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Bennie Daniels

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Bennie Daniels Jr.

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[edit] Biographical Information

In mid-July 1951 Bennie Daniels signed as an amateur free agent with the Pittsburgh Pirates by Pirates scout Rosie Gilhousen. A heralded three-sport athlete out of Compton High School in the Los Angeles, CA area, the 6' 2" righthander had a chance to attend UCLA on a basketball scholarship but instead chose to embark on a career in baseball.

After two seasons in the minor leagues with the Great Falls Electrics and the Modesto Reds, Bennie entered the United States Military, serving in 1953 and 1954, during the Korean War. He then split the 1955 and 1956 campaigns between the Lincoln Chiefs and the Billings Mustangs. At Lincoln in 1956 he went 15-3, with one of his defeats coming in a game in which he no-hit the league-winning Amarillo Gold Sox only to lose 1-0 on an unearned run.

The next season, 1957, he sizzled, going 17-8 with the Hollywood Stars of the Pacific Coast League, which earned him a late season call-up to the Pirates. On September 24th, Bennie was the Pirates' starter and 2-0 loser to the Brooklyn Dodgers in his major league debut in the last game played in Ebbets Field. Daniels went 0-3 in 8 games with the Pirates in 1958 before spending the entire season 1959 with the Bucs. In 1959, he split his time between starting and relieving and went 7-9 with an ERA of 5.45. He began the 1960 season with the Pirates but struggled. Daniels appeared in 10 games (including 6 starts) and complied a record of 1-3 with an ERA of 7.81. His best game that year was on May 23rd, when he lost, 1-0, to Sandy Koufax and the Los Angeles Dodgers. Koufax pitched a one-hitter. The lone Pirate hit was Daniels' single in the 2nd inning. Daniels was optioned to the minors on June 27th, and remained there the rest of the season, pitching for the AAA Columbus Jets while the Pirates went on to win the 1960 World Series.

Daniels was traded to the expansion Washington Senators along with R.C. Stevens and Harry Bright in exchange for Bobby Shantz on December 16, 1960. He became a member of the Senators' starting rotation for the next five years, but never topped his 1961 season, when he went 12-11 with a 3.44 ERA for a team that lost 100 times. He has the distinction of starting the last game played at Griffith Stadium that season, and on April 9, 1962, of winning the first game played at D.C. Stadium, later re-named RFK Stadium, when he beat the Detroit Tigers, 4-1, on a five-hitter. He then lost ten straight games however and finished the season at 7-16, 4.85.

His five-year record in Washington was 37-60. Lifetime, he went 45-76 with a 4.44 ERA in a career that was sometimes brilliant but more often erratic. Bennie ended his 14 active seasons of pro baseball (1951-1966) with the Hawaii Islanders of the Pacific Coast League. He also hit 5 home runs in his career.

Following his playing days, Daniels conducted baseball clinics for children in Los Angeles. He also worked at the Martin Luther King Hospital in South Los Angeles for some 10 years where he directed programs funded under the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA). He also was employed at the Long Beach, CA Veterans Hospital for 15 years where he was an orthopedic scheduling clerk until his retirement. He still makes appearances as an autograph guest at various sports card shows.

[edit] Sources

Baseball-Reference.com
Baseball Players of the 1950s
SABR MILB Database:page

[edit] Further Reading

  • Greg Erion: "Bennie Daniels", in Clifton Blue Parker and Bill Nowlin, ed.: Sweet '60: The 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates, SABR, Phoenix, AZ, 2013, pp. 55-60. ISBN 978-1-93359-948-9

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