Mike Sandlock, catcher and infielder with three NL teams in the 1940s and 1950s, recently passed away at the age of 100. Sandlock is the 17th major-leaguer and first catcher to live 100 years.
After the jump, a look at the majors all-century team.
So, here is our team, starting with the position players.
Billy Werber is the only centenarian with significant playing time, and Sandlock the only other player with even a season’s worth of games for his career. The group is heavy with infielders, so we’ll have to move some players out of position, probably like this.
- Infield: Sandlock (C), Swanson (2B), Groskloss (SS), Cunningham (3B)
- Outfield: Otis (CF), Werber (LF), Parker (RF)
- Bench: Malinosky, Daley
No first baseman on this team so one of the bench players will have to do. Probably first base is a good spot for them, as they posted identical .833 career fielding percentages as middle infielders.
Billy Werber thrice led the AL in stolen bases, and led the NL in runs scored once. He was the everyday third baseman for the NL champion Reds of 1939 and 1940, leading Cincinnati to the world championship in the latter season with a .370/.452/.519 World Series slash.
Howdy Groskloss was a Pittsburgh native and one of two major-leaguers to go by that first name, the other being Howdy Caton, another middle infielder who played his entire career for the Bucs.
Mike Sandlock started out as a middle infielder but switched to catching midway through the season for the 1945 Dodgers. That was the second straight year that Brooklyn had a player with 20 games at catcher and at shortstop, following Bobby Bragan‘s 1944 season and representing half of all such seasons since 1901. Sandlock finished his career with the 1953 Pirates where he split catching duties with Joe Garagiola, who died two weeks before Sandlock at the age of 90.
Ace Parker, a teammate of Billy Werber‘s on the 1937-38 Athletics, was a multi-sport star who was also an All-American halfback at Duke and an NFL quarterback. Parker’s MLB career ended when he was traded for Jim Reninger, one of eight live ball era pitchers to post a Game Score lower than Batters Faced in a CG career pitching debut. Quiz: who is the only pitcher to win such a game?
Ray Cunningham played briefly with St. Louis but more frequently with Cardinal minor league affiliates, including the Texas League’s Houston Buffaloes. Cunningham finished his pro career playing for four other teams in his native Lone Star state.
Bill Otis‘s entire major league career was played over just three days, starting with an Independence Day double-header in 1912. He managed just one hit in 17 AB, but it came off of HOFer Walter Johnson.
Karl Swanson was an Illinois native who played his entire career for the White Sox. He is the only major leaguer from his high school or college.
Troy Malinosky‘s entire career was played with the 1937 Dodgers, a season in which he was a star for a week, recording a .384/.467/.423 slash in 7 complete games from May 4th to 11th.
John Daley‘s brief career for the Browns is the only one of 50+ PA with matching totals for hits and walks, and for strikeouts and total bases (Tampa Bay prosepct Jaff Decker is the only active player who currently has such career totals).
Now for our pitchers.
A bit more to work with here, including a full starting rotation of Gaston, Marrero, Stiles and Miller. Hoff, Erickson and Emig are our lefties, with Hoff able to make a spot start when needed.
Milt Gaston is the only pitcher to post a 2000 IP career with 1.5 WHIP and 10.0 H/9. He’s also the only pitcher to finish his career with nine straight losing seasons of 100+ IP.
Connie Marrero‘s 39 career wins are the most for pitchers debuting aged 39+, and make Marrero the oldest pitcher with career wins matching or exceeding his debut age. Marrero’s 111 ERA+ aged 40+ ranks in the top 10 among pitchers with 500+ IP at that age.
Rollie Stiles is one of four pitchers (all were contemporaries) to post three 80 IP seasons with H/9 over 12. That group includes Dick Coffman who was Stiles’s Browns teammate in all three of Stiles’s major league seasons, including on the 1933 club when both posted those totals. The last teams with a pair of such pitchers were not in the 1930s but in the recent past, on the Twins staffs in 1999 and 2006.
Ralph Miller‘s 1898 season and that of the year before by his teammate Jack Dunn remain the only Dodger debut seasons of 150 IP with SO/BB ratio of 0.5 or less. Miller’s 1899 season is one of 76 by pitchers with multiple hits (as batters), all of them for extra bases.
Red Hoff is the longest lived major-leaguer, attaining the age of 107 years. He and Bill Otis were teammates on the 1912 Highlanders when Hoff posted an 8.04 SO/9 ratio, the highest mark of the 20th century in a 15 IP season with as many runs allowed as strikeouts. In 1913 Hoff faced the minimum number of batters, allowing no runs or hits in 3 IP, the most by a Yankee in such a season.
Bob Wright came to the majors directly from the low minors (class C), forming a battery with his manager Roger Bresnahan in his big league debut. Quiz: who is the last pitcher to do this?
Ralph Erickson, a teammate of Howdy Groskloss on the 1930 Pirates, allowed a run (or more) in the last six appearances of his career, each a relief stint of less than 5 IP. Quiz: which teammate of Erickson’s did the same?
Charlie Emig is the only player on this team with a single game career. Emig went the distance for the Colonels in that 1896 contest, his professional pitching debut, losing to the Washington Senators by a 17-3 score. He didn’t get a lot of help from his teammates as 10 of those runs were unearned.
Next up for the Century Club is Eddie Carnett who turns 100 about the same time this year’s World Series gets underway. With his 25 games at first base for the 1944 White Sox, he’ll be a welcome addition to the club.