Nine Old Men

From BR Bullpen

The Nine Old Men refers to the 1948 Oakland Oaks baseball team that won the PCL championship. It was originally a term used to describe the nine justices of the United States Supreme Court, and also a term used to refer to the animation team assembled by Walt Disney.

The manager of the team was Casey Stengel, who had previously managed unsuccessfully in the National League. He was named minor league manager of the year for his work in 1948. After his famous stint with the Oaks that year, he was named to manage the New York Yankees in 1949, and won five straight pennants with them.

A baseball team puts nine players on the field, but of course it is not the same nine each day, especially since the pitcher changes. Because of the aged nature of the team, the term Nine Old Men referred to the players on the field at any time, although one of them was usually a young kid that (as one writer put it) was forced on Stengel - 2B Billy Martin (.277/.310/.379).

The most famous of the players were C Ernie Lombardi (.277/.336/.446), urged out of retirement after his last major league season in 1947 to split catching with Billy Raimondi (.285/.359/.348, 14 SB), 1B Nick Etten (.313/.407/.587, 43 HR, 115 R, 155 RBI), OF Catfish Metkovich (.336/.418/.548, 23 HR, 116 R) and 3B Cookie Lavagetto (.304/.368/.399). Etten was the biggest statistical star, finishing second in the league in RBI to Gus Zernial, homers to Jack Graham and slugging to Gene Woodling.

Even apart from Martin, the term Nine Old Men is somewhat misleading, because Metkovich was only 27 at the time. Some other stars on the team, such as Will Hafey (13-10, 4.48), were young. However, Stengel preferred older players, and a lot of the regulars and bench were in their late 20's or in their 30's. The median age of the team was 33, and Casey did a lot of platooning.

Other 1948 Oaks included OF Maurice Van Robays (.313/.362/.422), OF-1B Les Scarsella (.271/.341/.468) and 3B-2B Dario Lodigiani (.303/.360/.396). Bob Klinger (2-4, 3 Sv, 4.23), like Lombardi, was 40 years old at the time. The full list of players may be found at the references below.

Seven pitchers won 10 or more games, led by Charlie Gassaway (15-8, 2 Sv, 3.08).

Sources: Casey at the Oaks, Forging Genius: The Making of Casey Stengel, and The San Francisco Seals, 1946-57. See also Oakland Oaks