Category Archives: November

NOV 28 IN BASEBALL HISTORY: Monty Stratton’s career ends suddenly

NOVEMBER 28, 1936 | DALLAS, TEXAS  The 26-year old ace of the Chicago White Sox had his right leg amputated on this date in 1938. Monty Stratton accidentally shot himself in the leg while hunting the day before. The story appeared to be, ‘Monty Stratton’s career ends suddenly.’ Stratton had other ideas.

According the New York Times, the accident happened while Stratton was hunting for rabbits on the family farm. He slipped and fell, accidentally discharging his shotgun. The pellets ripped into his right leg, striking a major artery. Doctors were forced to remove the leg.

The 6-foot 5-inch Stratton had pitched five seasons for the Sox before the accident. He went 15-5 and 15-9 the previous two seasons. He spent the two seasons after he lost his leg coaching for the White Sox and pitching batting practice. But he was determined to pitch competitively again.

Stratton was fitted for a wooden leg. He got himself back in shape. Though he never pitched in the major leagues again, Stratton pitched in the minor leagues for Sherman and Waco, Texas, going 18-8 and 7-7 in 1946 and 1947.

While Monty Stratton’s career ended suddenly, his inspiring story is depicted in the 1949 film, The Monty Stratton Story  starring James Stewart.

Contributing Sources:
Monty Stratton
Associated Press (AP), The Montreal Gazette, November 29, 1938
Monty Stratton minor leagues stats

NOV 25 IN BASEBALL HISTORY: SALARIES-NO COMPARISON

NOVEMBER 25, 1895 | YOUNGSVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA • A ballplayer by the name of Frank Spruiell May was born on this date in 1895. What’s so interesting about Jakie May, as he was called? Well, during the course of his 14-year major league baseball career he struck out Babe Ruth twice during the 1932 World Series while pitching for the Chicago Cubs. But I bring him up mainly for comparison of salaries-there’s comparison.

Jakie May was a dependable left-handed journeyman relief pitcher for the St. Louis CardinalsCincinnati Reds and Cubs from 1917 to 1932. He appeared in 410 games, won 72 and lost 95. Salary figures back in the day for guys not named Ruth are hard to come by, but May probably made around $70,000 for his entire career. Don’t even ask if Jakie May had to get a job when his playing days were over. He had to get a job every off-season, as did just about every other ballplayer not named Ruth.

Let’s compare May to a left-handed journeyman pitcher of the 21st Century. How about Alan Embree? He played 16 years with a number of teams, retiring in 2009.

Embree appeared in 882 games (though about half as many innings as Jakie May) with a record of 39 wins and 45 losses. Embree was paid an average of over $2-million dollars each year over the last decade if his career. He made over $22-million in his career. That’s 314 times greater than what Jakie May made in his career. Certainly costs of everything have gone up. The average home price in 1930 was about $7,000 compared to $211,000 when Alan Embree played. That’s about a 30-fold jump – significant, but no where near 314-fold.

Needless to say, while neither pitcher was ever a candidate for the Hall of Fame, Alan Embree will probably never have to work again. Jakie May never stopped working.

Contributing sources:
Raleigh News & Observer, “When baseball really was a game and nothing more,” by Dennis Rogers, October 11, 1994
Jakie May
MLB salary leaders, 1874-2012 (SABR)
Baseball in the 1930s

Special thanks to Kirk Kruger of Raleigh, NC for sending me press clippings about his grandfather, Jakie May.

NOV 22 IN BASEBALL HISTORY-Rod Carew in a runaway

NOVEMBER 22, 1967 | NEW YORK, NEW YORK • Rod Carew ran away with the American League Rookie of the Year award on this date in 1967. Carew would go on to a 19-year Hall of Fame career, mostly with the Minnesota Twins and mostly as a second baseman. He played 5 seasons for the California Angels (now the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim).

Carew was an all-star every year of his career except his last.

He was named AL Most Valuable Player in 1977 when he hit .388, drove in 100 runs and scored 128. He finished with a lifetime batting average of .328.

Carew was born on a train October 1, 1945 in what was then known as The Panama Canal Zone. When his mother went into labor she was assisted by a doctor by the name of Rodney Cline. In an expression of gratitude, the child was officially named Rodney Cline Carew.

The family emigrated to the United States when Rodney was 14. They settled in the Washington Heights section of New York City.

Contributing sources:
1967 post-season awards

NOV 20 IN BASEBALL HISTORY – Japan’s Cy Young

NOVEMBER 20, 1934 | SHIZOUKA, JAPAN – The Japanese equivalent of the “Cy Young” award is called the Sawamura Award largely because of what Eigi Sawamura did on this date in 1023.

At the age of 17, and still in high school, Sawamura faced a team of American all-stars, several considered to be among the greatest in history – Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Jimmie Foxx. Sawamura entered the game in the fourth, and pitched the rest of the way. In five innings, the teenager gave up just one run on five hits.

The highlight was when he struck out Charlie Gehringer, Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Jimmie Foxx in succession. Though Sawamura took the loss, he provided Japan with a moment of national pride.

Sawamura went on to pitch in Japanese professional baseball. He threw three no-hitters, finishing with a record of 63-22 with a 1.75 ERA,   His career didn’t last long. He was killed during World War II in 1944 when his ship was torpedoed.

After his death, Eiji Sawamura became an icon of Japanese baseball. In 1947, the magazine Nekkyo created the Sawamura Award to honor the best pitcher in Nippon Professional baseball. Twelve years later, he became one of nine initial members of the Ja

On Dec. 2, 1944, an American submarine torpedoed his transport ship near Yakushima Island. Sawamura perished along with many of the vessel’s passengers. The pitcher was 27 years old. He left behind a record of 63 wins, 22 losses, 554 strikeouts and a 1.74 earned run average.

CONTRIBUTING SOURCES:
Japanese pitcher could have been an American baseball star but fought America instead
SABR Society of American Baseball Research  

Baseball’s Greatest Sacrifice