Baseball History for June 21st

<— JUNE 20     JUNE 22 —>

On this day in 1951, Bill Veeck was announced as the new owner of the St. Louis Browns.


1860 Charlie Levis
1866 Matt Kilroy
1874 Tom Jones

Later in his career, Jones finds his way to a bad St. Louis Browns team and he turns into a horrible diva before getting traded.

1876 Billy Gilbert
1877 Ed Watkins
1879 Hunter Hill
1884 Ray Tift
1891 Bert Adams
1898 Spencer Adams
1900 Red Barron
1906 Art Smith
1906 Russ Van Atta

Left zinc mining, where he was making 58 cents an hour to go to college – Penn State. Signed by the Yankees in 1928, the lefty starter worked his way through the minors before getting a shot with the 1933 team. Went 12 – 4, even hit .283 with a 4 for 4 game in his major league debut, a 16 – 0 win over the Senators… In the off season, his house caught fire and he raced in to save his dog. He seriously cut his hand, permanently losing feeling in his index and middle fingers. He could still throw heat, but his curveball no longer had the same bite since he couldn’t feel the ball. To demonstrate the loss of feeling, he would light matches or hold his fingers over fire. He kept it a secret from the Yankees, though.

Two years later, he was traded to St. Louis. He compared the two – one was a big budget organization, and the other was running on a shoe string budget.

“The difference between playing with the Yankees and the Browns was like day and night,” he said. “Col. Jake Rupert was loaded with money. When the Yankees traveled, they had two sleeping cars for the players and only used the bottom berths. There was a third car for the mob of New York sports writers who followed the team around. The Browns had one sleeping car, and the players had to use both the upper and lower berths. We had just one sports writer from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch with us. He had to make do in one of the other passenger cars.”

He was injured in all sorts of ways, though – hit by liners, cut in fishing accidents. In 1937 his season ended with bone chips removed from his throwing elbow. His shoulder finally gave out and he called it a career.

Later in life, Van Atta ran for a commission seat in New Jersey and his old teammate, Babe Ruth, campaigned for him. Van Atta wom that election 1573 votes to 53.

Peter Chapin. “Ex-Yank Recalls the Golden Years”, The (Butte) Montana Standard, 13 July 1975, Page 8.

“Russ Van Atta Won’t Pitch For Bat Boy Salary”, Zanesville Times Recorder, 14 February 1938, Page 6.

“Mitch’s Musings”, Athens (OH) Messenger, 29 March 1940, Page 11.

1906 Randy Moore
1918 Eddie Lopat
1927 Jackie Collum
1950 Mike Beard
1952 Dave Downs
1953 Charlie Moore
1953 Gene Pentz
1956 Rick Sutcliffe

Dodger Rookie of the Year when any Dodger rookie was a candidate to win it… Rescued from the Cleveland Indians in a trade that brought him to Chicago in 1984 (Joe Carter and Mel Hall went the other way, along with a lesser known pitcher) and the Red Baron became virtually unbeatable – at least until game five of the playoffs against San Diego.

Had a fine career – smart pitcher, good hitter, and a tolerable though enjoyable broadcaster…

1957 Jay Pettibone
1963 Jeff Musselman
1964 Brad Moore
1969 Donovan Osborne
1974 Sean Runyan
1977 Roger Deago
1978 Luis Rivera
1980 Sendy Rleal
1981 Garrett Jones
1981 Jeff Baker
1982 Arnie Munoz
1991 Jefry Marte


1895 Rex Smith
1918 Davy Force
1923 Claude Elliott
1923 Bill Grevell
1934 Monte Cross
1936 Ambrose Puttmann
1943 Chet Chadbourne
1944 Harry Swacina
1952 Andy Dunning
1965 Jay Dahl
1974 Homer Blankenship
1974 Joe Jenkins
1983 Kit Carson
1986 Arnie Portocarrero
1987 Phil Weintraub
1988 Ed Linke
1991 Harry Wilke
1998 Al Campanis
2000 Bud Stewart
2015 Darryl Hamilton


1916 Boston’s George (Rube) Foster fans three and walks three – and gives up no hits – in beating the Yankees, 2 – 0.

1964 Philadelphia Jim Bunning drives in two runs and tosses a perfect game in taming the Mets to open a double header on Father’s Day.

Paul Doutrich writes about it for SABR.

1970 Detroit’s Cesar Gutierrez becomes the third player to get seven hits in a game – and the first to do it in seven at bats. Detroit wins in 12 innings, 9 – 8, over Cleveland as Mickey Stanley homers off of Phil Hennigan.

2000 Oakland’s Eric Chavez hits for the cycle to key a 10 – 3 victory over Baltimore.

2006 Starting with a leadoff homer in the first, New York’s Jose Reyes hits for the cycle – but the Reds win, 6 – 5.


1935 Cincinnati purchases Babe Herman, who was struggling at the time, from the Pirates. He’d hit .335 the rest of the way.

1955 Boston signs amateur pitcher Bill Monbouquette.

1960 Detroit signs amateur pitcher Jim Rooker.

Years ago, I knew an autograph and memorabilia collector named Judd Revesz. Very nice guy – we worked together for a year or so in the Chicago area. Some 35 years ago or so, Revesz took his autograph book to O’Hare Airport where he knew the Pittsburgh Pirates were soon to be boarding a plane to leave town and got most of the Pirates to sign his book. He was missing one name – Jim Rooker. Spying his target across the way he walked over to the man and asked him to sign his book. At first, Judd was turned away. So, he begged – once, twice, and finally on the third “Pretty please, Mr. Rooker – it’s the only one on this team I am missing…”, the man took Judd’s pen and scribbled the following:

To my biggest fan: Jim Rooker, alias Bert Blyleven.

Yep – Judd had pegged the wrong guy.

1963 On the day Milwaukee signed Mike Lum, the Twins signed Reggie Smith. At the end of the season, he was drafted away by the Red Sox.

1976 San Francisco signs amateur catcher Bob Brenly as a free agent.

1989 Oakland sends Greg Cadaret, Eric Plunk, and Luis Polonia to the Yankees for Rickey Henderson.


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