Jim Small

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James Arthur Patrick Small

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Biographical Information[edit]

Eighteen-year-old outfielder Jim Small signed a $35,000 bonus contract with the Detroit Tigers right out of high school in San Jose, CA. Because of the then-current two-year bonus rule, the young left-handed hitter remained on the Tigers roster for the 1955 and 1956 seasons.

"I look back now and I was just a flat out baby. I got out of high school, and three days later I'm in Detroit, and two days after that I'm in New York. I wasn't allowed to stay out after nine o'clock at home, and all of a sudden I'm tipping porters to carry my suitcase." - Jim Small in Baseball's Biggest Blunder: The Bonus Rule of 1953-1957.

Jim picked up his first base hit off future Hall of Famer Bob Lemon and showed considerable promise, hitting .319 in 58 games in 1956. But his average fell to .214 in 36 games in 1957. He was traded to the Kansas City Athletics, appearing in two final games for that team in 1958. He finished his major league time there at age 21, hitting .270 in 108 games.

Small did not fold up his tent and ride off into the sunset. After the two-year bonus baby contract was fulfilled in 1957, he spent 36 games with the Charleston Senators of the American Association, hitting .321 in 134 plate appearances. Jim spent the next five seasons (1958-1962) with several different minor league clubs with just average success, and also logged over 100 innings as a pitcher. He saved his best year in baseball, 1962, for his last, playing for the Albuquerque Dukes of the Texas League. Jim appeared in 127 games, had 544 at-bats and hit for a .317 average with 13 home runs. Small was then stricken with rheumatic fever after the season. At the age of 25, he called it a career, ending his six-year minor-league career after appearing in 587 games and hitting for a .280 batting average with a terrific OBP of 41 percent.

After baseball, Small resided in Stanwood, MI (living near former Tigers teammates Ray Herbert and the late Billy Hoeft), where he was with the Canadian Lakes Real Estate development company. He has been the host for the Detroit Tigers annual alumni golf tournament at Canadian Lakes.


Baseball Players of the 1950s

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