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Fred Van Dusen

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Frederick William Van Dusen

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[edit] Biographical Information

Fred Van Dusen was signed by the Philadelphia Phillies to an amateur free agent Bonus Baby contract in 1955. Being born on July 31, 1937, he became the youngest player to perform in the National League that year. Fred, who became a one-game big leaguer, is also one of five players in big league history to be hit by a pitch in what would be their only plate appearance in the majors. The others are: Ham Wade (1907), Charlie Faust (1911), Harvey Grubb (1912), and Cy Malis (1934). Adam Greenberg had seemingly joined that club in 2005, but made an unlikely one-game comeback seven years later to lose that distinction. Van Dusen is the only player in the group who never played in the field. He had been sent in as a pinch-hitter to face Humberto Robinson of the Milwaukee Braves and was nicked in the knee by a curveball on a 0-2 count; the next two Phillies batters made outs, ending the game.

Frederick William Van Dusen, a name which would seem a better fit in the society pages, made it into a major league box score for the only time on September 11, 1955. Fred, an 18-year-old lefthanded-hitting outfielder from Jackson Heights, NY, then continued to play in the minor leagues through 1961, never getting another chance at the show.

The Bonus Baby remained in the Philadelphia Phillies chain throughout the rest of his career, playing with the the Wilson Tobs of the class B Carolina League in 1956 where he hit at a .252 clip with 11 home runs while playing in 140 games. Fred cracked the .300 barrier only one time in his six-year minor league run, in 1957, again in the Carolina League, this time with the High Point-Thomasville Hi-Toms when he hit .310, blasted 25 round-trippers and was chosen the league's Most Valuable Player. However, just when he seemed to be on his way back to the major leagues, he had rough start to the 1958 season, hitting a mere .167 in 22 games for the AAA Miami Marlins to be sent down to the Eastern League. There he hit .218 for the Williamsport Grays and lost the remainder of his prospect luster.

Van Dusen had two more seasons where he hit the double-digit figure in home runs, hitting 14 in 1959 for Williamsport, and in a split season in 1960 with the Asheville Tourists of the South Atlantic League and the AAA Indianapolis Indians of the American Association, he hit for the circuit 24 times with 67 RBIs. Fred finished up his pro baseball career in 1961 with the Chattanooga Lookouts of the Southern Association at the tender age of 23 with a career .260 hitting average and 86 home runs while appearing in 650 outings.

Van Dusen later entered the investment and insurance business in New York City and as of 1999 was residing in Stamford, CT. On October 2, 2012, he was invited to throw out the ceremonial first pitch in Miami, FL in the game in which Adam Greenberg made his one-game comeback.

[edit] Notable Achievements

[edit] Sources

Baseball Players of the 1950s

[edit] Further Reading

  • Sam Zygner: "Phillies Bonus Babies, 1953–57", in Morris Levin, ed.: From Swampoodle to South Philly: Baseball in Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley, The National Pastime, SABR, 2013, pp. 92-97.

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