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Del Crandall
Catcher
Born: March 5, 1930 (1930-03-05) (age 80)
Ontario, California
Batted: Right Threw: Right 
MLB debut
June 17, 1949 for the Boston Braves
Last MLB appearance
September 14, 1966 for the Cleveland Indians
Career statistics
Batting average     .254
Home runs     179
Runs batted in     657
Teams

As Player

As Manager

Career highlights and awards

Delmar Wesley Crandall (born March 5, 1930 in Ontario, California[1]) is a former professional baseball catcher and manager in Major League Baseball who played most of his career with the Boston & Milwaukee Braves.[1][2] Considered one of the National League's top catchers during the 1950s and early 1960s, he led the league in assists a record-tying six times and in fielding percentage four times, putouts three times.[1][3][4] He won four of the first five Gold Glove Awards given to an National League catcher, and tied another record by catching three no-hitters.[5][6] He retired with the fourth most home runs by an National League catcher, and his career .404 slugging average also placed him among the league's top ten receivers. He ended his career among the major league career leaders in putouts (4th, 7352), total chances (8th, 8200) and fielding percentage (5th, .989) behind the plate, and ranked fourth in National League history in games caught.

Crandall was signed as an amateur free agent by the Braves in 1948.[7] He was only 19 when he first played in a major league game with the 1949 Boston Braves.[1] He appeared in 146 games for Boston in 1949-1950 before entering military service during the Korean War. When his two-year hitch was over in March 1953, the Braves departed Boston for Milwaukee, where – benefitting from a powerful offense featuring Hank Aaron, Eddie Mathews and Joe Adcock – they soon became both successful on the field and phenomenally popular off it. Crandall seized the regular catcher's job from veteran Walker Cooper in 1953 and held it for eight years, handling star Braves pitchers such as left-hander Warren Spahn and right-handers Lew Burdette and Bob Buhl.[1][8] As a testament to Crandall's pitch calling skills, between 1953 and 1959, the Braves' pitching staff finished either first or second in the National League in team earned run average every year except 1955. Burdette credited Crandall for some of his success saying, "I never- well hardly ever- have to shake him off. He knows the job like no one else, and you can have faith in his judgement".[9] On September 11, 1955, with the Braves trailing the Philadelphia Phillies 4-1 with two outs in the ninth inning, Crandall hit a dramatic grand slam home run to win the game.[10] The Braves won National League pennants in 1957 and 1958,[11][12] also finishing in second place five times between 1953 and 1960, and captured the 1957 World Series championship – the franchise's first title since 1914.[13] Although he only batted .211 in the 1957 Series against the New York Yankees, Crandall had a solo home run for the Braves' last tally in a 5-0 win in the deciding Game 7.[14][15]

Though rarely among the league leaders in offensive categories, he finished 10th in the 1958 Most Valuable Player Award voting after hitting .272, tying his best mark to that point, with career highs in doubles and walks;[16] he also led the league in putouts, assists and fielding average, and won his first Gold Glove. In the 1958 World Series, again against the Yankees, he hit .240; he slugged another Game 7 solo homer, tying the score 2-2 in the 6th inning, though the Yankees went on to score four more runs to win the game and the Series.[14][17]

Crandall averaged 125 games caught during the peak of his career, and he paid the price, missing most of the 1961 season due to shoulder trouble,[18] which gave Joe Torre his opportunity to break in. While Crandall did come back to catch 90 games in 1962 - hitting a career-high .297, making his final National League All-Star squad and winning his last Gold Glove - he was soon replaced by Torre as the Braves' regular catcher. In 1962 he also moved ahead of Roy Campanella, setting the National League record for career fielding percentage; however, Johnny Roseboro would edge ahead of him before his career ended. After 1963, he was traded by the Braves to the San Francisco Giants in a seven-player deal;[7] he played a backup role in his final three major league seasons with the Giants (1964), Pittsburgh Pirates (1965), and Cleveland Indians (1966).

In 1,573 games over 16 seasons, he finished with a batting average of .254 with 179 home runs; his 175 HRs in the National League trailed only Campanella (242), Gabby Hartnett (236) and Ernie Lombardi (190) among the league's catchers. His 1430 games caught in the National League trailed only Al Lopez, Hartnett and Lombardi. Crandall was a superb defensive player with a strong arm; he threw out .4544% of the base runners who tried steal a base on him, ranking him 8th on the all-time list.[19] He was selected as an All-Star eight times during his career: 1953-1956, 1958-1960, 1962.[1] A powerful right-handed hitter, he topped the 20 home run mark three times.[1] After having caught Jim Wilson's no-hitter on June 12, 1954, he added another pair in 1960 – by Burdette on August 18, and by Spahn a month later on September 16;[20][21][22] amazingly, all three were against the Philadelphia Phillies. Richard Kendall of the Society for American Baseball Research devised an unscientific study that ranked Crandall as the fourth most dominating fielding catcher in major league history.[23]

Crandall eventually turned to managing, and piloted two American League clubs, the Milwaukee Brewers (1972-75) and the Seattle Mariners (1983-84).[24] In each case he was hired to try to right a losing team in mid-season, but he never enjoyed a winning campaign with either team and finished with a managing record of 364-469 (.437). In between those American League stints, he was a highly successful manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers' top farm club, the Albuquerque Dukes of the Triple-A Pacific Coast League, and also managed the Class A San Bernardino Stampede from 1995 to 1997.[25] He remained in the Dodger organization as a special catching instructor well into his 60s. He also worked as a sports announcer with the Chicago White Sox radio team from 1985 through 1988 and with the Brewers from 1992-94.[18]

Crandall was ejected in the first inning of his very first major league game, while catching, by Hall of Fame umpire Jocko Conlan for arguing balls and strikes after only two pitches had been thrown and both had been called balls. According to Crandall, they were strikes, and when he questioned Jocko about them, Conlan called time out, walked around to the front of home plate, turned around to face him, took out his brush, and while wiping the plate said "Ain't no busher gonna come up here and tell me how to call a game". Crandall told Conlan where he could "shove" his "busher" and Conlan immediately heaved him. The Boston Braves had flown his parents out for the game and Del said he will never forget the astonished look on his mother's face as he walked past her front row seat on his way to the dugout. He states that every time he ran into Conlan thereafter, that Conlan claimed credit for "straightening him out."

Crandall appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated twice: Once by himself, and once with a group of other players. A pop punk band from Connecticut named itself "The Del Crandalls" after him;[26] they sent their namesake a tape and a flyer promoting one of their shows, and Crandall sent his approval.

See also

External links

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Del Crandall at Baseball Reference
  2. ^ Del Crandall at Baseball Almanac
  3. ^ Fielding Leaders, Baseball Digest, July 2001, Vol. 60, No. 7, ISSN 0005-609X
  4. ^ Del Crandal in Baseball Digest, August 1999, Vol. 58, No. 8, ISSN 0005-609X
  5. ^ National League Gold Glove Award winners at Baseball Reference
  6. ^ No-hitters caught at The Encyclopedia of Catchers
  7. ^ a b Del Crandall Trades and Transactions at Baseball Almanac
  8. ^ Orange-Topped Catcher, by Charles Dexter, Baseball Digest, August 1953, Vol. 12, No. 8, ISSN 0005-609X
  9. ^ The Nitro-glistenin' Kid by Al Jonas, Baseball Digest, pp 9, May 1954, Vol. 13, No. 4, ISSN 0005-609X
  10. ^ September 11, 1955 Phillies-Braves box score at Retrosheet
  11. ^ 1957 National League Team Statistics and Standings at Baseball Reference
  12. ^ 1958 National League Team Statistics and Standings at Baseball Reference
  13. ^ 1957 World Series at Baseball Reference
  14. ^ a b Del Crandall post-season statistics at Baseball Reference
  15. ^ 1957 World Series Game 7 box score at Baseball Reference
  16. ^ 1958 Most Valuable Player Award voting results at Baseball Reference
  17. ^ 1958 World Series Game 7 box score at Baseball Reference
  18. ^ a b Del Crandall at The Baseball Library
  19. ^ 100 Best Catcher CS% Totals at The Encyclopedia of Baseball Catchers
  20. ^ June 12, 1954 Phillies-Braves box score at Baseball Reference
  21. ^ August 18, 1960 Phillies-Braves box score at Baseball Reference
  22. ^ September 16, 1960 Phillies-Braves box score at Baseball Reference
  23. ^ Dominating Fielding Catchers at The Encyclopedia of Baseball Catchers
  24. ^ Del Crandall Major League manager statistics at Baseball Reference
  25. ^ Del Crandall Minor league manager statistics at Baseball Reference
  26. ^ The Del Crandalls web site
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Dave Bristol
Milwaukee Brewers Manager
1972-1975
Succeeded by
Harvey Kuenn
Preceded by
Rene Lachemann
Seattle Mariners Manager
1983-1984
Succeeded by
Chuck Cottier

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