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Al Papai

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Alfred Thomas Papai

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[edit] Biographical Information

Right-hander Al Papai a slender 6' 3" pitcher was 23 years old when he was signed as an amateur free agent by the St. Louis Cardinals before the 1940 season. He would spend his first season with the Worthington Cardinals of the class D Western League going 12-10 with a 3.36 ERA while pitching 209 innings. He was moved up to the Springfield Cardinals of the class C Western Association for his second season and cooled off a bit going 7-6 with a 5.30 ERA. Papai received notice then from the United States Military Service and would spend the next three seasons (1942-44) with the Army during World War II.

Back in his baseball uniform in 1945 Al would spend three more years in the minors and would win 21 and lose 10 for the Houston Buffaloes of the AA Texas League with a 2.45 ERA while pitching 283 innings in 1947 and was brought up to the St. Louis Cardinals, debuting on April 24, 1948. Al appeared in 10 games for the Cards, going 0-1 with a 5.06 ERA and finished out the year with the Rochester Red Wings of the International League with a 5-6 record and a 4.37 ERA. Papai would then be selected off waivers by the St. Louis Browns from the Cardinals on May 4, 1949.

Papai was just 4-11 for the Browns in 1949, but did have one outstanding outing, a 10 inning two-hit shutout over New York at Yankee Stadium. The Boston Red Sox took him off waivers on December 1, 1949 and he was 4-2 but had a 6.75 ERA and the St. Louis Cardinals would try him again taking him off waivers from the Red Sox on July 5, 1950. He would finally wind up this year with a combined 5-2 record and a 6.33 ERA in 29 appearances.

Al, now 34 years old, would drop back down with Houston again in 1951, lead the Texas League with 23 wins and lose but 9 with a 2.51 ERA while pitching 272 innings and helped his team win both the league pennant and the playoffs. One would think that after this show he would get a call from the big guys, but none came and Al would have to do it one more time with the Oklahoma City Indians, also of the Texas League in 1955, going 23-7 with a 2.65 ERA in 255 innings.

This caused a stir and the Chicago White Sox gave him a ring on September 1, 1955 and he had his last and brief stay in the major leagues, appearing in 7 games with no decisions and this ended his four year major league tour with a 9-14 record and a 5.37 ERA. Big Al hung in for three more seasons in the minors, finishing up in 1958 at 41 years of age and a minor league stat sheet that says he played 14 seasons, winning 173 games and losing 128 with a 3.27 ERA, while pitching 2,622 innings.

After baseball Papai was a mail carrier for twenty years in Springfield, IL, where he passed away September 7, 1995, at age 78.


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Baseball Players of the 1950s

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