Emil Matthew Verban
(Dutch or Antelope)
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 11", Weight 165 lb.
- Debut April 18, 1944
- Final Game October 1, 1950
- Born August 27, 1915 in Lincoln, IL USA
- Died June 8, 1989 in Quincy, IL USA
Infielder Emil Verban was signed as an amateur free agent by the Cincinnati Reds before the 1936 season, spending his first season in pro baseball with three different class D teams, appearing in 70 games and hitting at a .282 average. Emil was to spend eight seasons (1936-1943) in the minors before getting a chance at the major league level. In his run to the majors, Emil hit over .300 twice - the first coming in 1937 when he hit .330 for the Tiffin Mud Hens of the Ohio State League and the second in 1942 when he carried a .303 average for the Houston Buffaloes of the Texas League in 134 games.
Before the 1938 season, the Reds had sent Emil to the St. Louis Cardinals. In 1944, he arrived at Sportsman's Park under the Cardinals colors. He held down the second base position for 146 games for the National League Pennant Winners, hitting .257 in 538 plate appearances. Verban was the batting hero of the 1944 Trolley Series, played between the Cardinals and the St. Louis Browns. He went 7 for 17 (.412), all singles, including a 3-for-3 effort in the deciding sixth game, when he drove home the winning run for the Redbirds.
Instead of gloating about his heroics in the Series, he talked about a gnawing situation he had with the club. "I had an unusual experience in that Series. My wife was pregnant at the time, and her seat was behind a post in the old Sportsman's Park. I went up to see the owner of the club and requested a better seat for Mama. At the time the Browns were leading the Series two games to one. He said, 'For all the good you're doing, you ought to be behind the post.' I didn't say anything. When the last putout was made in the final game and we won, I went over to him and looked him right in the eye and said, 'Now you can sit behind the post you meathead."
A three-time All-Star, he hit a career high .289 in 1949 and also hit his only big league home run off Johnny Vander Meer of the Reds that year. Emil spent seven seasons in the major leagues, spending time with the Cardinals (1944-1946), the Philadelphia Phillies (1946-1948) and concluding his big league time with the Chicago Cubs (1948-1950) and Boston Braves (4 games in 1950). He hit for a career .272 average in 853 games and fielded his second base position at a .970 clip, making 123 errors in 4,296 chances. Emil also had ten seasons in the minors, hitting for a career .276 average and appearing in 1,232 games.
The "Emil Verban Memorial Society" was formed in 1975, 14 years before the death of the second baseman who played for the Chicago Cubs in the late 1940s. A group of ardent Cubs fans in Washington, DC, headed by Motorola lobbyist Bruce Ladd, formed the club, taking the name of the team's second baseman in 1948 and 1949, because he was the epitome of the average Cub player, competent but obscure, and he typified the work ethic. At first, Emil thought he was being ridiculed but his feelings changed down the road. Former President Ronald Reagan, political writer George Will and supreme Court Justices Harry A. Blackmun and John Paul Stevens were all members.