Johnny Mize

John Robert Mize (January 7, 1913 – June 2, 1993), nicknamed Big Jawn and The Big Cat, was an American professional baseball player, coach and scout. He played as a first baseman in Major League Baseball (MLB) for 15 seasons between 1936 and 1953, losing three seasons to military service during World War II. Mize was a ten-time All-Star who played for the St. Louis Cardinals, New York Giants, and the New York Yankees. During his tenure with the Yankees, the team won five consecutive World Series.

Mize retired in 1953 with 359 career home runs and a .312 batting average. He served as a radio commentator, scout and coach in the major leagues after he retired as a player. He was selected for induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1981. In 2014, he was inducted into the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame Museum.

Johnny Mize
Johnny Mize
First baseman
Born: January 7, 1913
Demorest, Georgia
Died: June 2, 1993 (aged 80)
Demorest, Georgia
Batted: Left Threw: Right
MLB debut
April 16, 1936, for the St. Louis Cardinals
Last MLB appearance
September 26, 1953, for the New York Yankees
MLB statistics
Batting average.312
Home runs359
Runs batted in1,337
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
Election MethodVeterans Committee

Early life and career

Mize was born in Demorest, Georgia to Edward and Emma Mize. After his parents separated, his mother went to Atlanta for work, but Mize remained in Demorest with his grandmother.[1] He excelled in tennis as a child and played on his high school baseball team.[2] He later played baseball for Piedmont College.[3][4] Mize was a distant cousin of Ty Cobb and his second cousin married Babe Ruth.[1]

Mize came up through the St. Louis Cardinals minor league system but was traded to the Cincinnati Reds in 1934.[5] However, he suffered a groin injury and the Reds nullified the trade. In 1935, while struggling with one bad leg, he injured the other leg. Mize retired from baseball and returned home until the Cardinals asked him to see a physician in St. Louis. He had surgery for bone spurs.[6]

He was kept with the Cardinals in St. Louis after surgery, as he would not have been able to play regularly that season in the minor leagues anyway. The organization thought that he might get some opportunities to pinch hit with the major league team. Mize made his major league debut for the Cardinals in 1936. In 126 games, Mize hit for a .329 batting average, 19 home runs and 93 runs batted in (RBI). He later said, "I'm the only guy who played in the major leagues because I couldn't play in the minors."[6]

Early MLB career

Johnny Mize Cardinals
Mize with the Cardinals

Mize was known as both "Big Jawn" and "The Big Cat" for his smooth fielding at first base. In 1937 he batted .364, but Cardinals teammate Joe Medwick took the title with a .374 average. In 1939, Mize finished second in the league's Most Valuable Player (MVP) voting after leading the league with a .349 average and 28 home runs.[7] Mize's 43 home runs in 1940 set a Cardinals team record that stood for nearly 60 years. At the end of the 1941 season, however, Cardinals general manager Branch Rickey, who famously believed in trading players before their skills began to decline, traded Mize to the New York Giants. In exchange for Mize, the Cardinals received Bill Lohrman, Johnny McCarthy, Ken O'Dea, and $50,000.[7]

Mize was involved in a 1941 lawsuit against Gum Products Inc. The company manufactured a set of baseball cards called Double Play. Mize sued because he argued that the company did not have his consent to use his image in the card set. Gum Products Inc. won the lawsuit, but the company stopped producing its Double Play series because of the expenses it incurred during the legal proceedings with Mize.[8]

The Giants pursued Mize after learning that their first baseman, Babe Young, was going to be forced into military service. In 1942, Mize hit for his lowest batting average to that point in his career (.305), but he hit 26 home runs and led the NL with 110 RBI.[9]

Military service and later career

Mize spent 1943 through 1945 in military service during World War II. During his service he played for the Great Lakes Naval Station baseball team for service members and new personnel in training. Mize hit 17 home runs in 51 games and batted over .475 while manning first base for the Bluejackets, other team members included: Phil Rizzuto who belonged to the Yankees; outfielders Sam Chapman, Dom DiMaggio and Barney McCosky; Frankie Pytlak; and Brooklyn shortstop Pee Wee Reese, and Johnny Lipon. The team was considered one of the best WWII era teams assembled. Returning to the Giants in 1946, a broken toe caused him to fall one short of the home run title, won by Ralph Kiner of the Pittsburgh Pirates. In 1947 he rebounded to hit 51 home runs and tie Kiner for the league lead. He also led in runs and RBI, and became the only player to strike out fewer than fifty times while hitting fifty home runs.[10] Mize's 1947 totals in runs, home runs and RBI were all career highs.[7] In 1948, Mize and Kiner again tied for the league home run championship with 40 each. Mize was traded to the New York Yankees late in the 1949 season after expressing discontent with his playing time.

Johnny Mize 1953.jpeg
Mize during his time with the Yankees.

Mize spent the last five years of his career with the Yankees, mostly as a part-time player, ending in 1953. He was, however, considered a valuable contributor to their winning five consecutive American League pennants and World Series titles. Despite spending part of the 1950 season on minor league rehab,[11] he hit 25 home runs to become the second player to have a 25-home run season in both leagues. In the 1952 World Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers, he hit three home runs, one as a pinch-hitter, and was robbed of a fourth by Dodger right fielder Carl Furillo, who made a leaping catch above the fence in the 11th inning to preserve a win for the Dodgers.

In October 1953, Mize announced his retirement. He said that he would rather retire while he was still popular with fans than to "hang around until they start to boo."[12] Mize holds the major league record for the most times hitting three homers in one game, a feat he performed six times. He also was one of a handful of players (including Babe Ruth) to do it in both leagues — five times in the National League and once in the American. He was the first player to hit three home runs in a game twice in one season in 1938 and did it twice again in 1940. He finished his career with 359 home runs.

Mize still holds Cardinals team records for most home runs in a season by a left-handed batter, most season RBI by a left hander, and most games with three or more home runs.[5] He and Carl Yastrzemski are the only players to have three seasons of hitting 40 or more home runs, without a season of hitting between 30 and 39 home runs.

Later life

After his 1953 retirement, Mize worked as a radio commentator, scout and a hitting coach for the Giants (1955–60).[13] He coached the Kansas City Athletics in 1961.

In the 1970s, Mize made his home in St. Augustine, Florida, working for a development by the Deltona Corporation called St. Augustine Shores. A picture of his house is included in David Nolan's book The Houses of St. Augustine. He was chosen by the Veterans Committee of the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1981. He had appeared on the regular Hall of Fame ballot in the 1960s and 1970s, where his highest vote percentage had been 43% in 1971.[7]

Mize spent the last few years of his life at his home in Demorest, Georgia. He underwent heart surgery in 1982 but returned to good health. He died in his sleep of cardiac arrest in 1993.[2]


Upon Mize's death, Ralph Kiner described him as "kind of an irascible guy" on the field, but "a very affable guy and a great storyteller" off the field.[14] Mize's batting statistics were overshadowed by those of bigger stars of his era such as Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, Stan Musial, and Jackie Robinson. Mize's lifetime on-base percentage of .397 has become more appreciated in the light of sabermetric analysis.

In January 2014, the Cardinals announced Mize among 22 former players and personnel to be inducted into the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame Museum for the inaugural class of 2014.[15] The Johnny Mize Baseball Museum is located at Piedmont College.[16] The college also honors the slugger with the Johnny Mize Athletic Center, a sports complex that houses the school's basketball arena.[17]

See also


  1. ^ a b Grillo, Jerry. "Johnny Mize". Society for American Baseball Research. Retrieved August 20, 2013.
  2. ^ a b Thomas, Robert (June 3, 1993). "Johnny Mize, home run slugger and Hall of Famer, is dead at 80". The New York Times. Retrieved January 31, 2014.
  3. ^ Phelps, Myron (February 11, 2008). "Johnny Mize Collection". The Navigator. Archived from the original on February 16, 2012. Retrieved June 10, 2008.
  4. ^ Suda, Tim (January 28, 2008). "History of Sports". The Navigator. Archived from the original on February 16, 2012. Retrieved June 10, 2008.
  5. ^ a b "Cardinals Interesting Fact". St. Louis Cardinals team website. December 1, 2012. Retrieved December 12, 2012.
  6. ^ a b Eisenbath, Mike (1999). The Cardinals Encyclopedia. Temple University Press. p. 245. ISBN 1566397030.
  7. ^ a b c d "Johnny Mize". Retrieved January 31, 2014.
  8. ^ Jamieson, Dave (2010). Mint Condition: How Baseball Cards Became an American Obsession. New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, imprint of Grove/Atlantic Inc. p. 92. ISBN 978-0-8021-1939-1.
  9. ^ "Cards trade Johnny Mize to Giants". St. Petersburg Times. December 12, 1941. Retrieved January 31, 2014.
  10. ^ "Mize, Johnny". Baseball Hall of Fame. Retrieved August 20, 2013.
  11. ^ "Yankees release Big Johnny Mize to Kansas City". Evening Independent. May 15, 1950. Retrieved January 31, 2014.
  12. ^ "Mize retires from baseball". Eugene Register-Guard. October 7, 1953. Retrieved January 31, 2014.
  13. ^ "Johnny Mize joins list of famed bat coaches". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. June 7, 1955. Retrieved January 31, 2014.
  14. ^ "Mize, 80, dies at home in Georgia". Los Angeles Times. June 3, 1993. Retrieved January 31, 2014.
  15. ^ Cardinals Press Release (January 18, 2014). "Cardinals establish Hall of Fame & detail induction process". Retrieved January 29, 2014.
  16. ^ Jensen, Chris (2012). Baseball State By State. McFarland. p. 67. ISBN 0786468955.
  17. ^ "Johnny Mize Athletic Center". Piedmont College. Retrieved January 31, 2014.

Further reading

External links

Preceded by
Harry Danning
Hitting for the cycle
July 13, 1940
Succeeded by
Buddy Rosar
1936 St. Louis Cardinals season

The 1936 St. Louis Cardinals season was the team's 55th season in St. Louis, Missouri and its 45th season in the National League. The Cardinals went 87–67 during the season and finished 2nd in the National League.

1937 Major League Baseball All-Star Game

The 1937 Major League Baseball All-Star Game was the fifth 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 7, 1937, at Griffith Stadium in Washington, D.C., the home of the Washington Senators of the American League. The game resulted in the American League defeating the National League 8–3.

The game, watched by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, is remembered because of a play in which Earl Averill of the Indians hit a ball that struck pitcher Dizzy Dean on the toe, breaking it. Complications of this injury shortened the career of the future Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher.

1938 St. Louis Cardinals season

The 1938 St. Louis Cardinals season was the team's 57th season in St. Louis, Missouri, United States, and the 47th season in the National League. The Cardinals went 71–80 during the season and finished 6th in the National League.

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 Major League Baseball season

The 1940 Major League Baseball season was a very good season for baseball where many stars had great years, the Cincinnati Reds won the world series against the Detroit Tigers and the following players won MVP in their respective divisions, Hank Greenberg of the Detroit Tigers and Frank McCormick of the Cincinnati Reds. The 1940 Major League Baseball season started on April 16th and was carried out until October 8th, 1940.

1940 St. Louis Cardinals season

The 1940 St. Louis Cardinals season was the team's 59th season in St. Louis, Missouri and 49th season in the National League. The Cardinals went 84–69 during the season and finished 3rd in the National League.

1941 Major League Baseball All-Star Game

The 1941 Major League Baseball All-Star Game was the ninth 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 8, 1941, at Briggs Stadium in Detroit, Michigan, the home of the Detroit Tigers of the American League.

1947 Major League Baseball All-Star Game

The 1947 Major League Baseball All-Star Game was the 14th playing of the "Midsummer Classic" between Major League Baseball's (MLB) American League (AL) and National League (NL) All-Star teams. The All-Star Game was held on July 8, 1947, at Wrigley Field in Chicago, the home of the NL's Chicago Cubs.

The game resulted in the American League defeating the National League by a score of 2–1 in 2 hours and 19 minutes.

1947 New York Giants (MLB) season

The 1947 New York Giants season was the franchise's 65th season. The team finished in fourth place in the National League with an 81-73 record, 13 games behind the Brooklyn Dodgers. It was the first season to be broadcast on television, with WNBT acting as the official team television broadcast partner.

1949 World Series

The 1949 World Series featured the New York Yankees and the Brooklyn Dodgers, with the Yankees winning in five games for their second defeat of the Dodgers in three years, and the twelfth championship in team history. This victory would start a record run of five consecutive World Series championships by the Yankees, and was also the first of 14 AL pennants in 16 years (1949–1964 except for 1954 and 1959) for the Yankees.

Both teams finished the regular season with exactly the same records and winning their respective leagues by exactly one game.

1952 New York Yankees season

The 1952 New York Yankees season was the 50th season for the Yankees in New York and their 52nd overall, going back to their origins in Baltimore. The team finished with a record of 95–59, winning their 19th pennant, finishing 2 games ahead of the Cleveland Indians. New York was managed by Casey Stengel. The Yankees played their home games at Yankee Stadium. In the World Series, they defeated the Brooklyn Dodgers in 7 games. This was their fourth consecutive World Series win, tying the record they had set during 1936–1939. It was also the first season that the Yankees aired their games exclusively on WPIX-TV which would last until the end of the 1998 season, the channel was also the home of the baseball Giants broadcasts from 1949, thus it was the first time ever that the channel had broadcast both the AL and NL baseball teams from the city, in 2016, when WPIX resumed FTA broadcasts of Yankees games in association with the current cable broadcaster YES Network, the channel returned to being the sole FTA broadcaster for the city's MLB franchises, as it is also currently the FTA broadcaster for the New York Mets.

1952 World Series

The 1952 World Series featured the 3-time defending champions New York Yankees beating the Brooklyn Dodgers in seven games. The Yankees won their 4th consecutive title, tying the mark they set in 1936–1939 under manager Joe McCarthy, and Casey Stengel became the second manager in Major League history with 4 consecutive World Series championships. This was the Yankees' 15th World Series championship win, and the 3rd time they defeated the Dodgers in 6 years.

In Game 7, the Yankees' second baseman Billy Martin made a great catch, preserving the Yankees' two-run lead. Also, the home run hit by Mickey Mantle during the 8th inning of Game 6 was significant because it was the first of his record 18 career World Series home runs.

The NBC telecasts of Games 6 and 7 are believed to be the oldest surviving television broadcasts of the World Series, as they were preserved via kinescope by sponsor Gillette.

1981 Baseball Hall of Fame balloting

Elections to the Baseball Hall of Fame for 1981 followed the system in place since 1978.

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

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 Rube Foster and Johnny Mize. Foster would be one of two people from the Negro Leagues elected in seventeen years before introduction of a separate ballot in 1995.

Bill Lohrman

William Leroy "Bill" Lohrman (May 22, 1913 – September 13, 1999) was a pitcher in Major League Baseball. He pitched in 198 games from 1934 to 1944. Bill played for the Giants, Dodgers, Cardinals, Phillies, and Reds. Bill was born and raised Brooklyn and went to live in New Paltz, New York following his baseball career.

Demorest, Georgia

Demorest is a city in Habersham County, Georgia, United States. The population was 1,823 at the 2010 census, up from 1,465 at the 2000 census. It is the home of Piedmont College.

Don Bollweg

Donald Raymond Bollweg (February 12, 1921 – May 26, 1996) was an American first baseman in Major League Baseball who played for three teams from 1950 to 1955.

He was born in Wheaton, Illinois, and after signing with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1942, served in the United States Army during World War II. He finally appeared in 10 games for the Cardinals in the 1950 and 1951 seasons, but was traded in May 1951 to the New York Yankees, and was named MVP of the American Association in 1952 with the Kansas City Blues. He played 70 games for the 1953 Yankees team which captured their fifth consecutive World Series title. In the 1953 Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers, he was used as a pinch hitter in Games 3 and 4, striking out both times, and as a defensive replacement for Johnny Mize in the ninth inning of Game 6 as the Yankees took the title. In December 1953 he was traded to the Philadelphia Athletics in an 11-player deal, and he shared playing time at first base in 1954 with Lou Limmer. After the Athletics relocated to Kansas City, Missouri in 1955, he appeared in only 12 games, ending his major league career with a batting average of .243, 11 home runs and 53 runs batted in in 195 games.

He continued playing in the minor leagues in 1955 and 1956. Bollweg died in Wheaton at age 75.

List of National League annual slugging percentage leaders

List of National League Slugging Percentage Leaders

The National League slugging percentage Leader is the Major League Baseball player in the National League who has the highest slugging percentage in a particular season.

In baseball statistics, slugging percentage' (abbreviated SLG) is a measure of the power of a hitter. It is calculated as total bases divided by at bats:

where AB is the number of at-bats for a given player, and 1B, 2B, 3B, and HR are the number of singles, doubles, triples, and home runs, respectively. Walks are specifically excluded from this calculation.

Currently, a player needs to accrue an average of at least 3.1 plate appearances for each game his team plays in order to qualify for the title. An exception to this qualification rule is that if a player falls short of 3.1 plate appearances per game, but would still have the highest batting average if enough hitless at-bats were added to reach the 3.1 average mark, the player still wins the slugging percentage championship.

The latest example of this exception being employed was in 2007, when Ryan Braun had a .634 slugging percentage, but only 492 plate appearances – 10 short of the 502 necessary. The addition of 10 hitless at-bats would have lowered his slugging percentage to a value that was still better than anyone else in the league, so Braun was the National League slugging percentage champion. A similar situation occurred when Tony Gwynn won the NL batting title in 1996.

Year-by-Year National League Slugging Percentage Leaders

+ Hall of Famer

A ** by the stat's value indicates the player had fewer than the required number of plate appearances for the SLG title that year. In order to rank the player, the necessary number of hitless at bats were added to the player's season total. The value here is their actual value, and not the value used to rank them.

The Big Cat

The Big Cat is a popular nickname in professional sports. It may refer to:

Johnny Lee Bench(born 1941),Oklahoma , baseball player

Andrés Galarraga (born 1961), Venezuelan baseball player

Ernie Ladd (1938–2007), American wrestler and football player

Leon Lett (born 1968), American football player

Earl Lloyd (born 1928), American basketball player

Jamaal Magloire (born 1978), Canadian basketball player

Miloslav Mečíř (born 1964), Slovak tennis player

Johnny Mize (1913–1993), American baseball player

James Williams (offensive lineman) (born 1968), American football player

Rayfield Wright (born 1945), American football player

USA South Athletic Conference

The USA South Athletic Conference (formerly the Dixie Intercollegiate Athletic Conference or the Dixie Conference) is an athletic conference which competes in the NCAA's Division III. Member schools are located in North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, and Kentucky.

Veterans Committee
J. G. Taylor Spink Award
Ford C. Frick Award
First basemen
Second basemen
Third basemen
Designated hitters
Executives /
Inducted as a Cardinal
Inductees who played
for the Cardinals
Cardinals managers
Cardinals executives
Frick Award
Spink Award
Inductees in Yankees cap
Inductees who played
for the Yankees
Yankees' managers
Yankees' executives
Frick Award

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