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Merl Combs

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Merrill Russell Combs

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Infielder Merl Combs began his pro career after three years at the University of Southern California. He was signed before the 1941 season as an amateur free agent by the Boston Red Sox. They assigned him to the class B Greensboro Red Sox for his initial season and the rookie shortstop appeared in 92 games, hitting at a .288 clip and had a fielding percentage of .942.

The United States Military called for his services and he served the next four years, 1942 through 1945, with the army in World War II. Merl was back in time for the 1946 season with the Class A Scranton Red Sox where he got into 72 games and hit .218.

Merl appeared with the Louisville Colonels, the Columbus Red Birds and the Toronto Maple Leafs before getting called up by the parent Red Sox in late 1947, where he appeared in 17 games, hitting .221 and played errorless ball. He was with Casey Stengel's Pacific Coast League Oakland Oaks in 1948, appearing in 175 games, all at the shortstop position and hit for a .271 average with 10 home runs.

Combs was with Boston in 1949, appearing in only 14 games and was traded to the Washington Senators along with Tommy O'Brien for Clyde Vollmer on May 8, 1950. Unable to really get anything going, he appeared in 37 games with the Senators in 1950 and was traded to the St. Louis Browns in an unknown transaction before the 1951 season. In turn the Browns sent him to the Cleveland Indians along with Snuffy Stirnweiss for Fred Martin and $35,000.

Merl was with Cleveland for both the 1951 and 1952 seasons, appearing in a combined 71 games, hitting for a .238 average. 1952 would be Merl's last in the major leagues and his five-year run showed a career .202 batting average and a .970 fielding percentage.

Combs spent 1953 and 1954 in the PCL with the Seattle Rainiers and the Sacramento Solons, played reguarly and hit for a .255 average.

The former infielder was a Texas Rangers coach in 1974 and 1975. He was then a west coast scout for the Cleveland Indians prior to his death on July 8, 1981, at age 62 in Riverside, CA.

[edit] Sources

Baseball-Reference.com
Baseball Players of the 1950s
SABR MILB Database:page

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