the journeyman’s eighth different major league team. He will add a ninth when he plays for the Giants in 1948.

RP Tom Ferrick 1-7 3.15 ERA 1.28 WHIP 0.6 PW 7 WS 3.0 WARP3
Ferrick, a 32-year-old veteran purchased from the Browns in the off season, instantly brought some credibility to one of the worst bullpens in recent memory.

RP Milo Candini 3-4 5.17 ERA 1.51 WHIP -0.9 PW 1 WS 1.1 WARP3
RP Scott Cary 3-1 5.93 ERA 1.70 WHIP -0.9 PW 0 WS 0.1 WARP3
RP Marino Pieretti 2-4 4.21 ERA 1.73 WHIP -0.5 PW 0 WS 0.7 WARP3
Below Ferrick, there wasn’t much depth in the pen. This will be the left-handed pitching Cary’s only major league season, and Pieretti will be traded to Chicago in June of 1948. Only Candini will stick around in Washington for another couple of years.

1947 World Series
The Yankee-Dodger rivalry began before the season started, when Yankee owner Larry MacPhail named former Dodger coach Charlie Dressen as his team’s new manager despite the fact that Dressen had a verbal agreement to return to Brooklyn for the 1947 season. Brooklyn manager Leo Durocher and general manager Branch Rickey fired back by charging that MacPhail had entertained gamblers in his private box at en exhibition game in Cuba. Ultimately, the managers served suspensions of varying lengths (Durocher for the entire season) and each club was fined $2000 for “public feuding.” The feud remained public when the Yankees won the subway series in seven games over the Dodgers.