Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Today's African American fact from baseball's "Golden Era" (1947 - 1960)

On March 25, 1959; the San Francisco Giants traded infielders Bill White along Ray Jablonski to the St. Louis Cardinals for pitchers Sam Jones and Don Choate.
Despite their third place National League finish in 1958, the Giants were 16 games behind the first place Milwaukee Braves and needed more starting pitching.  “Toothpick” Sam Jones could give the immediate help they desired.  Although the Cardinals did not give him a lot of run support in 1958, he still won 14 games with a 2.88 ERA.  At 32 years old; Jones also struck out 229 batters, leading the league for the third time.  The Cardinals had finished fifth and were looking to improve their overall lineup.
Bill White hit 22 home runs for the Giants in 1956 as a first baseman/outfielder.  He missed 1957 due to military service and upon return to the team had more competition for playing time.  Orlando Cepeda, the National League’s 1958 Rookie of the Year was the Giant first baseman and top prospect Willie McCovey was ready to come up from the minor leagues.  The outfield alongside Willie Mays was also crowded with Willie Kirkland, Leon Wagner, Jackie Brandt, and Felipe Alou.  The 24 year old White played in only 26 games in 1958. 
The Giants received the immediate benefit they desired from Jones as he became their best starting pitcher winning 21 games in 1959 and 18 in 1960.  However, they never won a pennant with him; finishing a close third in 1959.

The Cardinals received more long term benefit from the younger White.  From 1959 – 1965, his time with the Cardinals, he hit over .300 four times; never hitting below .280.  A six time Gold Glove inning fielder at first base, White made five All-Star Game appearances and was one of the leaders on the Cardinals’ 1964 World Series Championship team.
What are your favorite memories of “Toothpick” Sam Jones and Bill White?

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