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Oscar Gamble
Outfielder / Designated hitter
Born: December 20, 1949 (1949-12-20) (age 60)
Ramer, Alabama
Batted: Left Threw: Right 
MLB debut
August 27, 1969 for the Chicago Cubs
Last MLB appearance
August 8, 1985 for the Chicago White Sox
Career statistics
Batting average     .265
Home runs     200
Runs batted in     666

Oscar Charles Gamble (born December 20, 1949, in Ramer, Alabama) is a former outfielder and designated hitter in Major League Baseball. He played for 17 seasons, from 1969 to 1985, on seven different teams: the Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees on two separate occasions, as well as the Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia Phillies, Cleveland Indians, San Diego Padres, and Texas Rangers.

Gamble was discovered playing baseball in a semi-professional league by legendary Negro League baseball player Buck O'Neil, who was working as a scout for the Chicago Cubs at the time. O'Neil convinced the Cubs to draft Gamble, which they did in the sixteenth round. [1]

Nicknamed the Big O by Yankees announcer Phil Rizzuto, Gamble was a relatively small man, listed at 5 feet, 11 inches tall and 165 pounds. He still hit 200 career home runs in just over 4500 major league at bats, an impressive ratio for the era he played in. A deadly left-handed pull-hitter against right-handed pitching, Oscar's career peaked in 1977 with the White Sox, when he hit 31 home runs and tallied 83 RBI. After an ill-fated, injury-plagued year in San Diego, he returned to the American League in 1979 to hit a career-best .358 batting average, slamming 19 home runs with the Yankees and Rangers. (His 274 at bats were not enough to qualify him for the American League batting title.)

Unlike some players who failed to cope with the New York media, Oscar thrived on it, and was always a favorite with sportswriters.[2] Gamble, whose hitting prowess was overshadowed by his famously large Afro hair, has the distinction of logging the last hit and RBI at Philadelphia's Connie Mack Stadium on October 1, 1970. His 10th-inning single gave the Phillies the 2-1 win in the stadium's final game. Coincidentally, that feat was also overshadowed as unruly fans stormed the field during and after the game to claim bases, infield dirt, seats, and other various stadium items.

In 1976, Gamble helped the Yankees return to prominence as the "Bronx Bombers" won their first American League pennant in 12 seasons, hitting 17 home runs and 57 RBI. His left-handed power stroke was ideal for the renowned short right field fence at Yankee Stadium. Returning to the Yankees in 1979, he would settle into a limited role with the team, aiding the Yankees once again to an AL East division title in 1980 and a World Series appearance in 1981.

Notably, Gamble also finished with more career walks (610) than strikeouts (546). He was considered a below-average fielder, and consequently played over a third of his games as a designated hitter, but he had a good arm. He played in the 2007 Yankee Old Timers Game with many Yankee players that were honored from the 1977 championship team.

He is quoted to have given his advice about the game with this famous quote: "They don't think it be like it is, but it do."

See also


  1. ^ The Soul of Baseball A Road Trip through Buck O'Neil's America, Author Joe Posnanski (P. 58-60)
  2. ^ ed. by David Pietrusza .... (2000), Baseball : the biographical encyclopedia, Kingston, NY: Total/Sports Illustrated, p. 392, ISBN 1892129345  

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