George McQuinn: A Forgotten Yankee

We thank Richard Chester, who wrote and sent in this post.

The Yankees have a long string of players who are well-known to the baseball world. There are the superstars such as Ruth, Gehrig, et al., and lots of lesser stars such as Rolfe, Selkirk, Bauer, McDougald et al. But there is a small group of players who have contributed significantly to the Yankees success, however brief, but are utterly forgotten.

One such player is George McQuinn who was the Yankees first-baseman during my first two years of following baseball, 1947 and 1948. He spent several years in the Yankees farm system in the 1930s. He consistently hit well but with Gehrig on first he did not have much upward mobility in the Yankee system. In 1935 he went to the Reds in an unknown transaction. After a poor season with the Reds he went back to the Yankees in another unknown transaction. He spent 1937 with the Yankees top farm team, the Newark Bears and batted .330. His teammates
on that team included Tommy Henrich, Charlie Keller and Joe Gordon. The Bears that year have been considered by many as the greatest minor league team ever. Later on he was drafted by the Browns from the Yankees via the 1937 rule 5 draft. He was to be the Browns’ regular first-baseman from 1938 to 1945.

He got off to a good start with them batting .324 and .316 in 1938 and 1939. He achieved a degree of fame with his 34 consecutive game hitting streak in 1938. At the time only Ty Cobb and George Sisler had longer such streaks in the AL. In 1939 he led the Browns in almost every offensive stat (154 G, 195 H, 101 R, 94 RBI, 37 2B, 13 3B, 318
TB). His stats dropped off in ensuing years but he did give the Browns a dependable first-baseman. He was an excellent fielder, leading the league in fielding three times and in assists twice.

He was on the AL All-Star team four times, and was a starter in 1944. He was also selected for the All-Star roster in 1945 even though no game was played. In the first game of the 1944 WS he hit a game-winning two-run homer giving the Browns a 2-1 victory. It was their first and next-to-last WS victory. He is the only member of  the
Browns to hit a WS home run.

After the 1945 season he was traded to the A’s. He had an awful year in 1946, batting only .225. They released him after the season ended.

Here he was 36 years old without a team after a poor season. Prospects for a continuation of his career looked bleak.  Yankee first-baseman Nick Etten also had a poor year and they were looking to replace him. In January 1947 they gave a contract to McQuinn but I have not been able to determine what motivated them to replace one guy who had a bad season with another one. The Yankees must have liked what they saw in McQuinn in spring training because they gave Etten his release at the start of the season.

McQuinn was installed as the regular first-baseman. He got off to a terrific start which caught everyone by surprise. I can only imagine the looks of astonishment on the faces of Yankee brass when they saw that, as of May 27, he was leading the AL in batting with a .392 BA. Another All-Star selection ensued and he was the starter. He cooled off for the remainder of the season finishing with a .304 BA, 13 HR and 80 RBI, good enough for 14th place. His OPS+ of 132 was 4th in the majors among first-basemen, 1st in the AL. He was just 2 points below Musial and 1 ahead of Greenberg.

He was a major factor in the Yankees march to the pennant. He was not overlooked by the BBWAA for the MVP voting, finishing 6th with three first place votes. All told he received MVP votes in four seasons during his career.

In 1948 he got off to another great start with a .351 BA as of May 31 and got another selection as the starting first-baseman in the All-Star game. He set an All-Star game record with his 14 TC and 14 PO. He cooled off again but this time it was a pronounced slump lasting to the end of the season. He finished at .248 with 11 HR and just 41 RBIs. The Yankees released him after the season ended and this time there was no coming back for George.

George McQuinn trivia question (not difficult): What feat has he achieved that no other MLer has?

Aside: In the 1947 MVP voting A’s SS Eddie Joost had a .206 BA and an 87 OPS+ and finished 11th in the balloting with two first-place votes (probably from the Philadelphia writers).


Comments

George McQuinn: A Forgotten Yankee — 89 Comments

  1. Richard, nice writeup, adding some details to the stat line.

    Wow,that 1947 MVP voting was strange – as you noted, McQinn got three 1st place votes (same as Ted Williams, who win the Triple Crown, for cryin’out loud…), Eddie Joost two (batting .206). I still find it hard to comprehend how Williams lost the MVP to Dimaggio (by one vote).

      • Yes, but Dimaggio was left off THREE ballots, plus he got 8th, 9th, and 10th-place votes.

        In his biography (My Turn At Bat), Williams claims that someone told him it was Boston Globe writer Mel Webb who left him off the MVP ballot. This has been researched and proven false, as Webb didn’t even vote that year.

        • True, but many players that season had a WAR higher or nearly as high as Dimaggio’s mundane (for an MVP) 5.6 so it was defensible to list him low on the ballot. Williams’s WAR, however, was over 10, well above anyone else. Clearly he was robbed of the award.

          • I think part of the reason is that some voters likely considered that the Red Sox finished in third place and a good 14 games out of a dominant Yankee team; the Red Sox of ’47 had to have finished wildly below expectations since they had won the AL the year before.

            And I realize that all of that is a stretch considering Williams won the Triple Crown…I’m just trying to rationalize the voting patterns of idiots. Maybe the press just didn’t like Williams.

    • Ted Williams won 2 MVPs, 2 triple crowns, and hit .400…..in 5 different seasons!

      And missed 3 full season between those 5!

      Not to mention missing a 3rd triple crown in 1949, losing the batting title to George Kell .342918 to .342756 (with 117 more PAs than Kell, Williams did take home the MVP that year however)

      • In 1953, with 110 PA, Williams got MVP votes (26th). I’m guessing that this is the fewest PA a position player has had who got MVP votes.

        • Joe Cronin got some votes in 1943 with only 88 plate appearances. He was technically the player/manager though.

          Earl Torgeson is a real beauty though. He finished 27th in MVP voting in consecutive years (1949 and 1950).

          1949 25 games, 113 PA, 17 runs, 4 HR, .260/.345/.450
          1950 156 games, 707 PA, 120 runs, 23 HR, .290/.412/.472

          How is possible to finish 27th in consecutive years with those stat lines?

          • 1950 I can see…he had a good year — leading the majors in plate appearances and he was one of the better base stealers of his era (despite being a first baseman). Plus only Ted Kluszewski and Gil Hodges finished ahead of him. 1949…he was clearly one person’s favorite player. Which is probably also how he got on in 1950.

          • Thanks for correcting me. Cronin hit five pinch-hit HR in 1943, including three in four PA. He had 25 RBI pinch-hitting that year, which is the record (along with Jerry Lynch and Rusty Staub).

            I’m sure that must have made quite an impression on at least one baseball writer voting for AL MVP.

        • Wow, that was a heck of a ’53 season by Williams, even in his limited playing time. A 1.410 OPS and a 267 OPS+. Not too shabby considering he was 34 years old and was coming back after basically taking two years off for the Korean War.

          As for Torgeson, that’s a real head scratcher. He got 2 points, so it’s possible that two voters put him on the ballot. He was a 3rd year player, with few established credentials. He got hurt early in the year, so it’s not like he came back from an injury and impacted a pennant race. Then, in August, when he was getting ready to come back, he hurt his thumb in an after curfew fight with a teammate and 3 soldiers. Makes no sense at all.

  2. And while it is true that McQuinn didn’t do much in his 50 or so games with the Reds by the time the Browns gave him his chance he had pretty much been knocking International League pitching senseless for 4 seasons. I sure getting started 3 or 4 years earlier would at least have given him a chance to leave a little more lasting impression at any rate. His current closest comp is Willie Montanez (who I never thought of) and also JT Snow (who I did). Another couple seasons and I suspect the Chris Chambliss and maybe Bill White would be closer to the mark.

    Great stuff Richard. As Dr. Doom has already said (sort of), I love these little history lessons.

  3. Other than that fluke 11th in the mvp year Eddie Joost proved to be a very good shortstop over the next 5 years posting WAR’s of 3.5+ in 4 of those seasons including a peak of 7.0

  4. With a semi-decent finish in 1948, McQuinn probably could have been the 1B starter in 1949 (and maybe even 1950*) for the Yanks.

    First Base was a real mixed bag that year for the Yanks.
    – Tommy Henrich (split time in the OF with 51 starts at 1B; he also played every inning at 1B in the World Series)
    – Utility man Billy Johnson had 16 starts (while spending most of his time at 3B)
    – Yankee powerhouses Dick Kryhoski, Jack Phillips and Fenton Mole contributed another 79 starts
    – Former Slugger Johnny Mize (who was the starter in the 1950 WS) and 1B of the future Joe Collins (who was the starter for 1951-53 WS) made the remaining 9 starts.
    * – If McQuinn then had a decent season in 1949, maybe the Yanks don’t trade for Johnny Mize and McQuinn could have even been involved in the the 1949-50 World Series (or maybe the Yanks just go with Joe Collins full-time earlier than they did).

    Actually, it is remarkable the Yankees were able to win the pennant in 1949. Only Yogi Berra (104 starts), Jerry Coleman (122) and Phil Rizzuto (152) mde 100+ starts in the field. I am not sure what the record is for Pennant winnwers, but I find it hard to believe a team could have LESS than 3 (for a full schedule).

    • Tmckelv, in your closing, did you mean 100+ starts at one position? ‘Cause Tommy Henrich (whom you mentioned up front) started 112 games, split between OF and 1B.

      • Yes, 1 position, thank you.

        Berra 104 starts @ C, Rizzuto 152 starts @ SS and Coleman 122 starts @ 2B.

        I was trying to make the point about stability at each position for a pennant winner.

        The OF situation was exceptionally ridiculous (Yankee greats – Woodling, Bauer, Dimaggio, Lindell, Henrich and Keller all started between 25 and 77 games in the OF – no left/center/right breakdown), but all of them were beaten out by the immortal Cliff Mapes (86 starts in OF).

        • Without being sarcastic Mapes did have an immortal arm. Probably his biggest play occurred on 7/4/49. At the Stadium the Yankees took a 3-2 lead against the Red Sox going into the top of the ninth. The Sox loaded the bases with one out, Pesky on third base. With Al Zarilla at bat menacing clouds moved in and darkened the park. The lights could not be turned on because the AL then had a rule banning their use during day games. As Raschi was preparing to deliver the pitch a strong swirl of wind arose and sent up a cloud of dust, obscuring the view of the outfield. The pitch was thrown and Zarilla hit a single to Mapes in right field. Pesky had to hold up and by the time he realized the ball was not caught it was too late. Mapes fired a strike to Yogi Berra and Pesky was out thus converting Zarilla’s “single” into a force out. The next guy made out and the Yankees had a victory.

    • Not coincidentally, the three 100+ games starters were all “up the middle” position players. CF Joe Dimaggio had a great 76-game season. This mixing-and-matching of players is what helped build KC Stengel’s reputation as a managerial genius..

      • Indeed. During Stengel’s 12-year tenure as Yankee skipper, they had just 2 player-seasons of 675+ PAs (both by Rizzuto, 1949-50). The other 15 MLB teams averaged almost 9 such seasons.

  5. I know MVP voting is more nuanced than any single statistic, but I’d be interested in seeing how things would look if the MVP was awarded to the player with the highest WAR. Ted Williams would have won in 1941, 1942 and 1947. I’d love to see a current list of MVP totals (and CY and ROY) versus a mythical list of winners if WAR was the deciding factor.

    • Since 1893 WAR MVP winners
      All players, each league
      12 Ruth
      10 Mays
      9 Bonds
      8 Hornsby
      8 Wagner
      7 Pujols
      6 Cobb
      6 Williams
      6 Mantle
      6 Rodriguez
      4 Musial
      4 Schmidt
      4 Young

      Batters only, each league
      11 Ruth (actually loses 1916 because of pitching)
      11 Wagner
      11 Mays
      10 Hornsby
      10 Bonds
      7 Cobb
      7 Schmidt
      7 Pujols
      6 Williams
      6 Mantle
      6 Rodriguez
      4 Jennings
      4 Lajoie
      4 Musial
      4 Morgan
      4 Henderson

      Pitchers only, each league
      8 Grove
      7 Clemens
      7 W Johnson
      6 Alexander
      6 R Johnson
      5 Young
      5 Mathewson
      4 Vance
      4 Roberts
      3 Nichols
      3 Walsh
      3 Cooper
      3 Newhouser
      3 Feller
      3 Wynn
      3 Drysdale (Koufax only 2, who knew)
      3 Gibson
      3 Seaver
      3 Carlton
      3 Stieb
      3 Hershiser
      3 Maddux
      3 Halladay
      3 Santana

    • Phil,

      It would probably be more interesting, for purposes of our discussion, to take one particular year and have a comprehensive discussion. I have chosen one of the most controversial years in recent memory,1987:

      1987 WAR leaders:(NL) Tony Gwynn (SDP) 8.1 // (AL) Wade Boggs (BOS) 9.1
      1987 actual MVPs:(NL) Andre Dawson (CHC) 2.7// (AL) George Bell (TOR) 5.0

      When analysing MVP votes,it’s important to remember what the storyline was at that particular time. For the writers, the narrative is often just as important as the statistics.

      • Also in 1987,
        Nolan Ryan: 2.76 ERA (1), ERA+ 142 (1), Innings 211.2 (9), K 270 (1), K/BB 3.1 (1)….Record 8-16, Cy Young 5th place.

      • Dawson, of course, led the Cubbies to their 1st WS championship in 79 years, so that was the writers narrative. Also, historically, he followed the underground railroad to escape slavery in Canada, thus making him much worthier than Tim Raines.
        After the 1986 WS you can’t give it to any Red Sox, (except Buckner, but he wasn’t very good in ’87), Nobody watches Minn., (the whole AL West was pretty weak), the Yanks weren’t as good as they’d get after the Boss was suspended, so they had to give it to somebody. Fortunately Toronto is in Ontario, not Canadia, so the cold weather doesn’t affect the underground issue we saw in the NL. Ask not why George Bell tolled, it tolled for the PA trnpk.

  6. Not counting active players, McQuinn is one of 3 position players to ever have a season of 4+ WAR for the Yankees franchise yet spend no more than 2 years with the club.

    The other 2 spent just 1 year with the franchise. Any guesses?

    • Well, I found one that I can reveal since no one would ever guess. Mike Donlin, 1901 with the Baltimore Orioles. 4.5 WAR in his only season with the franchise.

      Jack Clark only spent 1 year in pinstripes, 1988, he posted 6.5 WAR the year before and 4.2 after, but only 3.1 in the Bronx.

      I found the other one, but he (or she) is guessable so I wont reveal.

      • Ding! Topper and Doug teamed up to identify Turkey Mike Donlin and Bobby Bonds as the 2 players besides McQuinn who had a 4-WAR season for the Yankee franchise while playing no more than 2 seasons there. Donlin and Bonds each spent just 1 year with the team.

        (Donlin actually played for the 1901 Baltimore Orioles. They moved up the coast to NYC the next year, but Donlin had by then finagled his way to Cincinnati.)

        • They moved in 1903. The only two 1 year franchises are Milwaukee related, the 1901 Brewers (now Orioles via the Browns) and the 1969 Seattle Pilots (now Brewers via the American League)

  7. Did anyone answer Richard’s trivia question? — i.e., What feat has George McQuinn achieved that no other MLer has?

    My guess: He’s the only player to appear in a World Series with both the Browns and the Yankees.

    • I’ll guess without much research, the only player who has played 1B every inning of his career (counting DH)? Given some reasonable minimum playing time

      • Interesting with the subway series angle. There have actually been a fair amount of them however.

        1906 CHI
        1921 NY
        1922 NY
        1923 NY
        1936 NY
        1937 NY
        1941 NY
        1944 StL
        1947 NY
        1949 NY
        1951 NY
        1952 NY
        1953 NY
        1955 NY
        1956 NY
        Honorable mention 1985 KC-StL
        1989 Bay Area
        2000 NY

        17 of 107 (16%) all of all WS.

        LA could still get one, and Philly and Boston just missed 100 years ago
        1914 BOS NL vs PHIL AL
        1915 BOS AL vs PHIL NL

        Also Chicago just missed another 90 years ago
        1917 CHI AL pennant
        1918 CHI NL pennant
        1919 CHI AL pennant

    • That is true John.

      Three other Browns who appeared in the ’44 WS played for the Yankees. Mike Chartak played with New York in 1940 and 1942, both non-pennant years for the Yanks. Bob Muncrief and Jack Kramer finished their careers with the 1951 Yankees, but neither was able to finish that season with the club.

        • Indeed they did. I stand corrected.

          In any event, Chartak started the ’42 season with New York but finished the year with the Browns, with an stop in between with Washington.

          • My fine tuned guess – McQuinn the only player to play 2 world series for 2 different teams and not leave the city either time.

    • So apparently the regular season has begun, I had no idea. Are you going to do the daily write-ups JA? Ichiro is on pace for 648 hits this season and should reach 3000 hits around early September.

      • I’m afraid that if I ever mention that Ichiro has X hits, someone will chime in that he has X+Y hits if you count his years in NBP, and then I will retort sneeringly that if we’re lumping minor-league stats in with MLB totals, then Buzz Arlett has 450 HRs. It never ends well.

      • By the way, it’s typical that the A.P. recap of the game is headlined, “Ichiro Suzuki has four hits as Mariners beat Athletics.”

        Ichiro’s 4 hits contributed to 1 run — the insurance run in the 11th inning that made the final score 3-1.

        Meanwhile, Dustin Ackley twice drove in the go-ahead run, with a 4th-inning HR and 11th-inning single. Plus, he swiped 2nd in the 11th, enabling him to score the insurance run on Ichiro’s single.

        But why let facts get in the way of a good story?

        • John A, it’s his first game back in Japan, so it’s big news. And Ichiro is a little like Tiger Woods. For years, the stories would be something like “Tiger fires a blistering 66 in second round of ERA+ Open. He was one under par on the first nine holes with two birdies and bogeys, but went birdie, birdie, eagle to open the back nine, and holed a pitch from 45 feet on the 16th to save par after his first shot landed in a trap. To finish, Woods dropped a long birdie on the 18th-after hooking his drive, he pitched out the the fairway and hit a wedge 130 feet to the green, as the crowd roared behind him. Tiger is now in 3rd, four strokes behind the leader, Ernie Els, who shot a 64, including a hole in one on the par 3 9th.”

  8. Ref. posts 20,25,34. Sorry to reply late but I just got back after being out for a while. Your answers are not the one I am looking for. You can make a reasonable guess just by looking at McQuinn’s home page.

  9. Is it that he had his highest WAR year in his age 37 season? Even Barry Bonds didn’t manage that (BB’s was in his age 36 season.)

  10. I have decided to post the answer tomorrow morning about 8 AM Pacific time. If you guys out there solved the Shawon Dunston quiz, which ran a short while ago, this should be a piece of cake.

  11. Random one…I know it’s not on McQuinn’s home page, but shot in the dark: McQuinn has the most putouts in a single all-star game. In 1948, he stayed in the entire game and registered 14 putouts.

    Also, as noted, he was the last Brown to hit for the cycle.

  12. Hmmm….he batted .225 in 1946, followed by .304 in 1947. So maybe it has something to do with the year-to-year change in batting average? Highest one year increase? Or only player to hit over .300 following a season below .230?

    • I feel as though other players have had greater increases. Andres Galarraga went from .243 to .370 when he went from St. Louis to Colorado. I realize that there’s a huge asterisk there since Colorado pre-humidor was, well, Colorado pre-humidor, but the fact is that Big Cat definitely outdid McQuinn. The second one is a possibility.

        • Had me confused for a split second until I saw the years. I read it as George SCOTT who went from .303 to .171 in ’67 & ’68- the other way around. Mind does some funny things.

  13. As far as I can tell, he’s the only player with back to back 195 hit seasons. Mays is the only other player I can find with two 195 hit seasons, but his weren’t back to back.

  14. In his Historical Baseball Abstract (published 2001), Bill James rated McQuinn the 81st best first baseman ever. That matches up almost perfectly with career bWAR, which had him through the year 2000 with the 82nd most career WAR among players who played least 50% of their career games at first base (now, through 2011, McQuinn is at 94th using that same scale)

    Looking for comparable first basemen to McQuinn (18.6 career WAR, 110 career OPS+, 6,596 career PAs) in history based on sabr-stats, I see Dan Driessen (19.9 WAR, 113 OPS+, 6,344 PAs) and Fred Merkle (20.5 WAR, 109 OPS+, 6,426 PAs). Bill James also saw these guys a s comparable to McQuinn: he ranked Driessen at 78th and Merkle at 84th.

    James’s article in the Historical Abstract describes McQuinn’s transfer to the Reds from the Yankees in 1935 (an “unknown transaction” at b-ref) as a “conditional sale” in which the Reds bought the right to audition McQuinn but to return him to the Yankees if they decided he wasn’t worth the sale price, which is exactly what the Reds did after a couple of months. James also says that the Reds had purchased Johnny Mize from the Cardinals the previous season on the same “conditional sale” terms, and returned him, too.

    Guys who have passed McQuinn in career WAR by a first baseman since 2001: Pujols,Helton, Teixeira, Delgado, Derrek Lee, Kevin Youkilis, Adrian Gonzalez, Konerko, Ryan Howard, Prince Fielder, Justin Morneau, Joey Votto.

    • I was surprised not to see Miguel Cabrera not on your list. I did not think that he had played that many games in the outfield.

      I keep thinking of McQuinn as someone who was better than his numbers show. I think under many circumstances he would have another 3 seasons or thereabouts and maybe 10 more career WAR but of course that’s also true for many other players as well. And it would also mean that some players, maybe even some big names, would end up losing a bit especially at the end of their careers.

      I wonder if someone could make a case for which players lost the most being stuck in the minors or on the bench behind someone else? Lefty Grove, although he wasn’t stuck behind anyone? Al Rosen? Jim Gentile? Maybe Elston Howard?

      • Don’t forget that Cabrera also played 3rd. His first year was basically split between left and 3rd with a few more games in left. Next two years were mostly OF, next two mostly 3rd, and now 4 years of mostly 1b. Despite all those changes, he’s had negative defensive WAR every year of his career.

        • And now back to 3rd to accommodate Prince, I wonder when he’s all done how we will categorize Cabrera? Seems a lot like Gary Sheffield, stud on offense, horrible on defense/often a DH.

          • Generally a good comparison Topper. Main differences are that Cabrera has been healthier at a young age and his defensive WAR stats aren’t quite as bad as Sheffield.

          • That and he’s got almost double the WAR that Sheffield had at age 28(40.2 to 20.8). Part of this is durability. Sheff missed a lot of time early in his career, but Cabrera overall has been the better hitter early in his career, with a 149 OPS+ to Gary’s 138. Cabrera on the other hand has the second most games played in baseball since 2004.

            It seems odd to me for the Tigers to have their two elite power hitters be two of the most durable players in baseball. Prince Fielder leads all of baseball in games played since 2006, with Cabrera fourth overall. But all that could change in an instant, I suppose.

          • Just looking at oWAR, they’re much closer: 45.6 vs. 32.3. Sheffield also missed playing time due to the work stoppages in ’94 and ’95. Otherwise he’d probably be around 35 oWAR.

        • I remembered all too well about his previous 3rd base experience and am more than a little concerned about his return there this season (since I’m a Tigers fan). I just didn’t think that he had played as much outfield as he has.

  15. This is a great post/essay by Richard. and lots of not quite lost minor league history pops up in the comments, too- McQuinn’s career in the minors, Buzz Arlett’s (thanks, John A.).

    Is it more sad that McQuinn is forgotten as a Yankee after two years, or that he is forgotten as a Saint Louis Brown after eight?

    The situation reminds me a bit of Dick Allen, spending all those years as a Philly, and yet his most memorable for many is probably as the 1972 AL MVP with the White Sox. Allen isn’t exactly forgotten, of course. and incidentally, dWAR sure hates him, unlike McQuinn…

    I am starting to wonder if just breaking even with b-ref’s dWAR (which is what McQuinn did, with .9 dWAR) over a career is an achievement in and of itself.

    On a separate point about McQuinn I wonder if the Yankees took a shot on him in 1947 because they knew him from their farm system before his success with the Browns.

    • Your last sentence is a good point. George Weiss was in charge of the Yankee farm system starting in the 1930s and perhaps he and McQuinn had a good relationship.
      Another point: If the Yankees knew that 1938 would be Gehrig’s last full year would they have taken steps to protect McQuinn from the rule 5 draft.

      • Good point, Richard, about protecting McQuinn.

        The Yankee first basemen between Gehrig and McQuinn were Babe Dahlgren, Johnny Sturm, Buddy Hassett and Nick Etten. All but Etten were washouts. Yet, before Etten arrived in 1943, the Yankees still won 3 pennants and 2 World Series from 1939-42 with far below replacement level performance at 1B.

        Etten had three good seasons in 1943-45 (avg 18 HR, 103 RBI, 134 OPS+). Very astute of the Yankees to realize that Etten was done after his decline in 1946 at just age 32.

  16. As a result of PI research I did in response to Andy’s April 1 article of fewest GIDPs in a season I discovered this factoid about McQuinn. In 1944 he had 1 GIDP in 623 PA. That makes him 1 of pnly 12 players to have 623 or more PA in a season and have either 0 or 1 GIDP.

  17. Hello Richard. I may be able to give you some background on George McQuinn, to answer some the questions that have been posed, as I am fortunate enough to be one of his (two) sons-in-law, and enjoyed many a bourbon over ice with George in his living room in the last few years of his life. (George’s second daughter and I have been married since 1974) George told me many stories about his minor league days, and of being sent to Cincinnati in 1936 where the manager (Chuck Dressen)tried to force him to become a pull hitter, thus destroying his very natural ‘inside-out swing’. Dressen used to stand behind the batting cage and yell,”Pull The Ball”!!! every time George was in the cage. George told me did not know whether he was coming or going. After he finally got to the majors in 1938 he was able to swing like he wanted to and went right back to posting good numbers. George grew up in Ballston, VA, which is today part of Arlington, VA, right across the Potomac from D.C., where Bucky Harris played and managed for many years with the Senators. George may have met Bucky in the late 1920s and over the years as George rose through the minors and majors their friendship grew, as they saw each other at sports banquets in D.C. in the off season, and of course during the regular season when the Browns or The A’s played the Senators. After Connie Mac released George following the 1946 season, George returned home to Arlington, VA.
    His back had always hurt him since his minor league days (he hurt it sliding) and it really bothered him in 1946. (He failed the U.S. Army physical exam three times during WW2 while with the Browns, and was 4-F because of his bad back.) His younger brother, Kenneth, was not so lucky. The Tigers wanted to sign Kenneth but he enlisted in the Navy, and died at Normandy, just off Omaha Beach in the pre-dawn darkness of June 6, 1944, when his small naval craft struck a mine and flipped over killing most of the crew. Note: A young “Larry” Berra, and future Yankee teammate of George, was in a similar small craft nearby, launching rockets at the enemy forces opposing the Omaha Beach Landings. George told me that during the 1944 World Series in St. Louis, a young sailor was admitted to the Browns clubhouse, because he had been a shipmate of Kenneth’s, and the sailor told George about the incident and assured George that Kenneth did not suffer. When George got home after the 1946 season he figured his career was over. He worried over the winter about how he would make a living. My mother-in-law told me later that she suggested that he call Bucky Harris and see if the Yankees would give him a tryout with no strings attached. George told Bucky he would pay his own expenses to Florida, and if he was cut from the team, he would pay his own expenses back to Virginia. George was invited to the Yankee spring training camp in 1947, and I think just putting on the pinstripes did something for him. George had idolized Lou Gehrig as long as he could remember, so to play for the Yankees was a dream come true. George could always field, so hitting was his worry at this point. George had a great spring in 1947 and the Yankees immediately sent him to one of the top surgeons in New York City right before the season started. They diagnosed a slipped disk or something and fitted him with a back brace and told him to do certain exercises, and away he went. George was such a gentleman and the fans in New York really took to him in the way he hit and fielded. His teammates liked him too, a soft-spoken ‘southern gentleman’ in the best sense of that term, always kind and respectful to everyone regardless of race or religion, etc. The fans had a big day for him (in 1948?) where they gave him a new car and some other gifts. At the end of 1948, and even during the World Series the year before, he told me later that his bat felt like it weighed a ton, and he was tired. I remember George driving over to Georgetown Hospital in D.C. in the late 1970s to see Bucky Harris when Bucky was in the hospital on several occasions. George liked Bucky personally, and was grateful for Bucky giving him a chance with the Yanks. George told me so many great stories. HBO films borrowed a few of the color ‘home’ movies that George took as a player, including the film George took of Babe Ruth at Yankee stadium in August, 1948, right before Babe died. Part of the HBO series “When It Was a Game.” Bob Ueker’s book, Catcher in The Wry, has a wonderful description of what George was like to play for as a minor league manager for the Boise Braves in the 1950s. Sorry to have blabbered on for so long. Happy to answer any questions you have.

    Bill McClellan
    Herndon, VA

  18. Bill: This is to let you know how thrilled I was to read your reply. You are not going to believe this but I had said to myself that perhaps a relative of George would somehow find this post. I had always wondered how George had latched on to the Yankees. I see that I was right about George having a good spring training in 1947. (And then of course there was the Yankee uniform.) Unfortunately the Yankees were not on TV until 1949 so I only got to see him play when I went to the games in person. I cannot recall the George McQuinn Day at the Stadium. It was common in those days to have such ceremonies for the players. Nowadays, with all the money the players are making, such a ceremony would be ridiculous.

    George, along with Tommy Henrich, was one of my first two favorite players.

    One question I have is how did you find out about my article.

    Sincerely, Richard Chester

  19. Hi Richard: Thank you for your note. I think I found your site because I was looking online to see if there was anything new in the last year about the St. Louis Browns, or George McQuinn, and somehow I saw the article George McQuinn: The Forgotten Yankee.
    Also, your comment about seeing George only at the stadium reminds me of a fan letter George kept in his very most personal papers that we found as we were moving some of his papers around a couple of years ago, written by a 12-year old girl from Tarrytown, NY in 1947, on lined school paper, in pencil, and sent to Yankee Stadium, addressed to Mrs., yes, Mrs. George McQuinn. The little girl introduced herself in the letter to George’s wife, and then went on to tell Mrs. McQuinn just how lucky she was to be married to George, and what a wonderful player George was, and how whenever she played baseball with the neighborhood kids, including her three older brothers, they would tease her unmercifully by saying as she came to bat, “Up Steps Mrs. McQuinn…” The little girl said their taunts made her cry but that George was still her favorite player. The little girl said something about not being able to get to too many games but she listened faithfully on the radio and maybe caught a glimpse on an early TV broadcast. Through the ‘miracle’ of Google, and because she had married and stayed in the same general area, and had an uncommon spelling of her first name, I was able to track her down a couple of years ago and wrote her about the letter, telling her that it had obviously meant a lot to George, and that I knew George would want her to have the original letter returned to her by mail, which I did after she contacted me to say it was OK to mail it to her.
    She was thrilled to get it back, with the only note of sadness being that she could not share the news with her three brothers, all of whom had since passed on. Who says baseball is boring and not important? They just don’t get it. It binds us together across generations and gives us solace.
    Regards, Bill

  20. I must have been preoccupied and missed this post in March and just read through it. Today’s exchange makes what was a wonderful post and discussion the best I’ve yet encountered in a year’s enjoyment of this blog.

  21. I somehow also missed this article when it first ran, so happy to see that it pulled back to the top of the comments list thanks to Bill’s posting. Great stuff.

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