Al Veigel 1917-2012

Al Veigel

Al Veigel passed away a week or so ago. You probably haven’t heard of Al – his big league career lasted all of two games. But Veigel’s passing has significance not only for his family, but also for aficionados of baseball history.

Why is that? The answer is after the jump.

The historical significance of Al Veigel’s death is that Art Kenney (who turns 96 next week) now becomes the last living link to 1930s NL baseball. Kenney and Veigel have more than their longevity in common – both were 1930s pitchers for the Boston Bees and both had 2 game careers.

Here are the last living links to ML baseball from the first part of the 20th century. Year of death is in parentheses.

1930s Ace Parker, Mike Palagyi, Bobby Doerr, Al Brancato – fl. 2012 Art Kenney – fl. 2012
1920s Bob Cremins (2004) Al Lopez (2005)
1910s Red Hoff (1998) Bob Wright (1993)
1900s Smokey Joe Wood (1985) Harry Hoch (1981)

For the record, in Al Veigel’s debut game on Sep 21, 1939, his first two batters were both future HOFers, Paul Waner and Arky Vaughan. Veigel faced both twice, retiring Waner each time and Vaughan at least once. Veigel, though, took the loss in 2.2 IP, allowing 4 runs (all unearned) on 2 hits and 3 walks.

In other action that day:

  • Bobby Doerr and Ted Williams went hitless against the Browns. But the Red Sox still prevailed 6-2, led by Joe Cronin’s 18th HR.
  • Al Brancato was also held hitless but had 5 assists and a stolen base for the Athletics. The As, though, were edged 6-5 on a 2-run 9th-inning rally by the Tigers, led by Rudy York’s 16th HR and 3 RBI.




Al Veigel 1917-2012 — 16 Comments

  1. Wow, back-to-back posts featuring Arky Vaughan! I am embarrassed to admit that I’d never heard of him before today, even though he’s in the HOF. And it turns out that yesterday was the 80th anniversary of his major league debut. Happy anniversary, Arky!

  2. I love little slice of life stories like this. I am also struck by how well known some of the longest survivors are: Wood, Lopez and now possibly Doerr. And if Stan Musial hadn’t wasted his first 3 years in the minors as a pitcher he may also have been on this list.

  3. Ace Parker is the oldest still living pro football player and the second oldest still living baseball player. He is one of 6 still living pro foootball players from the 1930s.

    • I see that Ace is the last living player to have appeared in a game with Rogers Hornsby, on May 7, 1937. In Hornsby’s first season, he had Miller Huggins for a teammate and probably hit against Christy Mathewson.

      • In 1915 Hornsby appeared in 18 games/61 PA; Mathewson 27 games/186 innings. Possibility (that they faced each other): Small, but rather unlikely.

        In 1916 Hornsby had 139 games/550 PA; Mathewson had 12 games/65 innings* Possibility? Decent, but impossible to prove without Game Logs.

        Jamie Moyer is five players away from Hornsby, thanks to the miracle of the Oracle of Baseball; boy does Nolan Ryan come in handy.

        * I am not counting Matty’s last game for the Reds, as he faced the Cubs.

        • The likelihood is better than it appears at first glance. Rajah’s debut game was Sept 10, 1935 so he played all but two of the Cardinals’ final 20 games that year, which included a 3-game set with the Giants.

          As you say impossible to prove without game logs, but something well within the realm of probability and certainly more than a remote possibility.

          • Godd point about Hornsby’s MLB debut, I hadn’t thought of that.

            Of course, one could check the original box scores from 1915 and 1916, by digging them out out from the archives (do they still use microfilm?) of a number of major daily newspapers, as well as The Sporting News.

  4. I’m not sure how to verify this with P-I, but I would hazard a guess that Red Hoff in the table in the article may be the longest-lived ML player.

    Red, who first appeared for the New York Highlanders in 1911 at age 20, died at age 107.

    • According to Wikipedia’s list of oldest still living baseball players there is a footnote which mentions that Hoff was indeed the the longest-lived baseball player.

    • I think it could be done but it would be messy. Go to PI Batting Season Finder and click on combined years. Then sort by Year of Death and for Choose a Stat select Year of Birth => 1850 and get the report. Up comes a spread sheet with a listing of all deceased players with the year of death and the year of birth listed in adjacent columns. The note on bottom states 7100 seasons found. The trick is to paste that list into an Excel spread sheet and create a column that subtracts year of birth from year of death. But with 7100 seasons that list cannot entirely be pasted, only 3200 seasons could. What you could is to run the PI again for, say, ten year periods and then paste results onto the spread sheet. Many names would be repeated but it does not matter.

      • Thanks, Richard.

        Like you say, pretty messy. For now, I’ll just assume Hoff is the man. If he isn’t, whoever it is can’t be much older.

  5. Nice report, Doug. What a happy kid Veigel seems in that picture!

    Interesting to see the name of Bob Cremins up there. The college basketball coach Bobby Cremins announced his retirement last month. I haven’t been able to find anything that says they’re related, but their geography suggests a good possibility. Bobby Cremins is from the Bronx, NY, while Bob Cremins was from Pelham Manor, NY, which is just across the Bronx border in Westchester County.

  6. Doug, an intriguing and moving blog! The variety of your posts in HHS, from the hard-core statistical to the human interest, keep me engaged.

    Just a point of clarification …. when you say “… the last living links to ML baseball from the first part of the 20th century. ” how are you defining the first part of the century?

    As JA has noted @8, there is a Field-of-Dreams quality to Veigel’s photo, that makes me think he believed anything was possible.

    Ah, don’t we all feel the passing of time and perhaps mourn for what might have been in our own lives?

  7. Palagyi did not have much of a career. Pitched in one game, walked three and had one HBP. No one ever put the ball in play against him.

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