Johnny Lindell

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John Harlan Lindell

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Biographical Information[edit]

Johnny Lindell was a pitcher turned outfielder turned pitcher for 18 years (1936-1953), 12 in the Major Leagues (1941-1950 and 1953-1954) and ten in the minors (1936-1941 and 1950-1952), losing half a season to the military.

Lindell was born on August 30, 1916, in Greeley, CO. He attended the University of Southern California (USC) for six months. He was signed by the New York Yankees as an amateur free agent in 1936 by scout Bill Essick for a bonus of $150. He married Esther Kent on June 12, 1938. He was 24 years old when he broke into the big leagues with the Yankees on April 18, 1941. He entered the U.S. Army on June 8, 1945 and was discharged on March 22, 1946. He played his last game in the major leagues on May 9, 1954 at age 37 for the Philadelphia Phillies.

Lindell made the transition from a pitcher to an outfielder in the major leagues, then battled back to the majors again as a pitcher near the end of his career. After signing with the Yankees while at USC, he posted outstanding minor league pitching marks, including 23-4 with the Newark Bears in 1941, being named Minor League Player of the Year by The Sporting News that season. He made a single early-season appearance in the Bronx that season, then was called up to the majors to stay in 1942, spending the entire year on the Yankees' staff. He threw a knuckleball and curve, but Yankee manager Joe McCarthy did not believe he had a major league fastball and switched him to the outfield in 1943. He had always been a good hitter; in fact, his major league debut in 1941 had come as a pinch-hitter and not as a pitcher. In his best season, 1944, he hit .300 with 18 home runs and 103 RBI. After World War II ended, he was used mostly as a reserve. All told, he played on three pennant winners, in 1943, 1947 and 1949.

Sold to the St. Louis Cardinals in May of 1950, he managed only a .186 batting average. At the end of the season, he was sold again, this time to the Hollywood Stars of the Pacific Coast League, where manager Fred Haney put him back on the pitching mound. In 1952 he posted a 24-9 pitching record, batted fourth, and occasionally played the outfield. He was easily the league MVP. At age 36 he returned to the majors, pitching for the Pittsburgh Pirates and Philadelphia Phillies in 1953 for a combined 6-17 mark. No one since has gone longer (1942-1953) between wins in the majors. He had trouble putting his knuckleball over (his 139 bases on balls led the National League) and hitters sat on his fastball. (BC)

He played for the Joplin Miners in the Western Association (1936); the Binghamton Triplets in the New York-Pennsylvania League (1937); the Newark Bears in the International League (1938); the Oakland Oaks in the PCL (1938), the Kansas City Blues in the American Association (1939-1940); Newark again in 1941; the New York Yankees (1941-1950); the St. Louis Cardinals (1950); the Columbus Red Birds in the American Association (1950); the Hollywood Stars in the PCL (1950-1952); the Pittsburgh Pirates (1953) and the Philadelphia Phillies (1953-1954)

His hobbies were hunting, fishing and golf. He died three days short of his 70th birthday from lung cancer in Hoag Memorial Hospital in Newport Beach, CA and was cremated. He was survived by his wife, Esther, and two children.

Notable Achievements[edit]

Career Highlights[edit]

  • Tied for lead in most wins in the American Association, 1940 (18)
  • Led International League in Winning Percentage (.852) and Earned Run Average (2.05), 1941
  • Led American League in extra-base hits, 1944 (67)
  • Led National League in walks allowed, 1953 (139)
  • Led National League in wild pitches, 1953 (11)
  • Led Pacific Coast League in Wins (24), Winning Percentage (.724), strikeouts (190) and walks (108), 1952


Records Held[edit]

  • Tied MLB record by hitting four doubles in a game, August 17, 1944
  • Tied with Pepper Martin for highest batting average in a seven-game World Series, 1947 (.500) although he played in only six games due to a broken rib


Principal sources for Johnny Lindell include newspaper obituaries (OB), government records (VA,CM,CW), Sporting Life (SL), Baseball Digest, The Sporting News (TSN), The Sports Encyclopedia:Baseball 2006 by David Neft & Richard Cohen (N&C), old Who's Who in Baseballs (1944-1950) (WW), old Baseball Registers (44-50;1953) (BR), TSN's Daguerreotypes (none) (DAG), The Historical Register, The Baseball Necrology by Bill Lee (BN), Pat Doyle's Professional Ballplayer DataBase(PD), The Baseball Library (BL); various Encyclopediae including The Official Encyclopedia of Baseball by Turkin & Thompson (T&T), MacMillan Baseball Encyclopedia (Mac), Total Baseball (TB), The Bill James Historical Abstract (BJ) and The Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball (LJ); Retrosheet (RS), The Baseball Chronology (BC), Baseball Page (BP), The Baseball Almanac (BA), Baseball Cube (B3) and obituaries at (DBE) as well as research by Reed Howard (RH), Pat Doyle (PD) and Frank Hamilton (FH).

Related Sites[edit]