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Art Shamsky

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Arthur Louis Shamsky

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Art Shamsky began his professional baseball career as an 18-year-old with the 1960 Geneva Redlegs and homered in his first at-bat. A roommate of Pete Rose that year, Art hit .271 and slugged .480. His 18 homers were second in the league, four behind Larry Daniels and well ahead of Tony Perez and Dick Allen. Shamsky led the league's outfielders in assists and he made the All-Star team. Art moved up to the Topeka Reds the next year and hit .288, slugging .469 and whacking 15 home runs. In '62, the young outfielder was with the Macon Peaches and contributed 16 long balls and a .284 mark as he remained consistent in his climb up the minor league leadder.

By 1963, Art was in AAA as a 21-year-old with the San Diego Padres and hit .267 with 18 HR. Repeating with San Diego the next year, he batted .272 and launched 25 circuit clouts to finish 8th in the Pacific Coast League in that category and second on the Padres behind Perez's 34.

In 1965, Shamsky made the Cincinnati Reds out of spring training as a sub and hit .260/.330/.427, a good 109 OPS+ for a backup OF. He batted .289 as a pinch-hitter that year. Despite getting only 272 plate appearances for the 1966 Reds, Art was second on the team with 21 homers, trailing Deron Johnson by 3. He hit .231/.321/.521 for a 122 OPS+ and homered four times in four at-bats from August 12 through August 14, tying a Major League Baseball record. On August 12, Shamsky became the first player in Reds history to hit two extra-inning home runs in one game. He entered that game in an eighth-inning double switch, and hit three home runs. No substitute has hit three home runs in any major league game since then: it is not known if anyone had done this previously. It would be 46 years until another player had three game-tying or go-ahead RBI in the 8th inning or later (when Ian Desmond did so). http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/CIN/CIN196608120.shtml

When Shamsky slipped to .197/.274/.293 for the 1967 Reds, he found himself the subject of a post-season trade to the New York Mets for Bob Johnson. After a .238/.292/.406 season with good pop but not enough times on base, Art began the 1969 campaign with the Tidewater Tides. After four homers in 11 games there, he was called back and hit .300/.375/.488 (139 OPS+) as a key contributor to the Miracle Mets. He hit .538 in the first National League Championship Series and led the NLCS with seven hits.

Art was in the starting lineup for Game 3 of the 1969 World Series on his birthday. This would be his only start ever in a World Series game. Shamsky went hitless in six times at bat in the Series, but the Mets defeated the Orioles, four games to one.

At age 28, Art contributed a solid .293/.371/.432 (115 OPS+) as a 1B/RF in 1970. He slipped to .185/.299/.370 in 1971, still drawing walks and hitting homers but no longer making enough contact to maintain a regular role. Traded to the St. Louis Cardinals as part of a 8-player exchange, the declining player (limited by back problems) was released by the Cards in April 1972. Picked up by the Chicago Cubs, he was just 2 for 16 with Chicago but hit .266/~.434/.609 in 26 games for the Wichita Aeros, showing he could still crush AAA pitching at least, drawing 19 walks and homering six times. On June 28, his contract was purchsed by the Oakland A's and he went 0 for 7 for Oakland, with one walk, never playing a game in the field for them. With the back problems and declining production, Shamsky retired after 13 years in pro baseball, 170 homers and a World Series ring. His career OPS+ of 110 was perfectly respectable for a backup OF-1B and top bench threat.

After retiring, Art worked as a consultant for a real estate investment firm in New York, NY and was a radio and television broadcaster for the New York Mets in 1980 and 1981. He also owned a restaurant in New York.

In 2007, Shamsky was hired to manage in the first year of the Israel Baseball League.

Sources: The Big Book of Jewish Baseball by Peter Horvitz and Joachim Horvitz, 1973 Baseball Guide, Pat Doyle's Professional Baseball Player Database, Great Jews in Sports by Robert Slater

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