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Wednesday, January 19, 2022

The oldest player who ever hit in a game

There’s not much written about it, unfortunately, but later in his life, while coaching for the St. Louis Browns, O’Leary came in to take an at-bat in the final game of the 1934 season ... at nearly 59 years of age. Here’s more from St. Louis Browns Historical Society & Fan Club President Ed Wheatley:

“The last time Charley had stepped to the plate in a MLB game was with the St. Louis Cardinals back in 1913,” Wheatley, creator of the film “A Baseball Legacy: Fans Remember the Browns,” told me. “But in the sixth inning of that September 30th game, he came up as a pinch-hitter for pitcher George Blaeholder and slapped a single. It was his only hit in his only at-bat in the last 20 years and 360 days.”

Nobody was or has been (or likely ever will be) older while standing in a big league batter’s box. It’s also the longest gap between at-bats in Major League history. Only Satchel Paige was older in a big league appearance when he pitched for the A’s at the age of 59.

And not only did O’Leary get a hit, but he also hustled around the bases to score a run. What would’ve been a ridiculous sight in today’s game—tweeted and written about countless times—was nothing more than a line on a box score.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: January 19, 2022 at 09:44 PM | 8 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: old

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   1. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: January 20, 2022 at 10:12 AM (#6061687)
Imagine a 59-year-old playing today! He would've been born in 1963, while JFK was still alive!

Here's a Born-in-1963 All-Star Team, based on WAR:

1B - Mark McGwire
2B - Bip Roberts
3B - Edgar Martinez (yes, I know, but I had to get Crime Dog's bat into the lineup)
SS - Walt Weiss
LF - Mike Greenwell
CF - Lenny Dykstra
RF - Paul O'Neill
C - Mike Stanley
DH - Fred McGriff
UT - Bobby Bonilla (if we can pay him)

SP - Randy Johnson, David Cone, David Wells, Jeff Fassero
RP - Bryan Harvey, Jeff Brantley, Bobby Thigpen
   2. Bourbon Samurai stays in the fight Posted: January 20, 2022 at 11:18 AM (#6061699)
Great story!
   3. BDC Posted: January 20, 2022 at 11:25 AM (#6061700)
If they'd have let Minnie Minoso bat in 1990, he would have broken O'Leary's mark; Minoso was 64 at the time.

Elderly pro players were more common BITD. Joe McGinnity batted .313 in the Mississippi Valley League in 1925, at the age of 54 (of course he pitched too, going 6-6 with an ERA of 3.81). But McGinnity had been playing in the minors off and on for many years at that point. A weird thing about the O'Leary at-bat was that he hadn't even batted in the minors since 1917.
   4. Traderdave Posted: January 20, 2022 at 01:57 PM (#6061734)
Was he on the roster? Had he signed a player contract?

Or did the umps just not GAF because it was the '34 Brown?
   5. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: January 20, 2022 at 02:11 PM (#6061739)
Was he on the roster? Had he signed a player contract?

Or did the umps just not GAF because it was the '34 Brown?

I think most teams (especially awful ones) carried fewer players than the roster max, so I doubt that would be an issue. Also nobody GAF.
   6. Cblau Posted: January 20, 2022 at 09:17 PM (#6061800)
The story leaves out the fact that O'Leary had shaved four years off his age for his playing career, so no one knew at the time that he was 58.
   7. vortex of dissipation Posted: January 20, 2022 at 10:29 PM (#6061805)
He wasn't the only Browns coach or manager to get into that game. Coach Grover Hartley, who was 45, caught the last few innings, and manager Rogers Hornsby, who was 38, pinch hit in the seventh inning. The three of them were the only Browns position players to be used as subs in the game.
   8. kthejoker Posted: January 21, 2022 at 12:47 AM (#6061813)
Jamie Moyer juuuuust missed the 1963 cutoff being born in November of 62 ...but he played MLB ball later than every player on the Born-in-1963 team (and had more WAR than Jeff Fassero, so think he should be (wait for it)

Grandfathered in.

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