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Catfish Metkovich

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George Michael Metkovich

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Catfish Metkovich was an outfielder and first baseman who had a 10-season career in the big leagues from 1943 to 1954, and also played on the famous 1948 Oakland Oaks team.

One source says he looked like Ted Williams, although pictures of him also look a bit like the young Steve Garvey. So imagine Ted's face with a bit of the young Garvey eyes and baby fat, and you've about got it.

Metkovich (the name is of Croatian background) was born in 1920 in Angels Camp, CA, a place in the middle of nowhere about 25 miles from Yosemite National Park. He went to John C. Fremont High School in Los Angeles, CA. He was signed out of high school by the Detroit Tigers in 1939.

He played at Henderson in the East Texas League in 1939. In January 1940, he and many other Detroit signees were declared free agents by the commissioner of baseball, and he signed with the Boston Bees. He played at Evansville in the III League.

In 1943, he split his time between the Boston Red Sox and the San Francisco Seals. In his first season in the majors, he appeared in 73 games and hit .246. With the Seals in the minors, he played for manager Lefty O'Doul and hit .325.

His best season was 1944, when he hit .277 with 9 home runs and 13 stolen bases. The stolen bases led the Red Sox that year.

Ted Williams was away from the team most of the war years, but they played on the same team in 1946, along with Bobby Doerr, Dom DiMaggio, and Rudy York. He pinch-hit a double and scored a run in the seventh game of the 1946 World Series.

He was with the Oakland Oaks in all or part of 1948-1950 and 1955. The 1948 team, managed by Casey Stengel, was considered one of the great minor league teams of all time. Metkovich is generally thought of as one of the Nine Old Men, although he was fairly young at the time. Metkovich was dubbed "Catfish" by Stengel after he cut himself removing a hook from a catfish.

When he came back to the majors in 1951 (he played in the majors in 1947, 1949, and 1951, but was with the Oaks all of 1948 and 1950), he hit .293 for the Pittsburgh Pirates. His teammates in 1951 included Ralph Kiner, and in 1952 the rookie Dick Groat. He and Kiner and others were involved in a trade in the middle of 1953 which brought them to the Chicago Cubs. After the season, Metkovich was sold to the Milwaukee Braves, where he finished out his major league career as a backup, hitting .276, in 1954 the same season as Hank Aaron played his rookie year for the Braves, hitting .280.

According to the similarity scores method, one of the two most similar players to Metkovich is Cesar Geronimo, the center fielder from the Big Red Machine from the 1970s.

He said he owed his success to his oldest brother who practiced with him all the time. During the off-seasons, he was an "airplane inspector".

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