Don Padgett

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Don Wilson Padgett

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Biographical Information[edit]

Don Padgett played almost equal numbers of games at catcher and in the outfield in an eight-year major league career from 1937-48, missing some time for World War II.

Born in North Carolina, he went to college in 1932-34 at Lenoir-Rhyne College in North Carolina.

The bulk of his major league career was from 1937-41 with the St. Louis Cardinals. As a 25-year-old rookie right fielder in 1937, he hit .314, playing with Joe Medwick in the Cardinals outfield. Although Medwick had been in the majors for several years at that point, the two of them were the same age. Padgett's 10 home runs and 74 RBI were third best on the team.

In 1938 Padgett gradually lost his right-field job to a young rookie named Enos Slaughter. Slaughter continued to hold the job in 1939, while Padgett hit .399 in 233 at-bats and played mostly catcher. No National League player with at least 200 at-bats in a season has since matched Padgett's .399 mark, and Ted Williams, with his .406 average two years later in 1941, is the only major leaguer who has bested it. Padgett's Adjusted OPS in 1939 was 160, which would have put him # 3 in the league if he had had enough at-bats. His teammate Johnny Mize was # 1 that year.

The 1939 St. Louis Cardinals finished 2nd in the league that year and had the strongest offense, with Padgett hitting .399, Mize hitting .349, Medwick hitting .332, Slaughter hitting .320, and Pepper Martin hitting .306.

After being a catcher again in 1940, Padgett went back to the outfield in 1941. He played more games in left field than any other Cardinals player, but was sold after the season to the Brooklyn Dodgers, probably because a young kid named Stan Musial had come up in 1941 and was to become the starting left-fielder for the Cardinals in 1942.

Padgett entered the Navy in April 1942 and was discharged in October 1945, missing four full seasons. When he came back to the majors after World War II, he played exclusively at catcher in 1946-48. As a 34-year-old backup catcher in 1947, Padgett hit .316.

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