Otto Pahlman

From BR Bullpen

Otto Pahlman

  • Bats unknown, Throws unknown

BR Minors page

Biographical Information[edit]

Otto Pahlman was a minor league first baseman who had a fairly obscure career - aprat from one exceptional feat. In August and September of 1922, he had a 50-game hitting streak for the Danville Veterans of the Three-I League. At the time, it was the second-longest streak in minor league history, after the 69-game streak put together by Joe Wilhoit in the Western League in 1919. It has since been passed by Joe DiMaggio, who put together a 61-game streak in the Pacific Coast League in 1933, and by Roman Mejias who hit safely in 55 games in the Big State League in 1954. Pahlman is the only one of the four never to appear in a major league game. In fact, very little personal information about him is known.

The official record has him starting his professional career in 1914 with the Flint Vehicles of the Southern Michigan League, for which he also played in 1915, hitting .250 and .239. In 1916, he was with the Newport News Shipbuilders of the Virginia League and in 1917 with the Springfield Reapers in the Central League, but did little to set himself apart either year, batting .241 and .245. In both 1918 and 1919, he played with two different teams, the Waco Navigators and Shreveport Gassers, both of the Texas League, the first year, and the Regina Senators and Moose Jaw Robin Hoods, both of the Western Canada League, the second. No statistics are available for either season and there is no record of his playing anywhere in 1921.

That leads into the outstanding 1922 season, which he started in the International League, the highest level at which he played, with the Reading Aces, for 56 games during which he hit .268, and then 72 games for Danville in a Class B league, where he exploded for a completely uncharacteristic .371 average boosted by his historic hitting streak. the strek was ended on September 9th. He was brought to Danville by Hall of Famer Joe McGinnity, who had been his teammate in semi-pro ball the year before, and was a pitcher for the Veterans at age 51. One would think such a feat would have opened a lot of doors for Otto, but there is no record of him with a minor league team in the following seasons, until he turned up with the Evansville Hubs, again in the Three-I League, in 1926. He was back to performing at his normal level, batting .257 in 132 games, and then three years later played another full minor league season with the Henderson Bunnies of the Piedmont League, where he batted .291 in 128 games.

His career is unusual both because of its patchiness - it is recorded that he played in the Staley Industrial League in Decatur, IL in 1921 and was likely with other semi-pro teams during the remaining missing years - but also for its geographic diversity. Most players in those days settled in one area of the country, but his career was literally all over the map, with no obvious logic. His magical two months also stand out in a career when he was never more than an average hitter with no other noteworthy achievement. In fact, the few reports there are about him tend to mention his excellent fielding at first base ahead of his hitting. Had his hitting streak occurred after DiMaggio had captured the nation's imagination with both his minor league and major league streaks (the latter of 56 games) and made the term a synonym for consistent excellence, he would likely have garnered a lot more attention and not fallen into complete obscurity as became the case. When he had his streak, it was considered a mere curiosity, and not a major achievement worthy of significant coverage.

In 1932, newspapers reported that he was looking to put together a new six-team league with a team in Henderson, NC, the last locality where he is shown to have played, but the efforts failed, as there has not been a minor league team in the city after 1931. His connection with that town dated back to 1922, when the Reading team held its spring training there. His name did show up again in the papers when Francisco Mejia put together a 50-game hitting streak, tying his mark, in 2016 - but it did not lead to more useful information being uncovered about Pahlman.

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