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George Spencer

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George Elwell Spencer

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George Spencer a right-hander from Columbus, OH, who was a quarterback on the Ohio State University football team in 1946, was signed as an amateur free agent by the New York Giants before the 1948 season. George spent his first three seasons (1948-1950) in the middle minor leagues, winning 34 games and losing 25 before getting a chance to debut with the big league Giants on August 17, 1950, where he finished out the year with a 1-0 record appearing in 10 games.

George went 10-4 with 6 saves and a 3.75 ERA in 132 innings for the Polo Grounders in 1951 and was one of the unsung stars of the National League Champion Giants with his outstanding clutch pitching out of the bullpen. All but four of George's 57 appearances came in relief that year. In a rare start on August 13th he beat the Brooklyn Dodgers, 4-2, cutting the Dodgers' lead to 11 1/2 games. In the book The Shot Heard 'Round the World, George commented: "I was surprised that Leo Durocher picked me to start that day, but he knew I did pretty well against Brooklyn. It was was probably the best game I ever pitched." From August 12th to the 27th the Giants won 16 in a row to climb back in the race and George was the winning pitcher in four of the games.

It was an all-New York World Series in 1951 and the Yankees beat the Giants, 4 games to 2. George saw minor action in the series, appearing in two games with no decisions. Spencer would never again be effective but he had four more appearances with the Giants in 1952 through 1955, with little action, and finished up his major league run with the Detroit Tigers in 1958 and 1960. His big league totals show that George appeared in 122 games, pitching 251 innings and had a 16-10 record with a 4.05 ERA.

Spencer stayed on as an active player through 1963 in the minors with his last good season coming in 1962 when he went 11-2 with a 2.72 ERA, pitching 129 innings in the Pacific Coast League for the Seattle Rainiers at the age of 35. George finished up his 15-year minor league run with a 110-78 record and a 3.71 ERA while pitching 1,570 innings. As most old players do, George tried a season of managing with the Statesville Tigers of the Western Carolinas League in 1966, and along with Al Lakeman, they brought the Tigers in in seventh place with a 42-81 record, 42 1/2 games back.

When the smoke cleared, George remained in baseball through the 1960s as a pitching instructor, in both the Detroit Tigers and Cincinnati Reds organizations, before returning to his native state of Ohio and becoming a sheet metal worker. He retired in Galena, Ohio, on Hoosier Reservoir, a small village about 10 miles north of Columbus and died there in 2014.

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Baseball Players of the 1950s

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