Charles Ernest Keller (September 12, 1916 – May 23, 1990) was an American professional baseball player. He played as a left fielder in Major League Baseball from 1939 through 1952 for the New York Yankees (1939–43, 1945–49, 1952) and Detroit Tigers (1950–51). A native of Middletown, Maryland, he batted left-handed and threw right-handed. His ability to hit massive wall reaching fly balls, and home runs, earned him the nickname "King Kong".
|Born: September 12, 1916|
|Died: May 23, 1990 (aged 73)|
|April 22, 1939, for the New York Yankees|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 14, 1952, for the New York Yankees|
|Runs batted in||760|
|Career highlights and awards|
A splendid all-round athlete at the University of Maryland, where he earned a degree in agricultural economics in 1937, Keller joined the Yankees in 1939 and quickly became the regular left fielder, with Tommy Henrich patrolling right field and Joe DiMaggio in center field. For much of ten American League seasons, Keller, DiMaggio, and Henrich formed one of the best-hitting outfields in baseball history.
Through much of his career, Keller was a feared slugger and a competent fielder. In his rookie season he hit .334 with 11 home runs and 83 RBI in 111 games. He hit three homers and batted .438 as the Yankees swept four games from the Cincinnati Reds in the World Series.
In his second MLB season, Keller hit .286 with 21 home runs, 93 RBI, 18 doubles and a career-high 15 triples. His most productive season came in 1941, when he hit .298 and posted career-highs in home runs (33) and RBI (122), while also hitting 10 triples and 24 doubles, making it his first 30-20-10 season. In 1942, he scored over 100 runs and walked over 100 times for the third straight season, slashing .292/.417/.513/.930, while also stealing a career-high 14 bases.
Following service with the United States Merchant Marine in 1944 and 1945, Keller returned as a regular with the Yankees for the 1946 season. He collected 30 home runs, 29 doubles, and 10 triples, the second of his two 30-20-10 seasons.
Keller played part-time from 1947 to 1949 while troubled by a ruptured disc in his back. He was released by the Yankees before the 1950 season and signed a two-year contract with the Detroit Tigers, serving mostly as a pinch-hitter. In 1952 he re-signed with New York in September, appearing in two games, then was released in October, marking the end of his career.
In a 13-season career, Keller was a .286 hitter with 189 home runs and 760 RBI in 1,170 games. A five-time All-Star selection, he compiled a career .410 on-base percentage and a .518 slugging average for a combined .928 OPS. He recorded a career .980 fielding percentage. In his four World Series appearances, he batted .306 with five home runs, and 18 RBI in 19 games. Keller led the American League in bases on balls twice (1940 and 1943), batting strikeouts once (1946), and On-base plus slugging percentage once (1943). He did, at one time, have the 7th highest career park-adjusted offensive winning percentage of qualified outfielders at .762. Babe Ruth tops the list at .865. Although he was sometimes overlooked by some due to the popularity of fellow outfielder and superstar, Joe DiMaggio, according to Bill James' Historical Baseball Abstract, Keller had two seasons (1941, 1946) when he was a more valuable player than DiMaggio.
His career Adjusted On-base Percentage plus Slugging (OPS+) of 152, the sum of his On-base percentage plus Slugging Average adjusted for era, stadium, and other cross-time considerations, places him number 28 on the all-time list, ahead of a retinue of dozens of Hall of Famers that includes Honus Wagner, Mike Schmidt, Frank Robinson, Duke Snider, Willie McCovey, and Reggie Jackson.
Beginning with his first of two 30-20-10 seasons in 1941, only several other players have matched the feat: Joe DiMaggio (who had done it twice before that), Willie Mays, Jim Rice, Hank Aaron, Stan Musial, Johnny Callison, and Duke Snider. Before 1941, several players had managed to have more than one 30-20-10 season including: Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Chuck Klein, Rogers Hornsby, Jimmie Foxx, Earl Averill, and Hank Greenberg. The list of players who managed it only once – which includes Mickey Mantle, Ken Williams, Ripper Collins, Mel Ott, Wally Berger, Rudy York, Ernie Banks, Dick Allen, Joe Gordon, Hack Wilson, Mike Schmidt, Ted Williams, Andre Dawson, Dave Parker, Joe Medwick, Bob Meusel, Nomar Garciaparra, Ken Boyer, Ival Goodman, Steve Finley, Goose Goslin, Al Simmons, Dave Winfield, Vladimir Guerrero, Jim Bottomley, Curtis Granderson, and Jimmy Rollins – gives some indication of the power and versatility Keller brought to the game.
Following his retirement as a player, Keller founded Yankeeland Farm and had a successful career as a horse breeder – pacers and trotters – near his hometown of Middletown, Maryland. He named many of his horses after the franchises he played for: Fresh Yankee, Handsome Yankee, Yankee Slugger and Guy Yankee. He also benefited by owning syndicated shares of several stallions, which entitled him to free stud fees. He returned to uniform as a Yankee coach from mid-1957 through 1959, serving on the 1958 world championship team.
Keller was elected to the Frederick County and Maryland Sports Hall of Fame, the Kingston Professional Baseball Hall of Fame, the International League Hall of Fame and the University of Maryland Hall of Fame. A younger brother, Hal, had only a brief big-league career as a catcher but was a long-time front-office executive.
The 1939 Cincinnati Reds season was a season in American baseball. The team finished first in the National League, winning the pennant by 4½ games over the St. Louis Cardinals with a record of 97–57. The team went on to the 1939 World Series, which it lost in four straight games to the New York Yankees.1939 World Series
The 1939 World Series featured the three-time defending champion New York Yankees against the Cincinnati Reds, who were making their first Series appearance since winning the scandal-tainted 1919 World Series. The Yankees swept the Series in four games for the second straight year, winning their record fourth consecutive title (they would later win five straight from 1949 to 1953). Yankee manager Joe McCarthy won his fifth title, tying the record held by Philadelphia Athletics manager Connie Mack.
In the 10th inning of the final game, a famous play at the plate typified the Series. "King Kong" Charlie Keller scored when he and the ball both collided with catcher "Schnoz" Ernie Lombardi, and then Joe DiMaggio also scored while Lombardi, rolling on the ground, tried in vain to retrieve the ball. Lombardi had been smacked in the groin, but the puritanical press reported it as Lombardi "napping" at the plate.
The Yankees matched the Reds in hits with 27, but out-homered them 7 to 0 and out-scored them 20-8. Keller led the Yanks with seven hits, three home runs, six RBI, eight runs scored, a .438 average and a 1.188 slugging percentage. Both teams played sterling defense for most of the series until the ninth inning of Game 4. Up until then the Reds matched the Yankees with committing just one error for the series. But Cincinnati committed a total of three errors in the ninth and 10th innings of Game 4 which led to five unearned runs, sealing the New York sweep.
Keller broke the record for most homers by a rookie in a World Series game with two in Game 3. Also in Game 3, Junior Thompson gave up five hits in 4 2⁄3 innings worked. Four of the five were home runs, tying the record for long balls allowed during a Series game set by the Cubs' Charlie Root in 1932.
Despite the loss, the Reds were an organization on the rise, having improved from eighth and last in the National League in 1937 (56–98, .364) to fourth in '38 (82–68, .547) and first as NL champions in '39. Ironically, despite being dominated by the Bronx Bombers in the 1939 Series, the Reds would return in 1940 to win the World Series while the Yankees finished behind Detroit and Cleveland in the AL pennant race, snapping their consecutive World Series streak at four.
At a cumulative time of seven hours and five minutes, the 1939 World Series is one of the shortest World Series in real time, and was shorter than the third game of the 2018 World Series that lasted 7 hours, 20 minutes and was 18 innings long.1940 Major League Baseball All-Star Game
The 1940 Major League Baseball All-Star Game was the eighth playing of the mid-summer classic between the all-stars of the American League (AL) and National League (NL), the two leagues comprising Major League Baseball. The game was held on July 9, 1940, at Sportsman's Park in St. Louis, Missouri, the home of the St. Louis Cardinals and St. Louis Browns. The game resulted in the National League defeating the American League 4–0.1940 New York Yankees season
The 1940 New York Yankees season was the team's 38th season in New York and its 40th overall. The team finished in third place with a record of 88–66, finishing two games behind the American League champion Detroit Tigers and one game behind the second-place Cleveland Indians. New York was managed by Joe McCarthy. Their home games were played at the Yankee Stadium.1941 New York Yankees season
The 1941 New York Yankees season was the 39th season for the team in New York, and its 41st season overall. The team finished with a record of 101–53, winning their 12th pennant, finishing 17 games ahead of the Boston Red Sox. New York was managed by Joe McCarthy. The Yankees played their home games at Yankee Stadium. In the World Series, they beat the Brooklyn Dodgers in 5 games.
Books and songs have been written about the 1941 season, the last before the United States became drawn into World War II. Yankees' center fielder Joe DiMaggio captured the nation's fancy with his lengthy hitting streak that extended through 56 games before finally being stopped. A big-band style song called Joltin' Joe DiMaggio was a hit for the Les Brown orchestra.1941 World Series
The 1941 World Series matched the New York Yankees against the Brooklyn Dodgers, with the Yankees winning in five games to capture their fifth title in six years, and their ninth overall.
The name "Subway Series" arose for a World Series played between two New York City teams. The series was punctuated by the Dodgers' Mickey Owen's dropped third strike of a sharply breaking curveball (a suspected spitball) pitched by Hugh Casey in the ninth inning of Game 4. The play led to a Yankees rally and brought them one win away from another championship.
The Yankees were back after a one-year hiatus, having won 13 of their last 14 Series games and 28 of their last 31.
This was the first Subway Series between the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Yankees (though the Yankees had already faced the crosstown New York Giants five times). These two teams would meet a total of seven times from 1941 to 1956 — the Dodgers' only victory coming in 1955 — with an additional four matchups after the Dodgers left for Los Angeles, most recently in 1981.1942 New York Yankees season
The 1942 New York Yankees season was the team's 40th season in New York and its 42nd overall. The team finished with a record of 103–51, winning their 13th pennant, finishing 9 games ahead of the Boston Red Sox. New York was managed by Joe McCarthy. The Yankees played home games at Yankee Stadium. In the World Series, they lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in 5 games.1942 World Series
The 1942 World Series featured the defending champion New York Yankees against the St. Louis Cardinals, with the Cardinals winning the Series in five games for their first championship since 1934 and their fourth overall.
The 1942 Cardinals set a franchise record for victories with 106. Every Cardinal—except for Harry Gumbert—was a product of the team's farm system, which had been put in place by Branch Rickey.
The Yankees won Game 1 despite a Cardinals rally, but the Cardinals swept the rest. The loss was the Yankees' first since the 1926 World Series, also to the Cardinals. They had won eight Series in the interim (a record for most consecutive series won between losses) and had won 32 out of 36 World Series games in that period, including five sweeps (1927 vs. the Pirates, 1928 vs. the Cardinals, 1932 and 1938 vs. the Cubs and 1939 vs. the Reds).1943 New York Yankees season
The 1943 New York Yankees season was the team's 41st season in New York, and its 43rd season overall. The team finished with a record of 98–56, winning their 14th pennant, finishing 13.5 games ahead of the Washington Senators. Managed by Joe McCarthy, the Yankees played at Yankee Stadium. In the World Series, they defeated the St. Louis Cardinals in 5 games.1946 Major League Baseball All-Star Game
The 1946 Major League Baseball All-Star Game was the 13th playing of the "Midsummer Classic" by Major League Baseball's (MLB) American League (AL) and National League (NL) All-Star teams.
The All-Star Game was held on July 9, 1946, at Fenway Park in Boston, Massachusetts the home of the AL's Boston Red Sox. The game resulted in the American League defeating the National League 12–0. This was the game when Ted Williams hit the only home run against Rip Sewell's famed "Eephus Pitch."1947 New York Yankees season
The 1947 New York Yankees season was the team's 45th season in New York, and its 47th season overall. The team finished with a record of 97–57, winning their 15th pennant, finishing 12 games ahead of the Detroit Tigers. New York was managed by Bucky Harris. The Yankees played their home games at Yankee Stadium. In the World Series, they defeated the Brooklyn Dodgers in 7 games. It was the first ever season of the Yankees to be broadcast live on television with WABD providing the television broadcast feed to viewers in the city.1949 New York Yankees season
The 1949 New York Yankees season was the team's 47th season in New York, and its 49th season overall. The team finished with a record of 97–57, winning their 16th pennant, finishing 1 game ahead of the Boston Red Sox. New York was managed by Casey Stengel in his first year. The Yankees played their home games at Yankee Stadium. In the World Series, they defeated the Brooklyn Dodgers in 5 games.1972 Baseball Hall of Fame balloting
Elections to the Baseball Hall of Fame for 1972 followed the system established one year earlier.
The Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) voted by mail to select from recent major league players and
elected three: Yogi Berra, Sandy Koufax, and Early Wynn.
The Veterans Committee met in closed sessions to consider executives, managers, umpires, and earlier major league players.
It also selected three people: Lefty Gomez, Will Harridge, and Ross Youngs.
The Negro Leagues Committee met for the second time and selected Josh Gibson and Buck Leonard.Hal Keller
Harold Kefauver Keller (July 7, 1927 – June 5, 2012) was an American professional baseball player and executive who served as the fourth general manager in the history of the Seattle Mariners of Major League Baseball (1984–85). Born on a farm in Middletown, Maryland, he graduated from the University of Maryland with a degree in economics and served in the United States Army during World War II. His older brother, Charlie Keller, was an All-Star left fielder with the New York Yankees and Detroit Tigers.Kinston Professional Baseball Hall of Fame
The Kinston Professional Baseball Hall of Fame was established to honor those who have made a significant contribution to professional baseball in Kinston, North Carolina. Inductions usually occur during a "hot stove" banquet in late January or early February. There were four inductees in the initial class of 1983. There were no inductees in 1986 or 1987. Grady Little was elected in 2000 but could not be inducted until 2001 due to a snow storm.
Following each person's name is the year of induction in the Hall of Fame:
Jesse Barfield (1990)
Steve Blass (1997)
Bobby Bragan (1998)
Sean Casey (2009)
Pat Crawford (1983)
Cecil Fielder (1994)
Lou Gorman (1985)
Johnny Goryl (2002)
Mike Hargrove (1992)
Charlie Keller (1983)
Clyde King (1999)
Ray Kuhlman (1989)
Grady Little (2001)
Carl Long (2003)
Gordon Mackenzie (2005)
Leo Mazzone (1993)
John McLaren (1991)
Charles Nagy (2004)
Sam Narron (1988)
Chad Ogea (2008)
Pete Peterson (1984)
Jim Price (1995)
Jay Schroeder (1996)
Stan Spence (1983)
George Suggs (1983)
Eric Wedge (2007)
Rocket Wheeler (2006)Newark Bears (International League)
The Newark Bears were a Minor League Baseball team in the International League, beginning in 1917 at the Double-A level. They played in the International League through the 1949 season, except for 1920 and part of the 1925 season. In the Bears' last four seasons in the International League (1946–1949), they were a Triple-A team, the highest classification in minor league baseball. They played their home games at Ruppert Stadium in what is now known as the Ironbound section of Newark; the stadium was demolished in 1967. The 1932, 1937, 1938, and 1941 Bears were recognized as being among the 100 greatest minor league teams of all time.Players in the Bears' early years who had Major League careers include Eddie Rommel, who pitched for the International League Newark Bears in 1918 and 1919. Harry Baldwin played three seasons for the Newark Bears (1921–1923) before playing for the New York Giants. Fred Brainard, who also played for the New York Giants 1914–1916, later played for the Newark Bears between 1922–1924 and was the Bears' player-manager in 1923 and 1924. Other former Major League players who managed the Newark Bears include Hall of Fame members Walter Johnson in 1928 and player-manager Tris Speaker in 1929–1930.Newark was a hotbed of minor league baseball from the time of the formation of the Newark Indians in 1902, and the addition of the Newark Eagles of the Negro National Leagues in 1936. A Federal League team, the Newark Peppers, played in 1915.
in 1931 Jacob Ruppert bought the Newark Bears who played at Ruppert Stadium in Newark, New Jersey, and begin building the farm system for the Yankees. In 1937, as a farm club of the New York Yankees, the Bears featured one of the most potent lineups in baseball, including Charlie Keller, Joe Gordon, Spud Chandler and George McQuinn, among others. They won the pennant by 25½ games to become known as one of the greatest minor league teams of all time. Their legacy was ensured when, after trailing 3 games to 0, they won the last four games against the Columbus Red Birds of the American Association to capture the Junior World Series.
Following the 1949 season, the Bears moved to Springfield, Massachusetts. Their departure, and the departure of the Eagles a year before, left Newark without professional baseball for nearly 50 years, until the formation of the Atlantic League Bears (see above).
One of the Bears' players, veteran pitcher George Earl Toolson, was reassigned by the Yankees to the AA Binghamton Triplets for the 1950 season. He refused to report and sued, challenging baseball's reserve clause in Toolson v. New York Yankees, which went all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. The justices upheld the clause and baseball's antitrust exemption, 7–2.Randy Gumpert
Randall Pennington Gumpert (January 23, 1918 – November 25, 2008) was a Major League Baseball pitcher, playing for five different teams throughout his career. He was born in Monocacy, Pennsylvania. His pro career began when he was signed by the Philadelphia Athletics as a free agent before the 1936 season, at the age of 18. Even before that, he threw batting practice for the Athletics in Shibe Park as far back as 1934 before he was signed to the team. He pitched three seasons of relief in Philadelphia before being traded to the New York Yankees in July 1939.Gumpert spent a few years in the minors before deciding to enter military service. He served in World War II as a member of the United States Coast Guard. After finishing his time in the military, he was able to make it to the major league roster for the 1946 season. He played well in his first season as a Yankee, earning an 11–3 record with an earned run average of 2.31. Gumpert played fewer innings the following season, but still received a 4–1 record, and the Yankees won the 1947 World Series. He continued being a relief pitcher for part of the 1948 season before he was purchased by the Chicago White Sox. He finished the 1948 season in the starting rotation for the White Sox. He spent the 1949 season in the starting rotation as well, and managed to keep his spot throughout the year despite allowing the most home runs in the American League. It was also the one season where Gumpert pitched over 200 innings, pitching 234, and the season where he pitched the most complete games and shutouts, with 18 and 3, respectively. The 1950 season saw Randy split time between the starting rotation and the bullpen.
On May 1, 1951, Gumpert became part of baseball history as he allowed Mickey Mantle's first home run. 1951 also saw Gumpert make his only all-star appearance, in which he did not pitch. On November 13, 1951, Gumpert was traded along with Don Lenhardt to the Boston Red Sox for Mel Hoderlein and Chuck Stobbs. After playing 10 games for the Red Sox, he was traded again, this time to the Washington Senators with Walt Masterson for Sid Hudson.After spending the rest of the season in Washington, both in the rotation and the bullpen, Gumpert retired. He later became a scout for the New York Yankees, managed in their farm system and served as a temporary member of the Bombers' 1957 coaching staff, when, in April, Bill Dickey stepped down due to ill health; Gumpert eventually ceded his coaching post to Charlie Keller.Stan Spence
Stanley Orville Spence (March 20, 1915 – January 9, 1983) was a Major League Baseball center fielder who played from 1940 through 1949 for the Boston Red Sox (1940–41,1948–49), Washington Senators (1942–47) and St. Louis Browns (1949). Spence batted and threw left-handed. He was born in South Portsmouth, Kentucky.
A part-time player for the Boston Red Sox during two years, Spence played his first full-season for the Washington Senators in 1942 and he responded ending third in the American League batting race with a .323 average behind Ted Williams (.356) and Johnny Pesky (.331). His most productive season came in 1944, when he hit .316 and posted career-highs with 18 home runs and 100 runs batted in. After serving in World War II in 1945, he returned to the Senators a year later and hit a career-high 50 doubles with 10 triples and 16 home runs. Spence did a second stint with Boston and ended his majors career with the St. Louis Browns. A four-time All-Star in 1942, 1944, 1946 and 1947, he also was considered in the MVP vote in 1942 and from 1945 to 1947.
Spence hit a pivotal single in the 1947 Major League All-Star Game at Wrigley Field. Prior to his at-bat, former teammate Bobby Doerr singled, stole second, and then took third on pitcher Johnny Sain's errant pickoff attempt. Spence's pinch single resulted in the final margin of 2–1.In a nine-season career, Spence was a .282 hitter with 95 home runs and 575 RBI in 1112 games. He recorded a .984 fielding percentage at all three outfield positions and at first base.
In 1983, Spence was one of the initial four inductees in the Kinston Professional Baseball Hall of Fame. Pat Crawford, Charlie Keller and George Suggs were the others.
Spence died of emphysema in Kinston, North Carolina, at age 67.Tommy Holmes
Thomas Francis Holmes (March 29, 1917 – April 14, 2008) was an American right and center fielder and manager in Major League Baseball who played nearly his entire career for the Boston Braves. He hit over .300 lifetime (.302) and every year from 1944 through 1948, peaking with a .352 mark in 1945 when he finished second in the National League batting race and was runner-up for the NL's Most Valuable Player Award.
Holmes was born in Brooklyn, New York. He attended and graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School. Holmes, one of the most popular Boston Braves especially in the twilight of his career, finished second in MVP voting in the National League in 1945 after leading the NL in hits (224), home runs (28) and doubles (47). That season, he set a modern NL record by hitting safely in 37 consecutive games from June 6 through July 8 (Bill Dahlen and Willie Keeler had longer streaks in the 1890s), a mark surpassed 33 years later in 1978 by Pete Rose with a 44-game streak that tied Keeler's and came the closest to Joe DiMaggio's MLB record 56 in 1941. Holmes struck out just 9 times in 1945, and his ratio of home runs (28) to strikeouts that season is one of the best in baseball history.
Holmes, who batted and threw left-handed, signed his first professional contract with the New York Yankees, but could not break into their outfield of Joe DiMaggio, Tommy Henrich and Charlie Keller. After three over-.300 seasons with the Yanks' top farm team, the Newark Bears, he was traded to the Braves in February 1942. Given a regular major league job at last, he hit over .300 for five consecutive seasons (1944–48). In 1948, his .325 in 139 games as the Braves' leadoff hitter help lead Boston to the NL pennant (together with slugging MVP third baseman Bob Elliott and the oft-satirized starting rotation of Spahn, Sain and pray for rain; or Spahn, Sain and a day of rain; or Spahn, Sain, Bickford and rain).
After the 1950 season Holmes, at 33, was named player-manager of the team's Class A Hartford Chiefs farm club. On June 19, 1951, with the injury-ridden parent club Braves floundering in fifth place under manager Billy Southworth, he was called back to Boston to manage his old team and serve as a pinch-hitter. It was hoped he could arouse the club and bring fans back to Braves Field. The team went 48–47 under Holmes for the remainder of 1951, finishing fourth as they did in 1949 and 1950, but when they began 1952 with a mark of 13–22 he was fired on May 31 and replaced by Charlie Grimm. The Braves finished seventh, drew only 281,000 fans, and left Boston for Milwaukee the following spring. That 61–69 stretch (.469) was Holmes' only major league managing stint.
Holmes finished the regular 1952 season pinch-hitting for the Brooklyn Dodgers and playing left field in the final inning of game 7 in the World Series against the New York Yankees, after which he managed in the Braves' and Dodgers' farm systems from 1953 to 1957. He retired with a .302 lifetime batting average with 88 home runs and 581 RBIs in his 1,320-game, eleven-year major league career. He posted a fine .989 fielding percentage in the majors, executing more double plays (37) than errors (33). Later (in 1973) he returned to the game as director of amateur baseball relations for the New York Mets, a post he held for three decades until retiring at 86.
Holmes died of natural causes at the age of 91 in an assisted-living facility in Boca Raton, Florida. He was interred in Forest Lawn Memorial Gardens in that city.