Tigers, Jimmy Dykes, Bill Norman discussed on Effectively Wild: A FanGraphs Baseball Podcast
Up some stats the other day and we were looking up players whose teams played much better when they were in the lineup than when they were not. And we found that your tigers teams that you played for did much better, one much more often when you were in the lineup than when you were not. And we thought. So you knew that. Well, you know what I'm saying is before you get too far, I come to Detroit in 55. Of course I was Boston for four years, but which I didn't play as was said Williams. But I always amazed me before we get into your questions there that Detroit never built their team after left hand hitters. Ah. It's all right hand hairs. Had you ever looked that up? No, but maybe we will now. Well, yeah, you will, because I think I hit 31 at one year, and dick works. The record for the most lessons at 28, of course, Hank Greenberg, those guys. They always had a lot of right handers, but they never was a port. Like three 15, it was. They never built their team on left centers. Okay, so I'll let you go. Now well, we were impressed that the tigers won so much more often when you were starting and then we looked into the rest of your career and of course you had a fascinating career in life and I guess maybe a good example of the tigers doing better with you than they did without you is of course the famous story may 3rd, 1959, the tigers had started out two and 15. Jimmy dykes had just replaced Bill Norman as manager, Norman asked his coaches what the problem with the team was, and they told him the wrong guys were playing in the right guys. We're sitting on the bench, right? And you were one of the right guys. So what happened next when he put you in? When Jimmy died to come, he says, what is wrong with the team? And the coaches says, he's got a better team on the bench than he did on a field. And so the coaches actually made the lineup for that double hundred we played. And why were you not starting up to that point in the season? Well, it was playing everybody. I guess I was not one of Norman's favorite player. In fact, I don't think he had ever knew my name. He always called me ladybug. Or something like that. I don't think he ever knew my name. I don't think. Here we went spring and I've been there for a while, but he was a different kind of manager, but this way. So he put you in the lineup, dykes did, and of course you hit the four home runs that day between the two games and then the tigers went off on a hot streak. And I guess you were set in the lineup for a while after that. That's right, that's true, yeah. That's true, yeah. Well, I wanted to ask about early in your career because I know you joined the army when you were 18 in 1945. Now, did you enlist or get drafted and was that before or after the end of the war? No, I was going to lesser messenger university and I got drafted. And so I think a few months after I got dressed and they dropped the drafts and I hated I just heard the army. I never shot a gun, and that was one place I did not want to go, and I already had a contract go with Boston and here I had to go in the army and I didn't like that at all. Yeah, I can imagine. Was that before V day and VJ day or after that you were drafted? Well, no, the war was so hot. Yeah. And maybe it's just going off. I can't remember exactly. But surely, I like 5, 6 months after I got in there, they started letting the shops raft. And so they started letting them out. So I wasn't in there very long. I sure glad was that. And then after your service, you mentioned you had already signed a contract with Boston. You went through their minor league system and you mentioned you didn't get a lot of playing time at the big league level because of Ted Williams. What was it like to play around him or be near him in that time? Well, I come up with a league of 1950 and I was the first rookie to make the team a number of years and I was left handed and of course I didn't build a team around left handers. But I had a lot of good years in the minor leagues and I become real good friends with saint Williams and we got way ahead and Ted went out and I come in and have said went out, I always come in. He showed me how to play the wall because that wall is different. About 12 feet up of cement and then rest of sand. So you got to know how to play that. Some people only go to first base instead of second base, you know? And so but I never got a lot of playing time. But in 51, I don't know if you don't know research. My first three home runs was off Hall of Famers. Yes, bob feller, bob Levin, and satchel page. Yeah. That's right. I'll pinch hits. That's right. That's right. Yeah. Did you feel like baseball was pretty easy at that point? Well, you see, I come from a small town and only about a thousand people. And I thought, man, here I am one of the 400 best ball players in the major leagues today. And for me, come from a small town like I did, I thought that's a real honor to get there and sure I wanted to play because I always played every game in the minor leagues and had third force of 5th now I come up there and of course the magdalena playing center field guy names always playing right and limbs is playing less. So I never really got to play except for Tencent and stuff like that. And then I play defense because that's real good difference player two along with that. Right, yeah, Ted Williams was an incredible hitter, but you were probably a better outfielder than he was. I imagine. Oh yeah, yeah. Right..