Francis Joseph Shea
(The Naugatuck Nugget)
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 0", Weight 195 lb.
- Debut April 19, 1947
- Final Game August 27, 1955
- Born October 2, 1920 in Naugatuck, CT USA
- Died July 19, 2002 in New Haven, CT USA
Francis "Spec" Shea pitched eight years in the majors. He burst onto the scene in 1947 as a 26-year-old rookie, winning 14 games for the New York Yankees and leading the American League in winning percentage. In the 1947 World Series, he won two games (Game 1 and Game 5) and also hit .400. He started the decisive 7th game against the Brooklyn Dodgers but was taken out after only an inning and a third; Bill Bevens replaced him, and the Yankees eventually won the game and the Series.
Spec was in the minors in 1940-1942 and might have made his major league debut earlier but for World War II. In 1941, he went 16-10 for the Norfolk Tars, a team which also featured the 41-year-old Garland Braxton. Shea came back after the war to pitch for Oakland in 1946, going 15-5 under manager Casey Stengel. He was the "secret" Rookie of the Year in 1947. Only one award was given that year - to National Leaguer Jackie Robinson, but Shea was the top vote-getter in the American League and thus would likely have won the award had one been given for that league.
Spec found himself back in the minors for part of 1949 and all of 1950. When he came back to the majors after that, he had substantial success with two Washington Senators teams that were roughly .500 clubs - he went 11-7 and then 12-7 in 1952 and 1953.
Of all things Yogi: I just heard Mr. Berra mention that, while riding with Frank Shea to Ebbets Field during the 1947 World Series, Mr. Shea sometimes wore a mask over his face- so as to not be identified. -Fred Gasparini
Many years after his career ended, he earned a measure of fame by working with Robert Redford to teach him how to look like an old-time hurler for the movie The Natural.
- AL All-Star (1947)
- AL Winning Percentage Leader (1947)
- Won two World Series with the New York Yankees (1947 & 1951; he did not play in the 1951 World Series)