Eddie Mathews

Edwin Lee Mathews (October 13, 1931 – February 18, 2001) was an American Major League Baseball (MLB) third baseman.[1] He played 17 seasons for the Boston, Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves (1952–66); Houston Astros (1967) and Detroit Tigers (1967–68).[1] Inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1978[2], he is the only player to have represented the Braves in the three American cities they have called home.[2] He played 1,944 games for the Braves during their 13-season tenure in Milwaukee—the prime of Mathews' career.

Mathews is regarded as one of the best third basemen ever to play the game.[3][4] He was an All-Star for nine seasons[5]. He won the National League (NL) home run title in 1953 and 1959 and was the NL Most Valuable Player runner-up both of those seasons. He hit 512 home runs during his major league career. Mathews coached for the Atlanta Braves in 1971, and he was the team's manager from 1972 to 1974.[6] Later, he was a scout and coach for the Texas Rangers, Milwaukee Brewers, and Oakland Athletics.[6]

Eddie Mathews
Edwin Lee Mathews head shot, circa 1963
Mathews c. 1963
Third baseman / Manager
Born: October 13, 1931
Texarkana, Texas
Died: February 18, 2001 (aged 69)
La Jolla, California
Batted: Left Threw: Right
MLB debut
April 15, 1952, for the Boston Braves
Last MLB appearance
September 27, 1968, for the Detroit Tigers
MLB statistics
Batting average.271
Hits2,315
Home runs512
Runs batted in1,453
Managerial record149–161
Winning %.481
Teams
As player

As manager

Career highlights and awards
Member of the National
Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Baseball Hall of Fame Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg Empty Star.svg
Induction1978
Vote79.42% (fifth ballot)

Early years

Mathews was born in Texarkana, Texas. He was six years old when his family moved to Santa Barbara, California. The Santa Barbara High School baseball field, where he developed into a star high school baseball player, is named after him. Mathews was signed by the Boston Braves in 1949. He played 63 games that year for the Class D High Point-Thomasville Hi-Toms, where he hit 17 home runs and earned a .363 batting average. The next year he hit 32 home runs for the Class AA Atlanta Crackers.[7]

MLB career

Boston, Milwaukee, and Atlanta Braves

Mathews was brought up to the major leagues in 1952, Mathews hit 25 home runs, including three in one game. In 1953 the Braves moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin where he batted .302, hit 47 home runs, and drove in 135 runs. For nine straight seasons he hit at least 30 home runs, including leading the National League twice (1953, 1959).

As one of 1954's superstars in American sports, Mathews was chosen for the cover of the first-ever issue of Sports Illustrated magazine. Around this time, Ty Cobb said of Mathews: "I've only known three or four perfect swings in my time. This lad has one of them."

Ed Mathews Munsingwear ad
Mathews in a 1958 ad from Life magazine.

Mathews was a powerful pull hitter, and for many years of his career teams would implement the "Mathews shift" when he came to bat. The second baseman would shift well to his left, toward first base, and the shortstop would come to the second base side of the bag, leaving a gaping hole between second and third base. Mathews delighted in occasionally punching the ball through that hole.

The Braves won the 1957 National League championship. In the World Series, Mathews hit a game-winning home run in the tenth inning of game four. The Braves went on to defeat the New York Yankees to win the Series. Mathews made the final putout of the Series, a forceout of Gil McDougald on Moose Skowron's hard-hit grounder.

Mathews was regarded as one of the strongest power hitters of his time, often being compared to American League contemporary Mickey Mantle, in terms of power hitting strength. Hall-of-Fame teammate Warren Spahn once said of the two: "Mathews is just as strong as Mantle. They don't hit the same – Mantle gets all of his weight into his swing; Mathews uses his wrists more." Spahn's comment on Mathews' use of his wrists was in reference to his unique swing, as believed by many to be one of the more graceful swings in baseball history. He is the only player to play for the Braves in Boston, Milwaukee, and Atlanta, and the last active Boston Brave.

Mathews is also one of only two players to homer with a teammate in the same game at least 50 times with two different teammates. He did this with Henry Aaron 75 times and with Joe Adcock 56 times.[8] Willie Mays is the other, with Willie McCovey (68) and Orlando Cepeda (50), to do it.

Between 1954 and 1966 he and Braves teammate Hank Aaron hit 863 home runs (Aaron 442, Mathews 421), moving ahead of the Yankees duo of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig as the all-time leaders in major league history.

Houston Astros and Detroit Tigers

Mathews was traded to the Houston Astros before the 1967 season. That year, he became the seventh player to hit 500 career home runs, becoming a member of the 500 home run club on July 14 coming off pitcher Juan Marichal of the San Francisco Giants at Candlestick Park. During the 1967 season, Mathews was traded from the Astros to the Detroit Tigers. His final appearances came in two games of the 1968 World Series, as the Tigers defeated the St. Louis Cardinals.

Upon his retirement, he was sixth in all-time home runs with 512. Over his career, he was named to the All-Star team twelve times (MLB held two All-Star Games from 1959 through 1962),[9] played in three World Series, and drove in 100 or more runs five times. He never won an MVP award (finishing second twice, behind Roy Campanella in 1953 and behind Ernie Banks in 1959), although he did win the NL Player of the Month award in September 1959 (.303, 11 HR, 25 RBI).

Coaching and managing

In 1971, Mathews became a coach, and then in the midseason of 1972, manager of the Atlanta Braves.[6] Mathews is one of the few players to play, coach, and manage for the same baseball team. The Braves were 47-57 under Lum Harris and in fourth place in the National League West Division when Mathews took command on August 7. The 1972 Braves finished 23–27 under Mathews as manager, ending up 25 games behind the Cincinnati Reds. The 1973 Braves then finished fifth (76–85), 2212 games out of first place.[10]

Mathews was the Braves' manager when Hank Aaron hit his 715th home run on April 8, 1974. But on July 21, 1974, Mathews was fired when the team went into a slump and fell into fourth place with a 50–49 record. Aaron and Darrell Evans both criticized the decision to terminate Mathews. Evans said that Mathews was a friend and Aaron said that the decision was "a blow to me."[10] Mathews said that the Braves indicated that there would be a job for him within the organization, but he said he was not sure what he would do next.[11] The Braves went 149–161 (.481) during Mathews' time at the helm.

After retirement

BravesRetired41
Eddie Mathews's number 41 was retired by the Atlanta Braves in 1969.

Mathews was elected to the Wisconsin Athletic Hall of Fame in 1976. In 1978, Mathews was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He ranks second all-time among MLB third basemen in home runs, runs batted in, slugging percentage, and total bases.

In 1982, Mathews was a minor league baseball instructor for the Oakland Athletics when a spot was found on his lung. He was ultimately admitted to the hospital to investigate it. Doctors ruled out cancer, but Mathews was diagnosed with tuberculosis. He was treated and returned to his work with the Oakland organization.[12]

In 1999, The Sporting News ranked Mathews 63 on their list of 100, "Baseball's Greatest Players".[13] He also nominated that year as a finalist for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team.

Personal life

Mathews was married to Virjean Lauby in 1954 and they divorced in 1970. He was married and divorced a second time, then married Elizabeth Busch Burke, daughter of brewing executive Gussie Busch, in 1977.[14][15]

Sportswriter Bob Wolf of the Milwaukee Journal indicated that Mathews' election to the Baseball Hall of Fame may have been delayed because of his cool relationship with the media. Mathews seemed to resent the intrusion of reporters in his personal life, especially early in his career. He gestured with his fist at a reporter when he was in court on charges of reckless driving. He was angered by the presence of the media at his 1954 wedding ceremony at a county clerk's office.[14]

Death

In February 2001, Mathews died from complications of pneumonia in La Jolla, California, and was buried in Santa Barbara Cemetery. Later that year during the baseball season, the Atlanta Braves honored Mathews with the placement of patches bearing his retired uniform number, 41, on their jerseys.

See also

References

  1. ^ a b "Eddie Mathews statistics". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved December 26, 2011.
  2. ^ a b "Eddie Mathews at the Baseball Hall of Fame". baseballhall.org. Retrieved December 31, 2011.
  3. ^ James, Bill (2001). The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract. New York: Free Press. p. 539. ISBN 0-684-80697-5.
  4. ^ "Eddie Mathews at the Baseball Hall of Fame". baseballhall.org. Retrieved April 10, 2015.
  5. ^ MLB held two All-Star Games from 1959 through 1962.
  6. ^ a b c SABR, Eddie Mathews [1] Retrieved April 10, 2015
  7. ^ "Eddie Mathews Minor League Statistics and History". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved November 22, 2014.
  8. ^ Alex Cobb's historic 13-strikeout, 14-out performance ESPN
  9. ^ Donnelly, Patrick. SportsData LLC. (2012). Midsummer Classics: Celebrating MLB's All-Star Game. 1959–1962, "all players who were named to the AL or NL roster were credited with one appearance per season" [2]. SportsData http://www.sportsdatallc.com. Retrieved April 10, 2015.
  10. ^ a b "Braves fire Eddie Mathews". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. July 22, 1974. Retrieved November 22, 2014.
  11. ^ "Eddie Mathews is fired by Braves". The Dispatch (Lexington). July 20, 1974. Retrieved November 22, 2014.
  12. ^ Bierig, Joel (March 18, 1983). "At last, Eddie Mathews is enjoying his ties with baseball". The Miami News. Retrieved November 22, 2014.
  13. ^ 100 Greatest Baseball Players by The Sporting News : A Legendary List by Baseball Almanac
  14. ^ a b Wolf, Bob (January 22, 1978). "Early years slowed Mathews' selection". Milwaukee Journal. Retrieved November 22, 2014.
  15. ^ "February weddings". The Bryan Times. February 21, 1977. Retrieved November 22, 2014.

External links

Preceded by
Vern Law & Willie McCovey
Major League Player of the Month
September 1959
Succeeded by
Roberto Clemente
1954 Milwaukee Braves season

The 1954 Milwaukee Braves season was the second in Milwaukee and the 84th overall season of the franchise.

1955 Milwaukee Braves season

The 1955 Milwaukee Braves season was the third in Milwaukee and the 85th overall season of the franchise.

1957 Milwaukee Braves season

The 1957 Milwaukee Braves season was the fifth in Milwaukee and the 87th overall season of the franchise. It was the year that the team won its first and only World Series championship while based in Milwaukee. The Braves won 95 games and lost 59 to win the National League pennant by eight games over the second-place St. Louis Cardinals.

The club went on to the 1957 World Series, where they faced the New York Yankees. Pitcher Lew Burdette was the star and Most Valuable Player, winning three games, including the crucial seventh game played in New York City.

1957 World Series

The 1957 World Series featured the defending champions, the New York Yankees (American League), playing against the Milwaukee Braves (National League). After finishing just one game behind the N.L. Champion Brooklyn Dodgers in 1956, the Braves came back in 1957 to win their first pennant since moving from Boston in 1953. The Braves won the Series in seven games, behind Lew Burdette's three complete game victories. The Braves would be the only team besides the Yankees, Dodgers, or Giants to win a World Series title in the 1950s.

The Yankees had home field advantage in the series. Games 1, 2, 6, and 7 were played at Yankee Stadium, while Milwaukee County Stadium hosted Games 3, 4, and 5. This was the first time since 1946 that the Series included scheduled off days after Games 2 and 5.

Of the previous ten World Series, the Yankees had participated in eight of them and won seven. This was also the first World Series since 1948 that a team from New York did not win.

This is the first of four Yankees-Braves matchups, and the only Series that was won by the Braves; they lost in 1958, 1996 and 1999, with the last two instances occurring with the Braves based in Atlanta.

Hank Aaron led all regulars with a .393 average and eleven hits, including a triple, three home runs and seven RBI.

As of April 2015, four original television broadcasts from this Series (Games 1, 3, 5 and 6) had been released on DVD.

1958 Major League Baseball All-Star Game

The 1958 Major League Baseball All-Star Game was the 25th playing of the midsummer 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 8, 1958, at Memorial Stadium in Baltimore, Maryland, the home of the Baltimore Orioles of the American League.

This was the first Major League Baseball All-Star Game without an extra base hit.For this Diamond Jubilee game, the opening pitch was made by U.S. Vice President Richard Nixon, who was to become President 10 years later. The attendance was 48,829. The game was broadcast on the NBC television and radio networks.

The first hit of the game was by legendary center fielder Willie Mays. The last scoring came in the sixth inning when the American League team took the lead after an error by third baseman Frank Thomas led to a single by Gil McDougald. Early Wynn was the winning pitcher as the American League scored a 4-3 victory.

Several players were named to the team but did not get into the game. These included Billy Pierce, Tony Kubek, Harvey Kuenn, Sherm Lollar, Rocky Bridges, Ryne Duren, Whitey Ford, and Elston Howard for the American League. For the National League team, Johnny Antonelli, Richie Ashburn, George Crowe, Eddie Mathews, Don McMahon, Walt Moryn, Johnny Podres, Bob Purkey, and Bob Schmidt were on the roster but did not play.

The next All-Star Game to be played in Baltimore was in 1993; that edition was aired on both CBS TV and radio, and played in Oriole Park at Camden Yards, with a special commemoration of this game's 35th anniversary.

1958 Milwaukee Braves season

The 1958 Milwaukee Braves season was the sixth in Milwaukee and the 88th overall season of the franchise. The Braves finished first in the National League with a 92–62 record and returned to the World Series for the second consecutive year, losing to the New York Yankees in seven games. The Braves set a Major League record which still stands for the fewest players caught stealing in a season, with 8.

1958 World Series

The 1958 World Series was a rematch of the 1957 World Series, with the New York Yankees beating the defending champion Milwaukee Braves in seven games for their 18th title, and their seventh in 10 years. With that victory, the Yankees became only the second team in Major League Baseball history to come back from a 3–1 deficit to win a best-of-seven World Series; the first was the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1925. (The 1903 Boston Red Sox came back from a 3–1 deficit in a best-of-nine affair.) These teams would meet again in the fall classic thirty-eight years later—by that time, the Braves had moved to Atlanta. As of 2017, this is the most recent World Series featuring the two previous Series winning teams.

1959 Major League Baseball All-Star Game (first game)

The 1959 Major League Baseball All-Star Game was the 26th playing of the midsummer classic between the all-stars of the American League (AL) and National League (NL), the two leagues composing Major League Baseball. The game was played on July 7, 1959, at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, home of the Pittsburgh Pirates of the NL. The game resulted in a 5–4 victory for the National League. An unprecedented second game was scheduled for later in the season in Los Angeles, California.

1960 Major League Baseball All-Star Game (second game)

The second 1960 Major League Baseball All-Star Game was the 29th playing of Major League Baseball's annual midsummer exhibition game. The game took place at Yankee Stadium in New York City, home of the American League's New York Yankees. The National League won the game by a score of 6–0. The National League hit four home runs, tying an All-Star Game record.

1960 Milwaukee Braves season

The 1960 Milwaukee Braves season was the eighth for the franchise in Milwaukee, and the 90th overall. The Braves finished in second place in the NL with a record of 88–66, seven games behind the NL and World Series Champion Pittsburgh Pirates.

1963 Milwaukee Braves season

The 1963 Milwaukee Braves season was the 11th in Milwaukee and the 93st overall season of the franchise.

The sixth-place Braves finished the season with a 84–78 (.519) record, fifteen games behind the National League and World Series champion Los Angeles Dodgers. The season's home attendance was 773,018, ninth in the ten-team National League.

1967 Houston Astros season

The 1967 Houston Astros season was a season in American baseball. It involved the 69–93 Astros ninth-place finish in the National League, 32½ games behind the NL and World Series Champion St. Louis Cardinals.

1972 Atlanta Braves season

The 1972 Atlanta Braves season was the seventh season in Atlanta along with the 102nd season as a franchise overall.

1978 Baseball Hall of Fame balloting

Elections to the Baseball Hall of Fame for 1978 introduced a new system that would continue to 1994. The special committee on Negro Leagues had disbanded after its 1977 meeting. Two of its members were appointed to the Veterans Committee, as part of expanding that body from twelve to eighteen members, and its responsibilities were extended to cover the Negro Leagues. Where the special committee had elected nine people in seven years from 1971, the expanded Veterans Committee would elect two in seventeen years up to 1994, before the next reform.

The Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) voted by mail to select from recent major league players and

elected Eddie Mathews.

The Veterans Committee met in closed sessions to consider older major league players as well as managers, umpires, executives, and figures from the Negro Leagues.

It selected Addie Joss and Larry MacPhail.

1978 Major League Baseball All-Star Game

The 1978 Major League Baseball All-Star Game was the 49th midseason exhibition between the all-stars of the American League (AL) and the National League (NL), the two leagues comprising Major League Baseball. The game was played on July 11, 1978, at San Diego Stadium in San Diego, home of the San Diego Padres of the National League. The game resulted in a 7-3 victory for the NL.

This was the first All-Star Game to be played in San Diego. It would return in 1992 to be played in the same stadium, though it was renamed Jack Murphy Stadium by that time.

The honorary captains were Brooks Robinson (for the AL) and Eddie Mathews (for the NL).

Augie Donatelli

August Joseph Donatelli (August 22, 1914 – May 24, 1990) was an American umpire in Major League Baseball who worked in the National League from 1950 to 1973. Highly regarded for his ability, he was also known for his inclination to eject players and managers quickly and dramatically. He was on the cover of the first issue of Sports Illustrated, with catcher Wes Westrum and batter Eddie Mathews, in August 1954.

Bob Buhl

Robert Ray Buhl (August 12, 1928 – February 16, 2001) was an American right-handed starting pitcher in Major League Baseball who played with the Milwaukee Braves, Chicago Cubs, and Philadelphia Phillies. His last name rhymes with "fuel".

A native of Saginaw, Michigan, in a 15-year career Buhl posted a 166–132 record with 1288 strikeouts and a 3.55 ERA in 2587 innings. He pitched 111 complete games and compiled 20 shutouts. He was first signed to a major league contract in 1953 by Milwaukee Braves scout Earle W. Halstead.

Buhl compiled an 8–1 record against the National League champion Brooklyn Dodgers in 1956, en route to an 18-win season. He repeated as an 18-game winner the following year, helping the Braves capture NL pennants in both 1957 and 1958 as the third starter behind Warren Spahn and Lew Burdette.

In 1957, Buhl led the National League in winning percentage (.720), with an 18–7 record.

In 1959, Buhl won 15 games and led the National League with four shutouts. His most productive season came in 1960, when he finished with a 16–9 record, a 3.09 ERA and an All-Star berth.

In 1962, Buhl was traded to the Cubs after appearing in just one game for the Braves. He had 12 wins against 13 losses, a considerably better percentage than the 9th-place Cubs (59–103 .364) achieved overall that year.

He was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in 1966 in a deal which brought future Hall-of-Famer Ferguson Jenkins to Chicago.

in 1962, Buhl failed to get a hit in 70 at-bats. the worst single-season batting performance in major league history. Baseball author Bill James named Buhl as the worst hitting pitcher of the 1950s. For his career, Buhl had a batting average of .089, with just two extra-base hits (both doubles) in 857 at-bats, for a slugging percentage of .091.

Buhl died in Titusville, Florida, just two days before his Braves roommate Eddie Mathews.

Pie Traynor

Harold Joseph "Pie" Traynor (November 11, 1898 – March 16, 1972) was an American professional baseball player, manager, scout and radio broadcaster. He played his entire Major League Baseball (MLB) career (1920–37) as a third baseman with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1948.Following the Second World War, Traynor was often cited as the greatest third baseman in MLB history. In recent years his reputation has diminished, with the modern-era careers of third basemen such as Eddie Mathews, Brooks Robinson, Mike Schmidt and George Brett moving to the forefront in the memories of baseball fans.

Third baseman

A third baseman, abbreviated 3B, is the player in baseball whose responsibility is to defend the area nearest to third base — the third of four bases a baserunner must touch in succession to score a run. In the scoring system used to record defensive plays, the third baseman is assigned the number '5'.

The third baseman requires good reflexes in reacting to batted balls, as he is often the closest infielder (roughly 90–120 feet) to the batter. The third base position requires a strong and accurate arm, as the third baseman often makes long throws to first base. The third baseman sometimes must throw quickly to second base in time to start a double play. The third baseman must also field fly balls in fair and foul territory.

Third base is known as the "hot corner", because the third baseman is relatively close to the batter and most right-handed hitters tend to hit the ball hard in this direction. A third baseman must possess good hand-eye coordination and quick reactions in order to catch hard line drives sometimes in excess of 125 miles per hour (201 km/h). Third basemen often must begin in a position even closer to the batter if a bunt is expected, creating a hazard if the ball is instead hit sharply. As with middle infielders, right-handed throwing players are standard at the position because they do not need to turn their body before throwing across the infield to first base. Mike Squires, who played fourteen games at third base in 1982 and 1983, is a very rare example of a third baseman who threw lefty. Some third basemen have been converted from middle infielders or outfielders because the position does not require them to run as fast.

Expectations of how well a third baseman should be able to hit have varied a great deal over time; in the early years of the sport, these expectations were similar to those for shortstops, the third baseman being merely the less skilled defensive player. Players who could hit with more ability often were not suited for third base, either because they were left-handed or because they were not mobile enough for the position. However, the beginning of the live-ball era in the 1920s created a greater demand for more offense, and third basemen have since been expected to hit either for a high average (.290 or better) or with moderate to substantial power. Since the 1950s the position has become more of a power position with sluggers such as Eddie Mathews, Mike Schmidt and Ron Santo becoming stars.

There are fewer third basemen in the Baseball Hall of Fame than there are Hall of Famers of any other position. Furthermore, with the notable exception of John McGraw and Bobby Cox, few third basemen have gone on to have successful managing careers, with Jimmy Dykes and Negro Leaguer Dave Malarcher being perhaps the next most prominent managers who began their careers at third base.

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