George Earnshaw was a World Series champ and WWII hero


George Earnshaw

The college standout takes an unconventional path to pro ball George Earnshaw took the road less traveled. Throughout his life he made unexpected decisions that always had a way of working out. Living on his own terms he became the right-handed ace of a baseball dynasty and a World War II hero. Earnshaw was a star in football, basketball, and baseball at Swarthmore College and later a member of the school’s athletic Hall of Fame. On the pitcher’s mound the 6’4″, 210-pounder was an especially imposing presence. When he left the school in 1922, baseball scouts tabbed him as the top local prospect. The International League’s Double-A Baltimore Orioles were Earnshaw’s most persistent suitor. When they wouldn’t agree to his demand of $600 per month, Earnshaw took a job with his uncle’s transportation business in Newark, New Jersey. He later joked he was the only holdout in baseball history who had yet to play a professional game. Over the next couple of years, the Orioles reminded Earnshaw of their interest each time they traveled to Newark to play the Bears. When his uncle’s business closed in 1924, Earnshaw finally took the Orioles up on their baseball offer. More than two […]

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Vic Wertz did much more than fly out to Willie Mays in the ’54 World Series


Willie Mays catch

World Series heroics in a losing cause Vic Wertz played over 1,000 big league games by the time he reached his only World Series in 1954. Once he got to baseball’s biggest stage he was sensational. In Game 1 Wertz opened the scoring with a two-run triple to deep right. In his next two at bats, Wertz hit sharp singles. Then in the 8th inning and the score tied 2-2, Wertz came to bat with two runners on. The first baseman ripped a line drive to deep centerfield in New York’s cavernous Polo Grounds. Giants center fielder Willie Mays turned his back to the plate and sprinted toward the wall. Mays caught up to it and made a spectacular over-the-shoulder grab 450 feet from the plate. “The Catch” brought the 52,751 fans in attendance to their feet. The Giants won the game 5-2 in ten innings. Though his Indians were swept in the Series, Wertz went 8-for-16 with four extra-base hits. For Mays the Game 1 play was another memorable moment in a career filled with them. With 660 homers, 24 all star appearances, 12 straight Gold Gloves and two MVP Awards, he is regarded by many as the game’s […]

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Joe DiMaggio’s 1939 October blast left an impression on the baseball lifer who surrendered it


1939 World Series

Pro career starts at age 17 Gene Thompson enjoyed a pro baseball career that spanned parts of eight decades. Signed by the Reds as a 17-year old in 1935, Thompson played until 1950. Two years later at age 35, he embarked on a scouting career that lasted until after his 88th birthday. The highlight of his playing career came in his first year as a Major Leaguer in 1939. Debuting as a 21-year old, Thompson excelled in his role as the Reds swingman, going 13-5 with a 2.54 ERA in 11 starts and 31 relief appearances. Thompson wasn’t the only stellar performer. The Reds got 27 wins from MVP Bucky Walters and a league-leading 128 RBI from first baseman Frank McCormick. Cincinnati won 97 games to earn the National League pennant. Thompson’s Reds face the Yankees in October In the World Series, Cincinnati squared off against Joe McCarthy’s heavily-favored Yankees. After dropping the first two games in New York, the Reds tabbed Thompson to start Game 3 in Cincinnati. A win by the home team would put the Reds back in the thick of things; a loss would put them in a 3-0 hole against the two-time defending champs. In […]

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There was no champagne for Red Sox, Lonborg in ‘67


Lonborg and champagne

World Series championships are won on the field, not in the newspapers. In 1967 the press might’ve given the Cardinals extra motivation in their epic seven-game battle against the Red Sox. Boston wins the pennant on the last day Boston had to grind it out just to get to the postseason. The battle for supremacy in the American League came down to the last day of the regular season. Boston and second-place Detroit were separated by just a half-game. The Tigers had a doubleheader at home against the Angels. The Red Sox played the Twins at Fenway Park. Boston turned to ace Jim Lonborg for the regular season finale. The 1967 Cy Young Award winner, Gentleman Jim responded with a gutty performance. On three days rest he went the distance allowing one earned run before the sellout crowd at Fenway. The October 1st contest was his 15th complete game of the season. The Tigers needed a sweep of California. Detroit won the first game 6-4 but couldn’t contain the Angels in the second, losing 8-5. With the Detroit loss, Boston earned a berth to the World Series against the National Champion St. Louis Cardinals. The World Series begins On only […]

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"Whoever wants to know the heart and mind of America had better learn baseball…"

~Jacques Barzun, 1954