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Marv Throneberry

1959 Topps baseball card #326
First Base
Born: September 2, 1933(1933-09-02)
Collierville, Tennessee
Died: June 23, 1994
Fisherville, Tennessee
Batted: Left Threw: Left 
MLB debut
September 25, 1955 for the New York Yankees
Last MLB appearance
May 5, 1963 for the New York Mets
Career statistics
Batting average     .237
Home runs     53
Runs batted in     170
Teams

Marvin Eugene Throneberry (September 2, 1933 - June 23, 1994) was an American Major League Baseball player, best remembered as the starting first baseman for the 1962 New York Mets; a team which set the modern record for most losses in a season with 120.

A native of Fisherville, Tennessee, Throneberry batted and threw left-handed. Signed as an amateur free agent by the New York Yankees in 1952, he made his major-league debut in September 1955. He was one of the most feared minor league sluggers of the 1950s. Playing in the thin air of Bears Stadium as a member of the Denver Bears, Throneberry led the American Association in home runs and runs batted in for three consecutive seasons: 1955-56-57.

Throneberry made it back to the majors for good in 1958, and although he possessed good power — his swing drew comparisons to Mickey Mantle[citation needed] — he showed a tendency to strike out and difficulty fielding his position. As a result, he spent two seasons on the Yankees' bench before being included in a six-player trade for Kansas City Athletics power-hitting outfielder Roger Maris before the 1960 season.

After a little more than one full season on Kansas City's bench, filling in at first base and right field, Kansas City traded Throneberry to the Baltimore Orioles for outfielder Gene Stephens in June 1961. Less than a year later, Baltimore traded him to the Mets for a player to be named later (Hobie Landrith) and cash.

With the Mets, Throneberry got his first chance as a regular, and he responded by hitting .244 with 16 home runs and 49 RBI. However, he committed 17 errors at first base and his fielding percentage of .981 would not be equaled by a major-league regular first baseman until César Cedeño fielded .981 in 1979 for the Astros.

The Legend of Marv Throneberry

While on that 1962 Mets team legions of humorous stories surfaced about Throneberry. While it is likely that many of these stories are indeed false they helped escalate Throneberry to almost legendary status amongst Mets fans.

In one famous story, on June 17, Throneberry hit a triple in a game against the Cubs, but was called out for not touching second base. According to the legend, manager Casey Stengel came out to argue the call, but was told by the umpire "Don't bother arguing Casey, he missed first base, too." (In another version of the story, Stengel was told by his first-base coach). The next batter hit a home run, prompting Stengel to come out of the dugout following him and pointing at all four bases. Throneberry's mistake proved costly, as the Cubs won the game 8-7.

Another story about Throneberry revolved around Stengel's birthday. The team decided to throw him a party, complete with birthday cake. While the rest of the team was enjoying their cake with Stengel, Throneberry realized he didn't receive a slice. When he complained Stengel reportedly leaned over to his first baseman and said "We was gonna give you a piece but we was afraid you'd drop it!" A variation of this story has Throneberry on his own birthday being told by teammate Richie Ashburn that they would have given him a birthday cake except that they were afraid he'd drop it.

Throneberry, who facetiously came to be known as Marvelous Marv, maintained a sense of humor about his play and became a favorite with fans and the media. At one point he had a fan club which numbered around 5,000 members. It is reported that they wore shirts with the word "VRAM" (Marv backwards).

However, Mets fans' patience for Throneberry's ineptitude wore thin, and he was demoted to Triple A Buffalo in 1963 to make room for another Met legend, Ed Kranepool. He was eventually released from the team and retired at age 29. "Marvelous Marv" later became one of the original spokespeople for Miller Lite beer in the early 1980s. Throneberry's most famous line: "If I do for Lite what I did for baseball, I'm afraid their sales will go down." Columnist Jimmy Breslin would quip, "Having Marv Throneberry play for your team is like having Willie Sutton work for your bank."

In a seven-season career, Throneberry was a .237 hitter with 53 home runs and 170 RBI in 480 games. He died in Fisherville, Tennessee, at 60 years of age.

Marv was the brother of fellow major leaguer Faye Throneberry, and the grandfather of acclaimed filmmaker Craig Brewer (Black Snake Moan). He died of cancer at age 60.

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