James Luther Sewell (January 5, 1901 – May 14, 1987) was an American professional baseball player, coach and manager. He played in Major League Baseball as a catcher for the Cleveland Indians (1921–1932, 1939), Washington Senators (1933–1934), Chicago White Sox (1935–1938) and the St. Louis Browns (1942). Sewell batted and threw right-handed. He was regarded as one of the best defensive catchers of his era.
|Catcher / Manager|
|Born: January 5, 1901|
|Died: May 14, 1987 (aged 86)|
|June 30, 1921, for the Cleveland Indians|
|Last MLB appearance|
|August 1, 1942, for the St. Louis Browns|
|Runs batted in||698|
|Career highlights and awards|
Born in the rural town of Titus, Alabama, Sewell grew up wanting to play baseball, and graduated from the University of Alabama where, he played for the Alabama Crimson Tide baseball team as an infielder. He was linked to the Cleveland Indians because his brother Joe Sewell became their starting shortstop in 1920. When Indians scout Patsy Flaherty signed Sewell, he insisted that he play as a catcher. He began the 1921 season with the Columbus Senators in the American Association but, after only 17 minor league games, Sewell made his major league debut with the Cleveland Indians on June 30, 1921.
Sewell served as a reserve catcher, working behind Steve O'Neill until the 1923 season when O'Neill was injured in an auto accident. Sewell then played in a platoon role alongside Glenn Myatt, in which the left-hand hitting Myatt played the team's home games at League Park due to its 290-foot distance to the right field fence, while Sewell played the team's road games. Sewell eventually took over as the Indians number one catcher in the 1926 season, due to his superior defensive skills. He finished the year with only a .238 batting average but, led the American League catchers with 91 assists.
In 1927, Sewell had a breakout year, hitting for a career-high .294 batting average with 27 doubles, 53 runs batted in, and scored 52 runs. Sewell questioned Babe Ruth's integrity in a game on June 11, 1927. He demanded that umpires check Ruth's bat after he clouted two straight home runs off Garland Buckeye. Although he led the league's catchers with 20 errors, he also led the league with 119 assists and 71 baserunners caught stealing. Despite the fact that the Indians finished the season in sixth place, Sewell ranked ninth in voting for the 1927 American League Most Valuable Player Award. In 1928, he once again led the league's catchers with 117 assists and 60 baserunners caught stealing and ranked twelfth in voting for the 1928 American League Most Valuable Player Award.
In 1933, Sewell was traded to the Washington Senators for catcher Roy Spencer. He posted career-highs with 125 hits including 30 doubles along with 61 runs batted in as, the Senators under first-year player-manager Joe Cronin, won 99 games to clinch the American League pennant by nine games over the New York Yankees. During a September game against the Yankees, Sewell made an odd double play. Lou Gehrig and Dixie Walker were on base when, Tony Lazzeri hit a ball to deep right field. Gehrig hesitated as he waited to see if the ball might be caught, before heading towards home plate with Walker right behind him. Sewell received the throw from the outfield and tagged both runners out with one sweeping motion. Cronin credited Sewell as a major factor in helping the Senators' pitching staff. The Senators eventually lost to the New York Giants in the 1933 World Series. In what would be his only postseason appearance, Sewell posted a .176 batting average (3 for 17), with one stolen base, one run scored, and one run batted in during the five-game series.
Sewell began the 1934 season with a hand injury and didn't play his first game until June 13. Two weeks later, he was struck in the head and knocked unconscious by a pitch thrown by St. Louis Browns pitcher, Bump Hadley. Sewell ended the season with a .237 batting average.
In January 1935, Sewell was traded to the St. Louis Browns, ironically for Bump Hadley. The Browns promptly traded him to the Chicago White Sox on the very same day. His offensive statistics improved with the White Sox, posting a .285 batting average with 67 runs batted in and, finished second among the league's catchers in assists and third in fielding percentage. In 1936, Sewell produced career-highs with 5 home runs and 73 runs batted in and, led American League catchers in assists and in baserunners caught stealing. By the first week of June 1937, Sewell had a .316 batting average to earn a spot as a reserve for the American League team in the 1937 All-Star Game. That year, he put up even better numbers than the consistently good ones he had been posting for a decade. On the season, he had a .269 batting average, with a .343 on-base percentage and six triples. Sewell finished the season ranked fifth in voting for the 1937 American League Most Valuable Player Award.
Sewell's batting average dropped to .213 in 1938 and, in December of that year, he was purchased by the Brooklyn Dodgers for $7500. In April 1939, the 39-year-old Sewell was released by the Dodgers but, promptly signed a contract as a third-string catcher and pitching coach for the Cleveland Indians. The Indians hoped to groom him as an eventual replacement for manager Oscar Vitt who had fallen from the graces of General Manager Cy Slapnicka. He spent the 1940 season as a pitching coach but, when the Indians decided to hire Roger Peckinpaugh as their manager for the 1941 season, Sewell accepted the manager's position with the St. Louis Browns, replacing Fred Haney. Because of the shortage of major league players during the Second World War, Sewell served as a player-manager during the 1942 season, appearing in six games. He played his final game as a player on August 1, 1942 at the age of 41.
In a 20-year major league career, Sewell played in 1,630 games, accumulating 1,393 hits in 5,383 at bats for a .259 career batting average along with 20 home runs, 696 runs batted in and an on-base percentage of .323. He retired with a .978 fielding percentage. As a catcher, Sewell had a strong throwing arm, leading the American League four times in baserunners caught stealing and four times in assists.
Even for the era, Sewell's low strikeout numbers were remarkable. He never struck out more than 27 times in a season, and his career best was just 16 strikeouts in 451 at-bats in 1936. Sewell held the American League record of 20 seasons as an active catcher until Carlton Fisk surpassed the record with 24 seasons as an active catcher with the Boston Red Sox (1969, 1971–80) and the Chicago White Sox (1981–93). He caught three no-hitters in his career; Wes Ferrell in 1931, Vern Kennedy in 1935, and Bill Dietrich in 1938. In his book, The Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract, baseball historian Bill James ranked Sewell as the fourth best catcher in the American League during his career. James ranked Mickey Cochrane, Bill Dickey and Rick Ferrell as the top three, all of whom were inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Sewell and his brother Joe, rank eighth on the all-time list of combined hits by brothers, with 3,619. Besides his brother, Joe Sewell, a Hall of Fame shortstop, he had another brother named Tommy Sewell, who had one at-bat with the Chicago Cubs.
After retiring as an active player, Sewell continued to manage the St. Louis Browns. He led them to the 1944 American League pennant – the team's only championship in its 52 years in St. Louis, although they lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1944 World Series. That year, he managed such players as Red Hayworth, Vern Stephens, and Jack Kramer, led them to an 89-65 record, and was awarded The Sporting News' Manager of the Year Award. After a seventh-place finish in 1946, Sewell stepped down as the Browns' manager.
In January 1949 Sewell was hired as a pitching coach by the Cincinnati Reds and, in October of that year, he took over as the Reds' manager from Bucky Walters. After two unsuccessful seasons with the Reds, he resigned in July 1952 and was replaced by Rogers Hornsby. Sewell's major league managerial record was 606-644, a .485 winning percentage.
In December 1953, Sewell was hired as manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs of the International League. He led the team to the league championship in his first season and won the International League Manager of the Year Award. Sewell led the Maple Leafs to a second-place finish in 1955. The team had a .622 winning percentage over his two years as manager. In November 1955, he was named as the manager for the Seattle Rainiers of the Pacific Coast League. In August 1956, Sewell was fired after one season in part due to player discontent over his managerial style.
The 1927 Cleveland Indians season was a season in American baseball. The team finished sixth in the American League with a record of 66–87, 43½ games behind the New York Yankees.1929 Cleveland Indians season
The 1929 Cleveland Indians season was a season in American baseball. The team finished third in the American League with a record of 81–71, 24 games behind the Philadelphia Athletics.1930 Cleveland Indians season
The 1930 Cleveland Indians season was a season in American baseball. The team finished fourth in the American League with a record of 81–73, 21 games behind the Philadelphia Athletics.1931 Cleveland Indians season
The 1931 Cleveland Indians season was a season in American baseball. The team finished fourth in the American League with a record 78–76, 30 games behind the Philadelphia Athletics.1932 Cleveland Indians season
The 1932 Cleveland Indians season was a season in American baseball. The team finished fourth in the American League with a record of 87–65, 19 games behind the New York Yankees.1935 Chicago White Sox season
The 1935 Chicago White Sox season was the team's 35th season in the major leagues, and its 36th season overall. They finished with a record 74–78, good enough for 5th place in the American League, 19.5 games behind the first place Detroit Tigers.1937 Chicago White Sox season
The 1937 Chicago White Sox season was the White Sox's 37th season in the major leagues, and their 38th season overall . They finished with a record 86–68, good enough for 3rd place in the American League, 16 games behind the first place New York Yankees.1938 Chicago White Sox season
The 1938 Chicago White Sox season was the White Sox's 38th season in the major leagues and their 39th season overall. They finished with a record 65–83, good enough for 5th place in the American League, 32 games behind the first place New York Yankees.1939 Cleveland Indians season
The 1939 Cleveland Indians season was a season in American baseball. The team finished third in the American League with a record of 86–66, 13 games behind the New York Yankees.1942 St. Louis Browns season
The 1942 St. Louis Browns season involved the Browns finishing 3rd in the American League with a record of 82 wins and 69 losses.1944 Major League Baseball season
The 1944 Major League Baseball season saw the Cardinals win the World Series four games to two over the Browns in an all-St. Louis Fall Classic.1944 St. Louis Browns season
The 1944 St. Louis Browns season was a season in American baseball. It involved the Browns finishing first in the American League with a record of 89 wins and 65 losses. In the World Series, they lost to the team they shared a stadium with, the Cardinals, four games to two.1946 St. Louis Browns season
The 1946 St. Louis Browns season involved the Browns finishing 7th in the American League with a record of 66 wins and 88 losses.1949 Cincinnati Reds season
The 1949 Cincinnati Reds season was a season in American baseball. The team finished seventh in the National League with a record of 62–92, 35 games behind the Brooklyn Dodgers.1952 Cincinnati Reds season
The 1952 Cincinnati Reds season was the franchise's 63rd year as a member of the National League and its 71st consecutive year of operation in Major League Baseball. The Reds won 69 games, lost 85, and finished sixth, drawing 604,197 spectators to Crosley Field, next-to-last in the eight-team league.Earle Brucker Sr.
Earle Francis Brucker Sr. (May 6, 1901 – May 8, 1981) was an American catcher, coach and interim manager in Major League Baseball. After a long minor league career in the Pacific Coast and Western leagues – and after missing three full seasons (1927–29) in his prime due to arm trouble – Brucker was an unusually old rookie player in the Major Leagues. He made his debut on April 19, 1937, not quite three weeks shy of his 36th birthday.
A longtime San Diego resident who was born in Albany, New York, Brucker threw and batted right-handed, stood 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m) (180 cm) tall and weighed 175 pounds (79 kg). He made his first appearance in professional baseball in 1924 for the Seattle Indians of the Pacific Coast League, but it would be 13 years before he would reach the majors. He was even a playing manager in the Western League during this apprenticeship.
He played his entire MLB career (1937–40; 1943) for the Philadelphia Athletics and served as a coach under legendary A's manager Connie Mack for nine full seasons, 1941–49. In 241 total games, he batted .290 in 707 at bats, with 12 home runs and 105 runs batted in. In 1938, his best campaign, Brucker batted .374 with 64 hits in 171 at bats, three homers and 35 RBI. During his long tenure with Philadelphia, he also witnessed the brief major-league career of his son Earle Brucker Jr., also a catcher, who appeared in two games for the Athletics at the end of the 1948 season.
After leaving the A's, Brucker Sr. coached for the St. Louis Browns (1950) and the Cincinnati Reds (1952). During the latter season, from July 30 to August 3, he served as interim manager of the Reds for five games during the transition between Luke Sewell and Rogers Hornsby as Cincinnati's permanent manager. His sixth-place Reds won three of five during his brief tenure. Following that season, Brucker managed in the Reds' farm system for two additional campaigns before leaving the game.
In 1960, Brucker was also inducted by the San Diego Hall of Champions into the Breitbard Hall of Fame honoring San Diego's finest athletes both on and off the playing surface. Brucker died in San Diego, at age 80.Rocky and the Natives
Rocky and the Natives are an English country rock band, formed in 2011 in Kent. The band is composed of song writer/musicians Chris Godden (guitar/lap steel guitar) and Malcolm Barnard (vocals) and featuring Jim Leverton (bass), Andy Newmark (drums) and Geoffrey Richardson (violin and mandolin).Rocky and the Natives' debut single Oyster Girl was released in July 2011 to coincide with the Whitstable Oyster Festival and with all profits going to Operation Blessing International to support Oystermen in the Urato Islands, Japan. It was reviewed in Maverick Magazine in July 2011. The supporting video was shot on Whitstable beach by Luke Sewell, director of Channel 4’s The Undateables series. Researching the Byrds cover of "Lazy Waters" on Farther Along led to a collaboration with American songwriter Bob Rafkin who joined the band on tour in Kent in 2012. In November 2012 the band released their version of Bob's song "Lazy Waters".
In 2012 the band was invited to contribute to the John Lennon tribute album Lennon Bermuda and recorded a version of "Tight A$", a Lennon track from the 1973 album Mind Games."Oyster Girl" and "Tight A$" both feature on the band’s first album Let’s Hear it for the Old Guys (Yard Dog Records, released September 2013) and reviewed in Maverick Magazine for January/February 2014. The album is dedicated to Bob Rafkin who died in May 2013.Sig Jakucki
Sigmund "Jack" Jakucki (August 20, 1909 – May 28, 1979) was a pitcher in Major League Baseball. He played for the St. Louis Browns.
In 1935, Jakucki went 15–14 for Galveston of the Texas League. The Browns purchased him the following year, but he pitched poorly for them, going 0–3 with an 8.71 earned run average in 20.2 innings.
Jakucki quit the minor leagues in 1938. He moved on to various semi-pro teams in Texas while also working as a paperhanger. During World War II, however, the Browns ran short of players and re-signed him. In 1944, he returned to the majors and went 13–9 with a 3.55 ERA. He defeated the New York Yankees, 5 to 2, in the final game of the 1944 season to clinch the pennant for St. Louis. He lost his only start in the 1944 World Series.
In 1945, Jakucki went 12–10. However, he was also very temperamental and an alcoholic. He apparently derived pleasure in tormenting teammate Pete Gray, who had only one arm. One day, the two got into an argument and settled it with a fight, with Sig holding one arm behind his back. Jakucki was kicked off the team by manager Luke Sewell late in the season and never returned to the majors.He died in Galveston, Texas, at the age of 69, reportedly destitute.
Jakucki's name, misspelled "Jackucki", appears in the sheet music for Dave Frishberg's song "Van Lingle Mungo".Tommy Sewell
Thomas Wesley Sewell (April 16, 1906 – July 30, 1956), was an American professional baseball player who played in 1927 with the Chicago Cubs of Major League Baseball. He appeared in one game as a pinch hitter, going hitless in his only at-bat.
Sewell was born in Titus, Alabama, and died in Montgomery, Alabama. He attended the University of Alabama. He was the brother of Baseball Hall of Famer Joe Sewell and of Luke Sewell, and the cousin of Rip Sewell.