Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Mom With The Huge Christmas Gift - 1946 Tigers Team Ball

Well now.  My mom really enjoys being able to click on the little "Mom" hashtags at the bottom of my posts (or just search "Mom") and seeing all of the posts that end up being about her.  I'm perfectly ok with this, because it affords me some really cool stuff that she wants to see me write about.

This year's Christmas gift from her was a hige hit for me, as it was this team ball signed by many of the 1946 Tigers.  In the top photo, on the sweet spot, you see that I now own two baseballs signed by the legendary Hall of Famer, Hank Greenberg.  Wow.  Also on the sweet spot are Steve O'Neill (manager) and Frank Shellenback (coach).

I have already profiled Greenberg, which you can read here.

O'Neill (b. 1891 - d. 1962) played in the majors from 1911 to 1925 and 1927 to 1928 for the Indians, Red Sox, Yankees and Browns.  He had 1,259 hits, 15 home runs and a .263 batting average.  He won the World Series with the Indians in 1920.  He appeared on the Hall of Fame ballot from 1948 to 1953 and 1958 (7 ballots) but only received at most 4.9% of the vote.  He managed the Indians from 1935 to 1937, the Tigers from 1943 to 1948, the Red Sox in 1950 and 1951 and the Phillies from 1952 to 1954.  His overall managerial record was 1,040-821 (.559) and won the World Series with the Tigers in 1945.

Shellenback (b. 1898 - d. 1969) played in the majors in 1918 and 1919 for the White Sox.  He had a record of 10-15 with 57 strike outs and a 3.06 ERA.  He was banned to the minors due to the outlawing of the spitball in 1919 and went on to win a record 295 games in the PCL.
Hall of Famer, George Kell has a very nice signature on this baseball.  He joined the Tigers in May of 1946 for Barney McCoskey.  That means the ball was signed after May 18, 1946.  I profiled Kell on a former blog that no longer exists.  Oops.  I'm going to have to fix that.
Mom wasn't even aware that Virgil Trucks makes an appearance on this baseball, as the second signature on this side panel.  Also on this panel are Al Benton, Paul Richards, a signature that looks like George Rehfuss (but I can't find that name anywhere) and Anse Moore.

Benton (b. 1911 - d. 1968) played in the majors from 1934 to 1935, 1938 to 1942, 1945 to 1950 and 1952 for the A's, Tigers, Indians and Red Sox.  He had a career record of 98-88 with 697 strike outs and a 3.66 ERA.  He was an All Star in 1941 ad 1942 and won the World Series with the Tigers in 1945.

Trucks has been profiled on here more times than anyone else, so just search his name in the sidebar.

Richards  (b. 1908 - d. 1986) played in the majors from 1932 to 1935 and 1943 to 1946 for the Dodgers, Giants, A's and Tigers.  He had 321 hits, 15 home runs and a .227 batting average.  He won the World Series with the Tigers in 1945.  He managed the White Sox from 1951 to 1954, the Orioles from 1955 to 1961 and the White Sox again in 1976.  He had a career managerial record of 923-901 (.506%).  His 517 wins as Orioles manager rank third all-time behind Earl Weaver and Buck Showalter.

Moore (b. 1917 - d. 1993) played in the majors in 1946 (for the Tigers).  He had 28 hits, 1 home run and a .209 batting average.
Here is a better shot of the signature that I think is George Rehfuss.  If anyone can identify him, please let me know.
This panel features George Caster, Jimmy Bloodworth, Dick Wakefield, Dizzy Trout and Art Mills. 

Caster, (b. 1907 - d. 1955) played in the majors from 1934 to 1935 and 1937 to 1946 for the A's, Browns and Tigers.  He had a career record of 76-100 with 595 strike outs and a 4.54 ERA.  He won the 1945 World Series with the Tigers.

Bloodworth (b. 1917 - d. 2002) played in the majors in 1937, 1939 to 1943, 1946-1947 and 1949 to 1951 for the Senators, Tigers, Pirates, Reds and Phillies.  He had 874 hits, 62 home runs and a .248 batting average. 

Wakefield (b. 1921 - d. 1985) played in the majors in 1941, 1943 to 1944, 1946 to 1950 and 1952 for the Tigers, Yankees and Giants.  He had 625 hits, 56 home runs and a .293 batting average.  He was an All Star in 1943 and finished a career-best 5th in the AL MVP voting in 1944.  He had 200 hits in 1943, then left for the Navy.  When the cadet program he was in was canceled, he rejoined the Tigers in June of 1944 and batted .355 over 78 games.  He was recalled to the Navy in November of 1944 and served until January of 1946.  While in the service, Wakefield bet Ted Williams that he would beat him in home runs, RBI and batting average when the war ended, $1,000 for each stat.  He lost all three bets and never regained his form that he had prior to the War.  Wakefield was the first "bonus baby" ballplayer.  He tried out for several teams in 1941 and signed for $52,000, which led to a lot of resentment from other players, fans and the press.

Trout (b. 1915 - d. 1972) played in the majors from 1939 to 1952 and 1957 for the Tigers, Red Sox and Orioles.  He had a record of 170-161 with 1,256 strike outs and a 3.23 ERA.  He won 20 or more games twice in his career (1943 and 1944) and had the AL ERA title in 1944 (2.12).  His best MVP finish was 2nd in 1944 to Hal Newhouser, to whom he lost by 4 vote points.  Trout was an All Star in 1944 and 1947 and is the father of former pitcher, Steve Trout.  He appeared on the 1964 Hall of Fame ballot, but received only 0.5% of the vote.  I know he isn't likely a Hall of Famer, but he needs a better showing than that, come on.

Mills (b. 1903 - d. 1975) played in the majors from 1927 to 1928 for the Boston Braves.  He had a career record of 0-1 with 7 strike outs and a 5.36 ERA.  
The signature at the top of this panel is one I haven't been able to identify at all.  I thought it said Jack something, but I can't figure it out.  The rest of the signatures are Bob Swift, Johnny Groth, Roy Cullenbine and Johnny Lipon.

Swift (b. 1915 - d. 1966) played in the majors from 1940 to 1953 for the Browns, A's and Tigers.  He had 635 hits, 14 home runs and a .231 batting average.  He won the World Series with the Tigers in 1945.  He managed the Tigers in 1965 and 1966 to a record of 56-43 (.566 %).  He had taken over for Chuck Dressen as Dressen had a mild heart attack during Spring Training in 1965.  He stepped aside when Dressen was able to return later that season.  In 1966, Dressen had another heart attack, and Swift took over, but he, too, had to step aside when he fell ill at the All Star break with what was originally thought to be food poisoning.  It was revealed that Swift had inoperable lung cancer.  Swift died on October 17 of that year (Dressen had died also that season, on August 10).

Groth is the only living player who is on this baseball, and was profiled here.  He signs TTM.  I may get a few pictures of the unidentified signatures and see if he can help at all.

Cullenbine (b. 1913 - d. 1991) played in the majors from 1938 to 1947 for the Tigers, Dodgers, Browns, Senators, Yankees and Indians.  He had 1,072 hits, 110 home runs and a .276 batting average.  He was an All Star in 1941 and 1944 and won the World Series with the Tigers in 1945.  His best MVP finish was 10th in 1941 while with the Browns,

Lipon (b. 1922 - d. 1998) played in the majors in 1942, 1946 and 1948 to 1954 for the Tigers, Red Sox, Browns and Reds.  He had 690 hits, 10 home runs and a .259 batting average.

So, I got 17 of the 19 names for sure.  My guess is the other two guys may be clubbies or someone else.  We'll see what I can figure out.

Thanks so much for the ball, Mom.  You always know how to surprise me. This ball was pretty amazing.  I'm glad I was able to identify and profile so many of the names on the ball.
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