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Mickey Vernon
First baseman
Born: April 22, 1918(1918-04-22)
Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania
Died: September 24, 2008 (aged 90)
Media, Pennsylvania
Batted: Left Threw: Left 
MLB debut
July 8, 1939 for the Washington Senators
Last MLB appearance
September 27, 1960 for the Pittsburgh Pirates
Career statistics
Batting average     .286
Home runs     172
Runs batted in     1,311
Teams
Career highlights and awards
  • 7x All-Star selection (1946, 1948, 1953, 1954, 1955, 1956, 1958)

James Barton "Mickey" Vernon (April 22, 1918 - September 24, 2008) was an American first baseman in Major League Baseball who played for the Washington Senators (1939-1948, 1950-1955) for the majority of his career, as well as four other teams: the Cleveland Indians (1949-1950, 1958), Boston Red Sox (1956-1957), Milwaukee Braves (1959) and Pittsburgh Pirates (1960). Despite missing two seasons to military service during World War II, he retired with 2,495 hits, and holds the major league record for career double plays at first base (2,044), as well as American League records for career games (2,227), putouts (19,754), assists (1,444) and total chances (21,408). He batted and threw left-handed.

Contents

Biography

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Early life

Mickey Vernon was born in Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania and attended Villanova University, before making his major league debut on July 8, 1939.

Baseball career

Mickey Vernon usually had a high batting average for a first baseman. In 14 full seasons (400 at bats or more), Vernon batted over .335 twice, over .300 five times, and over .290 nine times.

It can be argued which season was his best; 1946 or 1953. In 1946, Vernon's performance with the Senators was outstanding in the batting average area, leading the league in batting average; however, his power-hitting ability was not there yet. Vernon hit a career-high .353, with eight home runs, 88 runs scored, 207 hits, and 85 runs batted in in 587 at bats. He accomplished a .403 on base percentage and led the league in doubles with 51. It was his first on the All-Star team.

In 1953, picking up a number of career highs. Again, he led the league in batting average with .337, and this time picked up 15 homers and 115 RBIs, a career high, in 608 at bats. His hit total came out to over 200 again, at 205, while his stolen base numbers went down to 4. He scored over 100 runs for the only time, at 101. Again, he led the league in doubles, this time with only 43, and again he had a .403 on base percentage. His 115 RBIs also came on a very bad-hitting Senators team that was 76-76 on the year. He won his second batting title. He won his first in 1946, this time he took it from AL MVP Al Rosen, who lost it to Vernon by a point. Rosen missed the triple crown because of that.

Through the 1940s and most of the '50s, he was consistently putting up very good numbers. He had his career high in home runs in 1954 with 20 (which was 8th in the league). He also had 97 RBIs, 14 triples, a career high, and yet again he led the league in doubles with 33. He also had 294 total bases, which was 2nd in the league, behind Minnie Miñoso.

Over time, Vernon became one of the most well-liked ballplayers, mainly through his unique personality and charismatic, but quiet, style. By his last game on September 27, 1960, before being released by the Pirates he was, at 42, the oldest player by almost a year, and one of the most popular players in the game. He had spent that season as the Bucs' first-base coach before being activated, and earned a ring as a member of the 1960 World Series champions.

In a 20-season career, Vernon posted a quality .286 batting average with 172 home runs and 1,311 RBIs in 2,409 games. The left-hander averaged 88 RBIs a year, and had 11 seasons with 80 or more, 3 with 90 or more. He accumulated 1196 runs with 137 stolen bases and a .359 on base percentage. His career slugging percentage came out to .428, with a career high of .518 in 1953. He compiled 2,495 hits, with 490 doubles and 120 triples, in 8,731 at bats. He had 2,741 career total bases, with his career high coming in 1953 (315).

Coaching career

In 1961, one year after his final appearance as a player, he was given the job of managing the expansion Senators in their first year of existence. He did so from 1961 until the beginning of 1963. He had a career record of 135-227, a .373 winning percentage. He was a major league coach for the Pirates, St. Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees, managed at the AAA and AA levels of the minor leagues, and served as a batting instructor in the Yankees' farm system before retiring from baseball.

Death

In his final years he resided in Media, Pennsylvania, before dying from a stroke on September 24, 2008 at the age of 90.

Legacy

In August 2008, he was named as one of the ten former players that began their careers before 1943 to be considered by the Veterans Committee for induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2009.

Playing in four different decades (1939-60), Vernon ended his career with 2,237 games at first base, second to only Jake Beckley (2,377) in major league history. He led the American League in fielding percentage four times, and the majors two times.

He became one of the few first basemen to finish his career with a .990 fielding percentage, and participated in more double plays than anyone else.

Highlights

  • 7-time All-Star (1946, '48, '53, '54, '55, '56, '58)
  • Top 10 in MVP voting 3 times (1946, '53, '54), coming the closest in 1953 finishing 3rd behind Al Rosen and Yogi Berra
  • 2-time batting champion (1946, '53)
  • Led the league in doubles three times (1946, '53, '54)
  • Top 10 in the league in triples 9 times (1941, '43, '46, '47, '51, '52, '53, '54, '55)
  • 2nd in the league in hits twice (1946, '53)
  • Participated in 2,044 double plays, the most in major league history

See also

References

External links

Preceded by
Snuffy Stirnweiss
Ferris Fain
American League Batting Champion
1946
1953
Succeeded by
Ted Williams
Bobby Avila
Preceded by
First Manager
Washington Senators Managers
1961-1963
Succeeded by
Eddie Yost

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