Pinky Higgins

Michael Franklin "Pinky" Higgins (May 27, 1909 – March 21, 1969) was an American third baseman, manager, front office executive and scout in Major League Baseball who played for three teams and served as manager or general manager of the Boston Red Sox during the period of 1955 through 1965. During his playing days, he batted and threw right-handed, and was listed as 6 feet 1 inch (1.85 m) tall and 185 pounds (84 kg).

Pinky Higgins
PinkyHigginsGoudeycard
Third baseman / Manager
Born: May 27, 1909
Red Oak, Texas
Died: March 21, 1969 (aged 59)
Dallas, Texas
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
June 25, 1930, for the Philadelphia Athletics
Last MLB appearance
September 29, 1946, for the Boston Red Sox
MLB statistics
Batting average.292
Home runs140
Runs batted in1,075
Managerial record560–556
Winning %.502
Teams
As player
As manager
Career highlights and awards

Playing career

Higgins was born in Red Oak, Texas. He was nicknamed "Pinky" as a baby, and according to some reports detested it. Alternatively, he was called by either of his given names. He signed some autographs as Frank Higgins, but was predominantly known as Mike, especially later in his career. Higgins graduated from W. H. Adamson High School in Dallas, where he played on the 1926 state championship runner-up team. He attended the University of Texas at Austin before beginning his career with the Philadelphia Athletics on June 25, 1930. After only 24 at bats that year, he did not play in the majors again until 1933, when he began to play full-time for the A's. In his rookie season of 1933, he batted .314 with 13 home runs and 99 RBIs. He hit for the cycle on August 3 in a 12–8 win over the Washington Senators. The A's of that year finished third in the American League.

By 1938, when he was traded to the Boston Red Sox for fellow third baseman Billy Werber, he was not only considered one of the better-hitting third basemen in the league but led them in batting average in 1933 and 1934. In his first two years with the Bosox (1937 and 1938), he hit over .300 with a career-high 106 RBIs in both years. In June 1938, he set (and still holds) a major league record with base hits in 12 consecutive at bats, accomplishing the feat over 14 plate appearances because he also received two bases on balls during that streak. His mark was tied by Walt Dropo in 1952, who made his 12 straight knocks in 12 appearances, with no bases on balls in between.

He would next head to the Detroit Tigers in a trade for submarine pitcher Elden Auker, where he would spend the majority of his playing career. It was also where his hitting numbers dropped while his power numbers still stayed fairly strong, but not in the same realm as his career-high of 23 homers with Philadelphia in 1935.

Boston got Higgins back in mid-1946 as the team's regular third baseman, winning the AL pennant by 12 games (but losing the 1946 World Series to the Cardinals in seven). The Red Sox then released him, and he retired to become a manager in the Red Sox farm system. His final numbers included a .292 batting average with 140 home runs and 1,075 RBIs. He accumulated 1,941 career hits in 6,636 at bats, and made the All-Star team three times (1934, '36, '44).

Postseason

Higgins played in two World Series: one with Detroit in 1940 and one with Boston in 1946, losing both in seven but amassing a .271 Series batting average with 1 home run (for Detroit), 8 RBIs (6 for Detroit and 2 for Boston) and 13 hits in 48 at bats.

Managing and front office career

Manager

Higgins started his managing career with the Class B Roanoke Red Sox of the Piedmont League in the Red Sox farm system in 1947. After eight seasons of managing in the minors — including four (1951–54) at the helm of the Red Sox' Triple-A affiliate, the Louisville Colonels of the American Association — he became Boston's skipper in 1955. Before taking the Red Sox promotion, he was under consideration as manager-in-waiting for the Baltimore Orioles, where fellow Texan and former Tiger teammate Paul Richards had just been installed as the O's general manager and field manager in September 1954.[1]

Higgins' first team saw a hot July and August but a September debacle and a fourth-place finish. Although he had winning first- division teams through 1958 and Ted Williams won two more batting titles (1957–58), the Red Sox never seriously contended — never finishing less than 12 games in arrears of the first-place New York Yankees. In 1959, with the 40-year-old Williams injured (and turning in the only sub-.300 season of his career), the Red Sox lost 42 of their first 73 games,[2] and on July 3, Higgins was replaced as manager by Billy Jurges, a coach with the Washington Senators (and former star shortstop of the Cubs in the 1930s). However, Higgins stayed in the organization as special assistant to Bosox owner Tom Yawkey, a personal friend.

After a promising end to the 1959 season, Jurges' Red Sox plummeted into last place in the opening weeks of the 1960 campaign. Jurges was fired on June 10, 1960. Then, after coach Del Baker handled the Red Sox for seven games, Higgins was re-installed as manager, but the pitching-poor Red Sox continued to lose. Nonetheless, on September 30, 1960 he was signed to a three-year contract extension as field manager and given control of all player personnel in the Boston organization — effectively adding the responsibilities of general manager (without the formal title) to his managerial role.[3]

He hung up his uniform and joined Boston's front office full-time as executive vice president and general manager after the 1962 campaign, finishing his managerial career with a record of 560–556 (.502) in 1,119 games. He was the second-winningest manager in Red Sox history until Terry Francona passed him in 2009. His best finish was third place, in 1957 and 1958, although his best winning percentage was achieved in both 1955 and 1956 with 84–70 (.545) fourth-place finishes.

He was 53 when he retired from managing. As a skipper, Higgins was known for being well liked by players and very easygoing. He would not go out to the mound to talk to his pitcher very often and in fact once said, "I don't believe in that business of walking out to the mound every time a pitcher's in trouble. You can't tell him anything new."

General manager

Higgins' record as a general manager, like his managing record, was mediocre. During the 1960 offseason, he traded 6 ft 6½ -in (1.99 m) starting pitcher Frank Sullivan to the Philadelphia Phillies for another tall right-hander, 6 ft 8 in (2.03 m) Gene Conley, who was also Bill Russell's backup center for the Boston Celtics; Conley would give Higgins two healthy seasons and win 15 games in 1962. But apart from swapping shortstops with Paul Richards' Houston Colt .45s, acquiring Eddie Bressoud for Don Buddin, Higgins made no other significant trades during the remainder of his two-year (1961–62) tenure as both manager and supervisor of playing personnel.

Once he was named full-time general manager, in the autumn of 1962, he did make a few major trades, one of them netting slugger Dick Stuart from the Pittsburgh Pirates, but they did not materially improve the club on the field. He made no further major deals until after the 1964 campaign, when he sent Stuart to the Phillies for left-handed starting pitcher Dennis Bennett, who suffered from a sore arm and would win only 12 games (losing 13) in 286⅓ innings over 2½ seasons in a Boston uniform. Higgins also clashed with his managerial successor, Johnny Pesky, who had been personally chosen by Yawkey. By the end of the 1964 season, Higgins had pushed Pesky aside, replacing him with his own man, Billy Herman.

The Red Sox continued to struggle at the major-league level, and in 1965 they lost 100 games for the only time during the Yawkey era for lack of pitching. But meanwhile, in their farm system directed by Neil Mahoney, they were amassing talented young players (including African-American players such as outfielder Reggie Smith, first baseman George Scott and third baseman Joe Foy) who would lead them to an improbable AL pennant in 1967, aided and abetted by 22-game winner Jim Lonborg and Triple Crown winner Carl Yastrzemski.

Higgins, however, was finally ousted by Yawkey on September 16, 1965, ironically the same day 21-year-old Boston righthander Dave Morehead threw a no-hitter. He then joined Houston as a scout, hired by old friend and teammate Richards. It would be his last job in baseball.

Racism

Red Sox historians often single out Higgins, along with Yawkey, when they discuss the root of the club's reputation for resisting racial integration. The Red Sox were the last (in 1959) of the then 16 major league teams to play a black player and fielded an all-white team from Jackie Robinson's Brooklyn Dodger debut in 1947 through Higgins' first managerial term. He was quoted by one Boston baseball writer, Al Hirshberg, as saying, "There'll be no niggers on this ball club as long as I have anything to say about it."[4] He also reportedly called sportswriter Cliff Keane "a fucking nigger-lover"[5] after hearing Keane praise the talents of White Sox outfielder Minnie Miñoso, a Cuban of African descent. The Red Sox' first African American player, utility infielder Pumpsie Green, was recalled from the minor leagues in July 1959, during Jurges' brief tenure as pilot. But Higgins had no control over the big league roster until he became Red Sox manager in 1955, and the club's policy of refusing to break the color line appeared to be in place well before then under Yawkey and his front office bosses, Eddie Collins and Joe Cronin.[6]

When Higgins returned to his managerial post and then assumed player personnel responsibilities, from mid-1960 through late in 1965, he oversaw an integrated roster and acquired a few nonwhite players (outfielders Román Mejías, Lenny Green, Al Smith and Willie Tasby and infielders Billy Harrell and Félix Mantilla). Tasby was enthusiastic about playing for Higgins when he was quoted in a Boston newspaper in late 1960. (He spent only a half-year with the Red Sox before his selection in the 1960 Major League Baseball expansion draft.)

Death

George W. Killen of Louisiana
George W. Killen of Simsboro, Louisiana, the victim of Pinky Higgins's driving while intoxicated negligent homicide crime in 1968

On February 27, 1968, Higgins was arrested in Simsboro in Lincoln Parish in north Louisiana, for the death with his car of George W. Killen (1903–1968),[7] a World War II veteran and a member of a road crew of the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, and the injury of three others. Higgins sustained two heart attacks between conviction and sentencing. He pleaded guilty to driving while intoxicated and was sentenced to four of five possible years for the offense.[8] Higgins was sent to the Louisiana State Penitentiary in West Feliciana Parish in early January 1969 to begin his sentence. "I know that he has a very enviable record. It's just one of those tragic cases", said District Attorney Ragan Madden.[9]

Higgins was paroled after serving only two months. The day after he was paroled, he died of a heart attack in Dallas, Texas, at the age of 59.[10]

See also

References

  1. ^ Carmichael, John P., "A Few Pilots Make Deals; Others Just Get Told." Baseball Digest, April 1955, page 67
  2. ^ retrosheet.org
  3. ^ The New York Times, October 1, 1960
  4. ^ Hirshberg, Al. What's the Matter with the Red Sox?, New York: Dodd, Mead, 1973
  5. ^ Halberstam, David. Summer of '49, New York: William Morrow and Company, 1989
  6. ^ Bryant, Howard. Shut Out: Race and Baseball in Boston, New York: Routledge, 2002
  7. ^ "George W. Killen". findagrave.com. Retrieved February 25, 2015.
  8. ^ "Killed One In Accident While Drunk". The Miami News. 16 January 1969. Retrieved 12 June 2013.
  9. ^ "Former Sox Manager to Start Prison Term". Ocala Star-Banner. Ocala, Florida. January 16, 1969. p. 1. Retrieved February 25, 2015.
  10. ^ "Pinky Higgins Dies, All-Time Baseball Star". The Morning Record. 22 March 1969. Retrieved 12 June 2013.

Further reading

External links

Achievements
Preceded by
Mickey Cochrane
Hitting for the cycle
August 6, 1933
Succeeded by
Jimmie Foxx
1933 Philadelphia Athletics season

The 1933 Philadelphia Athletics season involved the A's finishing 3rd in the American League with a record of 79 wins and 72 losses. Jimmie Foxx became the first player to win two American League MVP Awards.

1934 Philadelphia Athletics season

The 1934 Philadelphia Athletics season involved the A's finishing 5th in the American League with a record of 78 wins and 82 losses.

1935 Philadelphia Athletics season

The 1935 Philadelphia Athletics season involved the A's finishing 8th in the American League with a record of 58 wins and 91 losses.

Before 1935, 20th Street residents could see games for free over the 12-foot right-field fence of Shibe Park and fans could see the laundry lines on the roofs of 20th Street houses. Connie Mack lost a lawsuit to prevent this, so he built the high right-field 'spite' fence.

1936 Major League Baseball All-Star Game

The 1936 Major League Baseball All-Star Game was the fourth 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, 1936, at National League Park in Boston, Massachusetts, the home of the Boston Bees of the National League. The game resulted in the National League defeating the American League 4–3. It was the National League's first win in All-Star Game history.

1937 Boston Red Sox season

The 1937 Boston Red Sox season was the 37th season in the franchise's Major League Baseball history. The Red Sox finished fifth in the American League (AL) with a record of 80 wins and 72 losses.

1938 Boston Red Sox season

The 1938 Boston Red Sox season was the 38th season in the franchise's Major League Baseball history. The Red Sox finished second in the American League (AL) with a record of 88 wins and 61 losses.

1955 Boston Red Sox season

The 1955 Boston Red Sox season was the 55th season in the franchise's Major League Baseball history. The Red Sox finished fourth in the American League (AL) with a record of 84 wins and 70 losses.

1956 Boston Red Sox season

The 1956 Boston Red Sox season was the 56th season in the franchise's Major League Baseball history. The Red Sox finished fourth in the American League (AL) with a record of 84 wins and 70 losses.

1958 Boston Red Sox season

The 1958 Boston Red Sox season was the 58th season in the franchise's Major League Baseball history. The Red Sox finished third in the American League (AL) with a record of 79 wins and 75 losses, thirteen games behind the AL and World Series champion New York Yankees. It would be the last time the Red Sox finished a season above .500, until their "Impossible Dream" season of 1967.

1959 Boston Red Sox season

The 1959 Boston Red Sox season was the 59th season in the franchise's Major League Baseball history. The Red Sox finished fifth in the American League (AL) with a record of 75 wins and 79 losses, nineteen games behind the AL champion Chicago White Sox.

1960 Boston Red Sox season

The 1960 Boston Red Sox season was the 60th season in the franchise's Major League Baseball history. The Red Sox finished seventh in the American League (AL) with a record of 65 wins and 89 losses, 32 games behind the AL champion New York Yankees.

1962 Boston Red Sox season

The 1962 Boston Red Sox season was the 62nd season in the franchise's Major League Baseball history. The Red Sox finished eighth in the American League (AL) with a record of 76 wins and 84 losses, 19 games behind the AL pennant winner and eventual World Series champion New York Yankees.

Archie McKain

Archie Richard "Happy" McKain (May 12, 1911 – May 21, 1985) was a left-handed Major League Baseball pitcher with the Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers and the St. Louis Browns between 1937 and 1943.

Born in Delphos, Kansas, McKain went 8-8 as a Red Sox rookie in 1937. He was traded to the Tigers with Pinky Higgins on December 15, 1938, for Elden Auker, Chet Morgan and Jake Wade. McKain went 5-0 with a 2.82 ERA (adjusted ERA+ of 168) for the 1940 Tigers, with 17 games finished. When the Browns traded him to Brooklyn in July 1943, he retired and returned to his native Kansas to farm. McKain died in 1985 at Salina, Kansas.

Dave Morehead

David Michael Morehead (born September 5, 1942 in San Diego, California) is a former Major League Baseball pitcher. A right-hander, Morehead pitched for the Boston Red Sox (1963–68) and Kansas City Royals (1969–70).

As a rookie in 1963 Morehead broke into the Red Sox starting rotation and posted a 10-13 record with a 3.81 earned run average. He shut out the Washington Senators in his Major League debut on April 13. On May 12 of that same year, he pitched a one-hitter against the same Senators, the lone hit coming on a Chuck Hinton home run.

In 1964 Morehead went 8-15 and his ERA ballooned to 4.97. In 1965 he tied for the American League lead with 18 losses, against 10 victories, for a Red Sox team that finished next-to-last, with 100 losses. On September 16 of the latter year, the same day the Red Sox fired Pinky Higgins as general manager, Morehead no-hit the Cleveland Indians 2-0 before only 1,247 fans in a day game at Fenway Park, the lone baserunner coming on Rocky Colavito's second-inning walk. Not until Hideo Nomo in 2001 would another Red Sox pitch a no-hitter, and the next no-hitter at Fenway Park wouldn't come until 2002 (Derek Lowe), It was the fourth no-hitter by a Red Sox pitcher in a ten-year period, with Mel Parnell pitching one in 1956 and Earl Wilson and Bill Monbouquette both pitching one in 1962. Parnell's and Wilson's no-hitters, like Morehead's, had also been pitched at Fenway Park—one of Major League Baseball's most notorious hitter-friendly stadiums. It would be another 37 years before a Red Sox pitcher threw a no-hitter at Fenway.

Over the next three years, Morehead would be beset by arm ailments that limited him to 33 games pitched—one fewer than in 1965. He was a member of the Carl Yastrzemski-led 1967 Red Sox team that won the American League pennant and pitched two games in relief in the World Series, which the Red Sox lost to the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games. Morehead was selected in the expansion draft by the Kansas City Royals and pitched in 21 games in 1969, 19 in relief. In 1970 he pitched in 28 games and posted a 3.62 ERA, the lowest of his career. In spring training of 1971, the Royals released him; he had pitched his final game at 28 years of age, the arm ailments having ended his career prematurely.

In his career, Morehead won 40 games against 64 losses with a 4.15 ERA and 627 strikeouts in 819.1 innings pitched. He also exhibited periods of wildness, walking 463 batters for just over 5 BB/9 innings. In each of his first three seasons, Morehead was second in the American League in walks with 99, 112 and 113 respectively.

Earl Mack Major League All-Stars

The Earl Mack Major League All-Stars were a baseball team in the 1930s. After the end of the 1934 season the team included Jimmie Foxx, Heinie Manush, Pinky Higgins, Doc Cramer, Ted Lyons and Earl Whitehill.

Jamestown Red Sox

The Jamestown Red Sox were an integrated semi-professional baseball team based in Jamestown, North Dakota in the 1930s.

The Red Sox played independently of any league because their mixed race roster was a problem in a period of segregation. As their player-manager from May to October 1934, Ted Radcliffe became the first black man to manage white professional players. With backing from the local Gladstone Hotel, the team also signed Barney Brown, Bill Perkins, and Steel Arm Davis to become the strongest team in North Dakota. The club played 56 games in that year going 40-16. After the regular season, the Red Sox played the Earl Mack Major League All-Stars featuring Jimmie Foxx, Heinie Manush, Pinky Higgins, Doc Cramer, Ted Lyons and Earl Whitehill. Jamestown won 3 straight games.

The team played in grey flannel jerseys decorated with a black felt letter "J" on the left breast and a red felt sock on the right sleeve.

Jim Schelle

Gerard Anthony "Jim" Schelle (April 13, 1917 – May 4, 1990) was an American professional baseball player who played in one game for the Philadelphia Athletics during the 1939 season.

Schelle was born in Baltimore, Maryland and attended Villanova University. He made his professional baseball debut in 1939 with the Federalsburg A's of the Eastern Shore League.

On July 23, Schelle made his one and only major league appearance with the Athletics. In a game against the Detroit Tigers, he came into the game to start the fourth inning in relief of Bob Joyce, with the A's already down 9-1. He proceeded to hit Rudy York with a pitch. He then gave up a single to Pinky Higgins and walked the following three Tiger batters, allowing all five batters he faced to reach base. At that point, Schelle was removed from the game (which ended with the Tigers winning 16-3) and was replaced by Nels Potter. Schelle's final totals were three earned runs allowed without retiring a batter, giving him an earned run average of infinity.

After the 1939 season, Schelle played two more seasons in minor league baseball with the Saginaw Athletics and Flint Gems. After serving in the U.S. Army during World War II, Schelle never returned to professional baseball. He died in Weymouth, Massachusetts at the age of 73.

San Antonio Indians

The San Antonio Indians were a minor league baseball team based in San Antonio, Texas, that played from 1929 to 1932 in the Texas League. They played their home games at League Park. Notable players include Ray Grimes, Wilbur Cooper, Sam Leslie, Jack Mealey, Jo-Jo Moore, and Pinky Higgins.

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