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From BR Bullpen
Joseph Paul DeMaestri (Oats)
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 0", Weight 174 lb.
- High School Tamalpais High School
- Debut April 19, 1951
- Final Game September 27, 1961
- Born December 9, 1928 in San Francisco, CA USA
 Biographical Information
Before the 1946 season, shortstop Joe DeMaestri was signed by the Boston Red Sox as an amateur free agent. The 18-year-old would carry the nickname "Oats" for his entire baseball career due to a family friend hanging it on him early in his youth because of his pronounced blond hair. "Oats" was assigned to the class C El Paso Texans. He would appear in 76 games and hit for a .264 average.
He would spend the 1948 season with the San Jose Red Sox and hit .286 in 131 games. 1949 would see him with the Oneonta Red Sox where he hit .277 and in 1950 he would suit up with the AA Birmingham Barons, play in 143 games, hit .283 and say good-by to the minor leagues, never to return.
"Oats's" game spoke for itself and also to the Chicago White Sox who drafted him from the Red Sox in the 1950 Rule V Draft. DeMaestri saw his first big league pitch on April 19,1951, when he faced St. Louis Browns pitcher Bill Kennedy. "The first five games I started in the big leagues, I got a hit in my first at bat," remembered the former shortstop.
With the White Sox, Demaestri played for Paul Richards, whom he rated as the best manager he ever played for. "He was three innings ahead of everybody else during the ball game," he said. Joe had a so-so year with the 1951 White Sox, getting into 56 games and hitting .203 and fielding at about the same pace in the Sox infield.
On November 27, 1951 Joe was traded to the St. Louis Browns in a multi-player deal. The White Sox got pitcher Al Widmar, catcher Sherm Lollar and shortstop Tom Upton for DeMaestri, pitcher Dick Littlefield, catcher Gus Niarhos, first baseman Gordon Goldsberry and outfielder Jim Rivera.
"Oats" was with the Browns for the 1952 season, had the pleasure of playing for Rogers Hornsby and a seventh-place club that finised 64-90, 31 games back. Joe was not the best himself. He appeared in 81 games, hitting .226 and fielding .939 at the shortstop position. The Browns chose to give him back to the White Sox and on October 16, 1952 he was traded with Tommy Byrne to the White Sox for Hank Edwards and Willy Miranda. The ink was barely dry on that agreement when the White Sox sent him along with Ed McGhee and Eddie Robinson to the Philadelphia Athletics for Ferris Fain and Bob Wilson.
As luck goes in baseball, bad for the one, good for the other, Joe stepped into a spot where the Athletics' regular shortstop Eddie Joost had injured his knee and DeMaestri became the A's regular shotstop for the next seven years. A modest .236 hitter who didn't cause sleepless nights for opposing pitchers, "Oats" had Mike Garcia's number. Twice in the span of three weeks during the '54 season, he collected the only hit in the game off the "Big Bear." "Both hits were identical," recalled "Oats." "I hit two line drives right by his head."
In a game on July 8, 1955, Joe had six singles in six at-bats at Detroit. A member of the All-Star squad in 1957, he led all shortstops in fielding percentage that season and again in 1958. The last of the Philadelphia Athletics players with the team in Kansas City, he was part of the trade on December 11, 1959 that sent Roger Maris and Kent Hadley to the New York Yankees for Don Larsen, Hank Bauer, Norm Siebern and Marv Throneberry.
In 1960, Joe got into only 49 games and hit .229, playing as a back-up for Tony Kubek. In game two of the World Series against Pittsburgh, Joe singled off the bench and scored a run in the Yankees' 16-3 rout over the Pirates. In game seven, he replaced Kubek at short in the eighth inning after Tony was hit in the throat by a ground ball of the bat of Bill Virdon.
1961 would be DeMaestri's last year in professional baseball. In his backup role, he appeared in only 30 games and hit for the lowest batting average of his career, a docile .146 in 41 at-bats. However he was around for one of baseball's most historic moments on October 1, 1961, when Roger Maris hit his 61st home run of the season to break Babe Ruth's single-season record of 60. "Oats", along with Kubek and Skowron pushed Maris out of the dugout to make a curtain call, which at that time was an unusual practice.
Following his playing days, Demaestri had a beer distributorship with Anheuser Busch for 33 years before it was sold in 1991. He lives in Novato, CA as of last notice.