Buzz Arlett

From BR Bullpen

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Russell Loris Arlett

  • Bats Both, Throws Right
  • Height 6' 2", Weight 210 lb.

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Biographical Information[edit]

Buzz Arlett was a minor league superstar. Called the "Babe Ruth of the Minor Leagues", he, like Ruth, began his career as a dominant pitcher before eventually becoming an excellent slugger. Despite his minor league accomplishments, he only played one year in the majors.

Arlett began his pro career with the Oakland Oaks. From 1919 to 1922, he was 95-71 on the mound for Oakland with a 29-win season in 1921. However, after he began to struggle as a pitcher, he was moved to the outfield. In 1926, he hit .382 with 25 home runs and 140 RBI for the Oaks. After more than a decade in the minors, Arlett's contract was purchased by the Philadelphia Phillies in 1931. In his only big league season, he set a record for slugging (.538), batting average (.313), homers (18) and total bases (225) for a one-year player; he also holds the NL records for doubles (26) and hits (131) by a one-year player. After the season, he was placed on waivers, and he never returned to the bigs.

Back in the minors, Arlett joined the Baltimore Orioles in 1932. That year, he led the International League with 49 homers and twice had four-homer games. One of his long balls that year was knocked out of the park, crashed through the window of a nearby home, and hit a woman on the head. Prior to the 1935 season, Arlett lost part of the ring finger on his left hand in an accident, but he still hit .360 with 25 home runs and 101 RBI for the Minneapolis Millers. He retired as a player after spending 1937 with the Syracuse Chiefs.

Overall, Arlett played 2,390 games in the minors, hitting 432 homers with a .341 average, 2,726 hits, and 1,786 RBI. The 432 homers were a minor league record at the time, later broken by Hector Espino, but remained the record for the U.S.-based minor leagues until Mike Hessman passed him in 2015. He is the all-time leader in home runs in the Pacific Coast League and still ranks second all-time in minor league RBI behind Nick Cullop. As a pitcher, he won 108 games. Despite all of this, he had a poor reputation defensively, which might have been one of the reasons that kept him out of the majors. He is a member of the Pacific Coast League Hall of Fame and in 2009 was elected to the International League Hall of Fame.

Further Reading[edit]

  • Cort Vitty: "Buzz Arlett's Remarkable 1932 Season", in Bob Brown, ed.: Monumental Baseball: The National Pastime in the National Capital Region, The National Pastime, SABR, Number 39, 2009, pp. 70-72.

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