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Mickey Vernon

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James Barton Vernon

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[edit] Biographical Information

Mickey Vernon was an outstanding hitter and fielder largely for the Washington Senators during their most hapless decades. Vernon closed his stellar 20-year career, at age 42, with almost 2500 hits. He broke into the Bigs as baseball's youngest player in 1939 and finished as its oldest player in 1960. Mickey Vernon is one of a small number of players who played in four decades.

In Hall of Fame voting by the BBWAA, he got as high as 25% of the vote. In the 2007 voting by the Veterans Committee, he received 17% of the vote.

Possessing excellent bat control and an eagle eye, he led the league twice in batting average and three times in doubles; 4 times in on-base percentage and was a 7-time All-Star selection and posted a .359 on-base percentage. The expansive Griffith Stadium affected Vernon's extra-base hit totals. Vernon hit 55 home runs in his home parks, while hitting 117 on the road.

Losing two of his prime years to military service during World War II also limited his career statistics. He missed the 1944 and 1945 seasons. These seasons came and went while Mickey Vernon would have been in the prime of his career - 26/27 years old. Had he played these seasons, his all-time hit totals would have approached 2,900. Vernon holds the major league record by participating in the turning of 2044 double plays. As good a hitter as he was, Vernon was probably an even better fielder. The Yankees and Senators reportedly once seriously discussed a DiMaggio for Vernon trade [citation needed].

After making quick stops with the Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Indians and Milwaukee Braves, he retired as a player after the 1959 season and became the first base coach for the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1960. With the Pirates fighting for the National League pennant, Vernon was activated as a player in September when rosters were expanded. He appeared in 9 games, all as a pinch-hitter, going 1 for 8 with 1 RBI and 1 walk.

Vernon then returned to DC to become the expansion Senators' first manager in 1961. He managed the Senators from 1961 to 1963, coached with the Pirates again in 1964 and also with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1965. He then managed the Vancouver Mounties (1966-1968), Richmond Braves (1969-1970), and Manchester Yankees (1971). Vernon was a minor league batting instructor for the Kansas City Royals in 1973 and 1974 and Los Angeles Dodgers in 1975 and 1976. He returned to the big leagues as a coach for the Montreal Expos (1977-1978) and New York Yankees (1982).

The most similar players to Mickey Vernon, based on the similarity scores method, are first basemen with high averages, a lot of doubles, and long careers such as Mark Grace, Bill Buckner, Al Oliver and Keith Hernandez. However, a more appropriate comparison may be Enos Slaughter, who also lost some of his best years to service in World War II, although Enos was a much better hitter overall.

Appropriately, Vernon was one of several people who threw out the ceremonial first pitch for the 2007 opener of the Washington Nationals. He died a year later at the ripe age of 90.

[edit] Notable Achievements

  • 7-time AL All-Star (1946, 1948, 1953-1956 & 1958)
  • 2-time AL Batting Average Leader (1946 & 1953)
  • 3-time AL Doubles Leader (1946, 1953 & 1954)
  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 1 (1954)
  • 100 RBI Seasons: 1 (1953)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 1 (1953)
  • 200 Hits Seasons: 2 (1946 & 1953)


Preceded by
N/A
Washington Senators Manager
1961-1963
Succeeded by
Gil Hodges

[edit] Year-By-Year Managerial Record

Year Team League Record Finish Organization Playoffs Notes
1961 Washington Senators American League 61-100 9th Washington Senators
1962 Washington Senators American League 60-101 10th Washington Senators
1963 Washington Senators American League 14-26 -- Washington Senators replaced by Eddie Yost on May 22
1966 Vancouver Mounties Pacific Coast League 77-71 6th Kansas City Athletics
1967 Vancouver Mounties Pacific Coast League 77-69 4th Kansas City Athletics
1968 Vancouver Mounties Pacific Coast League 58-88 12th Oakland Athletics
1969 Richmond Braves International League 56-83 8th Atlanta Braves
1970 Richmond Braves International League 73-67 5th Atlanta Braves
1971 Manchester Yankees Eastern League 61-75 8th New York Yankees

[edit] Records Held

  • Double plays, first baseman, career, 2044

[edit] Further Reading

  • Rich Westcott: "Mickey Vernon", in Mark Armour and Bill Nowlin, eds.: Red Sox Baseball in the Days of Ike and Elvis: The Red Sox of the 1950s, SABR, Phoenix, AZ, 2012, pp. 166-173. ISBN 978-1933599243

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