|Looking over our manager's old notebook - here's his written word on the Philadelphia Athletics for 1950: |
Reviewing the team - Manager and owner Connie Mack celebrated his 87th birthday on December 23, 1949 in his stylish suit and tie with hopes that his Philadelphia Athletics would improve on its' 1949 record of 81-73, fifth best in the American League. The A's had a tough time against the Yankees, Red Sox and Tigers, losing 42 games to these three teams while winning only 24. The immensely popular Mr. Mack made some deals this past winter that should give the A's a pennant opportunity in 1950.
Anyone one who hung around the major league ballparks during this era can recall many of the A's star players. The team's mainstays were veteran outfielders Sam Chapman and Elmer Valo, shortstop Eddie Joost and pitchers Dick Fowler, Joe Coleman and war veteran Lou Brissie. Big name All-Star outfielder Barney McCosky was on the disabled list and missed most of '49, but everyone's hoping he can continue his stellar major league career.
The club tied for 4th in the league in batting (.260), scored 726 runs, hit 214 doubles, 49 triples, 82 home runs and stole 36 bases. And defensively set a new league record with 217 double plays. Their pitching staff rates better than the 4.23 ERA posted in '49, fifth in the AL. Injuries nagged the hurlers but Connie Mack has two young pitchers who can be a vital factor for moving up in the standings for 1950 - Alex Kellner and Bobby Schantz.
Rating the outfield - Sam Chapman is a big-city hero and seems to be improving the longer he plays. In '49, the 11-year A's veteran left-fielder played in all of the scheduled 154 games and hit a solid .279, lining 24 two-base hits, 24 home runs along with 108 RBIs. "Chapman is as good as it gets," says most fans. Elmer Valo, another mainstay of the Athletics' outfield, has been supplying the team with clutch-hits for 10 seasons now. Valo's rated by "those in the know" as a spectacular fielding center-fielder with a strong throwing arm. In '49, Valo led the team in batting, .283, and in stolen bases with 14. Barney McCosky, one of baseball's top all-around outfielders missed all of last season with a spine injury. The left-handed hitting Wally Moses collected his 2,000 major league hit in '49. Although, Moses is slowing down a bit, the veteran still played in 110 games, lined 19 doubles and hit .276. Paul Lehner was acquired this last winter from the St. Louis Browns and manager Mack is hoping he proves worthy of playing regularly.
The A's infield "proved to be one of the best" in the American League. The double-play combination of shortstop Eddie Joost and second baseman Pete Suder was the key to the Athletics playing eight games above .500 ball in '49. Joost was the spark in the team's smashing the double-play record last year. Beside being the driving force of the infield, Joost hit 23 homers and drove in 81 runs, and his 128 runs scored was second highest in the league. Pete Suder joined the A's way back in '41 and still plays a jump-start brand of fielding - "he's always in the right-place at the right-time". Suder hit .267, with 24 Ds, 6 Ts and 10 Hrs and collected 75 RBIs. At first base is the fiery Ferris Fain. A hard-nose, scrappy guy , Fain's hitting tailed off to only .263 in '49, but he's sure to come back strong in 1950. Bob Dillinger, the intense 3rd sacker, was purchased from the Browns last winter for $100,000 plus players. He's fast, in '49, he swiped 20 bases, hit .324 with 22 Ds and 13 Ts and rates as one of the best fielders. Tom Davis is Mack's utility infielder and hit .267 in 31 games. Little Nelson Fox appears ready to take over at 2nd base - the youngster plays an aggressive style of ball - appeared in 88 games and batted .255.
Catchers - the Athletics are loaded with fine backstops. Fermin Guera, the Cuban catcher took over last season and hit .265 in 98 games. But Connie Mack acquired the pugnacious veteran Joe Tipton from the White Sox last winter and he should prove to be the club's first-stringer in '50. Young Joe Astroth is in line for the starting job before too long. Joe handled the difficult catching chores in 55 games in '49, hitting .243.
Evaluating the pitching staff - look beyond the team's 4.23 ERA posted in '49, this staff reeks with confidence for 1950. Right-hander Dick Fowler had his best year with the A's last season, going 15-11 - despite battling bursitis all year. Fowler throws a floating knuckle ball, has great control and posted a nice 3.74 earned run average. Right-handed Joe Coleman has a strong fastball, nice change-up; his 13-14 record was down from his great work of '48. Coleman pitched in 240 innings in '49. He's in fine shape and should have a big 1950. Lefty Lou Brissie is one of the league's top throwers. The big guy, 6'4", 212 lbs., went 16-11, 4.28 ERA, in his sophomore year, despite his injured leg which occurred while serving in the military during World War II. Carl Scheib throws the fastest ball on the team. The 6'1", 192 lbs., right-hander was 9-12 in '49. But he must improve on his control - walked 118 batters in 183 innings and had a 5.11 ERA working as a starter and reliever.
Alex Kellner had a sensational rookie season gathering a 20-12 record, 3.75 ERA, and led the team with 243innings in 38 games. Kellner was the "most talked about pitcher in all of baseball," and should be the A's main man for years to come. Bobby Schantz, the little pitcher (5'7", 151 lbs.), looked impressive in '49. He surprised everyone after an operation on his arm by pitching last season - his first in the majors. Schantz looked better than 6-8 record indicates, 3.40 ERA, and could be a big winner in the near future - will be used as the club's fifth starter. Reliever Charles Harris has a big sweeping curve ball, but nice control. Harris toiled in 37 games, 84 innings. The big question mark is right-hander Phil Marchildon - nagged by a sore arm last year - he did not win a game, after winning 19 in '48 (ouch!) Doctors say he fit as a fiddle now.
Coaches - no team plays big league winning baseball without immensely knowledgeable coaches working behind the scenes. Jimmy Dykes, Mickey Cochrane, Bing Miller and Dave Keefe all brought their baseball experience "for training the guys on the squad." And trainer James Tadley certainly added to making the Athletics winners in '49. Baseballhistorian.com - manager's old notebook - Green Boxes