Buddy Gilbert

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Drew Edward Gilbert

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Biographical Information[edit]

As a youngster growing up in Knoxville, TN, Buddy Gilbert was the bat boy for his hometown professional team in the Tri-State League. In 1959 he was a big league outfielder for a short stay of seven games with the Cincinnati Redlegs, picking up three base hits in 20 at-bats for a .150 batting average. Two of the hits were home runs, though, and he recalls that both came against the Pittsburg Pirates off Dick Hall and Jim Umbricht.

He also remembered a throwing contest against the great Roberto Clemente in which he was declared the winner in both distance and accuracy, and that afterwards Clemente told him: "Kid, you have a hell of an arm."

According to Curt Flood's autobiography, while playing in the minor leagues in the Jim Crow South, Gilbert would often bring meals to teammates Flood and Leo Cardenas on the team bus so they didn't have to go to the back door of restaurants to be served.

Buddy had been signed by the Cincinnati Redlegs as an amateur free agent before the 1954 season and the 6'3" outfielder played his first year in pro ball with the class D Douglas Trojans of the Georgia State League where he had a league-leading 173 base hits (including 16 home runs) and a .335 batting average with a .533 slugging percentage. The 18-year-old was also named to the All-Star team.

In 1955 the former bat boy was with the class C Ogden Reds of the Pioneer League where he hit an even .300 and also busted 15 homers. He again made the All-Star team. Buddy was with the Class A Savannah Redlegs in 1956 and 1957, hitting 13 homers and batting .265 the first year and hitting 19 homers with a .271 average in 1957, also making the All-Star team.

1958 and 1959 found him on the AA Nashville Volunteers roster, where he hit 27 homers for the Vols in 1958 and again made the All-Star squad. Along with his short seven-game stop with Cincinnati, he picked up 142 base hits (including 24 home runs) and hit at a .282 clip for the Vols in the 1959 season.

Gilbert spent 1960 and 1961 in part with the Seattle Rainiers and Indianapolis Indians before he finished out his eight year pro baseball career with the Nashville Vols in 1961. His numbers had tapered off and the 25-year-old outfielder decided to return to school at the University of Tennessee. From 1954 to 1961, Buddy appeared in 958 minor league contests, going to bat 3,692 times with 1,002 base hits (including 141 home runs) for a career .271 average with a .464 slug.

After baseball and school Buddy became a loan officer for the Guarantee Mortgage Company from 1964 to 1983, and for a number of years later was the owner and president of Eagle Realty Corporation in Knoxville, TN, involved in the selling of residential homes, shopping centers and business offices.


Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball: Third Edition
Baseball Players of the 1950s
SABR MILB Database:page

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