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Harlond Clift

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Harlond Benton Clift
(Darkie)

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 11", Weight 180 lb.

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[edit] Biographical Information

Harlond Clift was one of the top third basemen of the 1930s, skilled with both the bat and the glove. However, he is largely forgotten in modern times, perhaps because he played most of his career for the lowly St. Louis Browns.

Clift began his baseball career playing semi-pro ball in Yakima, Washington, in 1931 (according to a January 1982 interview in Baseball Digest). Originally a shortstop, he was discovered by a Browns scout and played in Wichita Falls, Texas in 1932. After playing for the San Antonio Missions in 1933, he became a regular at third for St. Louis in 1934 as a 21-year-old. In his rookie campaign, he was third in the American League with 10 triples.

In 1937, Clift hit .306 with 118 runs batted in and earned a trip to the All-Star Game. He also established the major league record for home runs by a third baseman with 29. The next year, 1938, he once again drove in 118 runs, but his average fell to .290. However, he clubbed 34 homers, third-best in the AL that year and setting another record for third basemen that was not broken until Eddie Mathews topped it in 1953. He also led American League third basemen in fielding, a feat he repeated in 1940. In 1942, he finished second in the league with 39 doubles.

Late in the 1943 season, Clift was dealt to the Washington Senators. However, a fall from a horse the following year limited his playing time that season, and he hit just .211 in 1945, his final big league campaign. After his major league days, he played two seasons for the Yakima Stars of the Western International League, hitting over .300 each time. The second year, 1947, he also managed the team.

Clift drew copious walks in the majors, getting over 100 in six different seasons (he was #85 on the all-time list as of 2010). He also scored more than 100 runs seven times. The most similar player as of 2010, according to the similarity scores method, is Ken Keltner.

Following his playing days, Clift was a Detroit Tigers scout. He also owned a ranch with 50,000 acres.

Clift's son, Harlond Clift Jr., played four seasons in the minors as a pitcher, including at Yakima in 1958.

[edit] Notable Achievements

  • AL All-Star (1937)
  • AL Bases on Balls Leader (1939)
  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 4 (1936-1938 & 1940)
  • 30-Home Run Seasons: 1 (1938)
  • 100 RBI Seasons: 2 (1937 & 1938)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 7 (1934-1938, 1941 & 1942)

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