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Tuesday, May 03, 2011

BPP: One game in the bigs: 10 short baseball careers

Colson now at a BreakPoint!

7. Nick Testa: 1958 was the best and worst of years for Testa. He finally made the majors at 29 for the San Francisco Giants, though his stint lasted one half of one inning, with him committing an error his only defensive chance. He became a bullpen coach for the team later that year and played a few more seasons in the minors and elsewhere, being among the first Americans to play in Japan in 1962.

9. Harry Heitmann: A disastrous outing could have doomed Heitmann. The 21-year-old didn’t record an out his only big league start, allowing four runs for the loss, and because it was 1918, he immediately joined the navy and served in World War I. Ballplayers were conscripted indiscriminately in those days, from Cobb to George Sisler to Grover Cleveland Alexander, so Heitmann may have served no matter if he succeeded in baseball. He survived and died in 1958.

10. John Oldham: The Reds drafted Oldham as a southpaw out of San Jose State, though in his sole appearance in the majors in 1956, he pinch ran for Ted Kluszewski. Oldham later coached college baseball for almost three decades, instructing future All Star pitcher Dave Righetti among others.

 

Repoz Posted: May 03, 2011 at 10:49 AM | 26 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. Colin Posted: May 03, 2011 at 01:28 PM (#3816418)
Any such list must include Ron Wright. One game at DH, with three AB: a strikeout, a double play, and a triple play.
   2. UCCF Posted: May 03, 2011 at 01:35 PM (#3816423)
Adam Greenberg - one game, 1 PA, 1 HBP in the head that essentially ended his career.
   3. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 03, 2011 at 01:39 PM (#3816427)
I was going to post Greenberg. Also Bob Hegman, who appeared in the field for an inning for the champion '85 Royals, but never got to hit.

I've often wondered about all the guys that got called up to MLB rosters, but never appeared in games, and don't even get an entry in BBRef. Were they big leaguers?
   4. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: May 03, 2011 at 01:45 PM (#3816432)
I've often wondered about all the guys that got called up to MLB rosters, but never appeared in games, and don't even get an entry in BBRef. Were they big leaguers?

I think if you appear on an active roster, you get some sort of MLB pension, so I'd say yes, they arre big leaguers.
   5. Home Run Teal & Black Black Black Gone! Posted: May 03, 2011 at 01:59 PM (#3816445)
but never got to hit.


Count the ring.
   6. BDC Posted: May 03, 2011 at 02:00 PM (#3816448)
"Short baseball careers" in the title got me intrigued about how long some of their complete careers were. Nick Testa is an interesting case. One inning in the majors, but his career as a professional player spanned 19 seasons. Testa spent three years in Class B, five in Class A, four in AA (plus one in AAA, and one, as noted, in Japan). It's an interesting career, and he must really love the game (I speak in the present tense because B-Ref has him alive at age 82). Even journeyman catchers don't have careers like that any more unless they hover right at the AAAA line and spend more time on major-league rosters; lower-minors teams are stocked with younger and more disposable prospects nowadays.
   7. Jolly Old St. Nick Is A Jolly Old St. Crip Posted: May 03, 2011 at 02:08 PM (#3816457)
Frank Leja also deserves some sort of an honorable mention.

He was signed as a $60,000 bonus baby back when bonus babies were required to remain on the Major League roster for a minimum of two years. During those two years Leja went 1 for 7 and then disappeared in the minors for six full years.

He then re-surfaced with the Angels in 1962, went 0 for 16, and was never heard from again.
   8. Perry Posted: May 03, 2011 at 04:20 PM (#3816661)
Joe Nuxhall had a similar path to Leja with a happier ending. He famously pitched in one game as a 15-year-old in 1944, got hammered, then disappeared from the majors until age 23. But then he had a fine career and lasted 15 years as a player and another 40+ as a broadcaster.
   9. Russlan is fond of Dillon Gee Posted: May 03, 2011 at 04:29 PM (#3816668)
I think it's lame that the article got the most important part of John Paciorek's career wrong. He didn't go 3-5. He batted 1.000!
   10. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 03, 2011 at 04:54 PM (#3816687)
Mark Kiger warrants mention. Three games played in his career - two of them came in the post-season. No plate appearances.
   11. vortex of dissipation Posted: May 03, 2011 at 05:10 PM (#3816707)
Mark Kiger warrants mention. Three games played in his career - two of them came in the post-season. No plate appearances.


Didn't Kiger only play in the postseason? I don't think he played in a regular season game.
   12. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: May 03, 2011 at 05:11 PM (#3816708)
I think it's lame that the article got the most important part of John Paciorek's career wrong. He didn't go 3-5. He batted 1.000!

Yeah, but no pop at all. ISO of 0.000!!!
   13. vortex of dissipation Posted: May 03, 2011 at 05:15 PM (#3816711)
I've always had a soft spot in my heart for Bob Mavis, who pinch-ran in one game at Yankee Stadium for the Browns in 1949. Why? Well, my name is Robert, and my mother's name is Mavis...
   14. The importance of being Ernest Riles Posted: May 03, 2011 at 05:20 PM (#3816720)
11: That is correct. I think b-ref can't handle that so it shows him as playing a single regular season game with not PAs. That is incorrect - Kiger was used to replace Mark Ellis on the ALCS roster.
   15. SoSH U at work Posted: May 03, 2011 at 05:21 PM (#3816721)
I interviewed one of these types, Dutch Fehring, upon his induction in the first class of the Purdue Athletic Hall of Fame. One at bat against the Yankees late in a 13-2 loss. He said Bill Dickey tried to help the fellow catcher out by calling fastballs, but he still fanned.
   16. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: May 03, 2011 at 05:28 PM (#3816729)

Didn't Kiger only play in the postseason? I don't think he played in a regular season game.


That's what I remember too, but I trusted BBRef over my memory. I would bet #14 is right.
   17. lonestarball Posted: May 03, 2011 at 06:53 PM (#3816826)
I'm pretty sure there was no draft in place when Oldham was signed -- the Reds would have signed him as a free agent.
   18. phredbird Posted: May 03, 2011 at 10:24 PM (#3817058)
somebody in the article comments mentioned walter alston. he had one plate appearance in the majors and struck out.
   19. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: May 03, 2011 at 11:41 PM (#3817163)
No love for Charlie Lindstrom? (That's a mighty nice OPS+, son...)
   20. RMc is a fine piece of cheese Posted: May 03, 2011 at 11:56 PM (#3817192)
Another interesting case for radio fans like myself: Dick Bass, who started and lost one game, for the Senators on September 21, 1939. Radio station WJSV archived their entire programming schedule that day, and (most of) that day's game is included. (Coverage of the game doesn't actually start until the third inning; this was intentional, as many teams were wary about "giving away" entire baseball games for free via the airwaves.) Bass played 14 years (and later managed) in the minors, before and after the war.

I've listened to the WJSV tapes several times; it's absolutely fascinating stuff, like traveling to a different world.
   21. vortex of dissipation Posted: May 04, 2011 at 12:15 AM (#3817218)
Another interesting case for radio fans like myself: Dick Bass, who started and lost one game, for the Senators on September 21, 1939. Radio station WJSV archived their entire programming schedule that day, and (most of) that day's game is included. (Coverage of the game doesn't actually start until the third inning; this was intentional, as many teams were wary about "giving away" entire baseball games for free via the airwaves.) Bass played 14 years (and later managed) in the minors, before and after the war.

I've listened to the WJSV tapes several times; it's absolutely fascinating stuff, like traveling to a different world.


The radio announcer for the baseball game is Walter Johnson!

Another interesting player with a short career who played in that game is the Washington centerfielder, Elmer Gedeon, who became the only MLB player to lose his life as a combat pilot in WW2, when his B-26 was shot down over France in 1944.
   22. GotowarMissAgnes Posted: May 04, 2011 at 12:22 AM (#3817227)
I'd buy a book about this. Somebody write one.
   23. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: May 04, 2011 at 12:22 AM (#3817228)
I love the part about Al Travers compiling a -2.1 career WAR in his one game career.
   24. The Ghost's Tryin' to Reason with Hurricane Season Posted: May 04, 2011 at 12:31 AM (#3817235)
Any such list must include Ron Wright. One game at DH, with three AB: a strikeout, a double play, and a triple play.

Yep, the first one I thought of. I saw the game on TV. He merited an article in the NY Times a few years ago. TEh writer tracked him down. He's a pharmacist in Idaho now.

I think if you appear on an active roster, you get some sort of MLB pension, so I'd say yes, they arre big leaguers.


You get medical benefits with one day, but that's only since 1981:

...the vesting requirement for full comprehensive medical benefits for life and full pension benefits were changed after the 1981 eight-day players strike. The requirements were reduced from four years to one day of Major League Baseball service for medical benefits, and from four years to 43 days of service for full pension benefits.

Lawsuit alleges discrimination due to race
   25. Misirlou's been working for the drug squad Posted: May 04, 2011 at 12:38 AM (#3817244)
8 day player strike Gracie?
   26. Coot Veal and Cot Deal taste like Old Bay Posted: May 04, 2011 at 12:50 AM (#3817273)
I love the part about Al Travers compiling a -2.1 career WAR in his one game career.


Allan Travers SABR bio

photo of Father Travers

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