Monday, October 31, 2011

Phils, Red Sox, Cardinals: Lend Me Your Ears (‘50s Version)

My son Conor (age 14) is a pretty good ballplayer.  He’s also very conscious about his ears, poor guy.  They’re actually not that bad, but they definitely stick out.  My wife and I always try to downplay the topic whenever it comes up.

Maybe I could point him to all the famous people and celebrities over the years who’ve had big ones too: Obama, Prince Charles, Abraham Lincoln, Gandhi, Clark Gable, Dumbo …  Probably what would be most meaningful to him, though, would be to show him some major leaguers who suffer from the same “ailment” (like me, he’s got that baseball gene).

So here they are, Conor, some real live major leaguers with ears much worse than yours …


Now, these aren’t that bad.  Actually, they’re not big so much as they’re just not where they’re supposed to be. 

I think, though, I really just liked the name.  I mean, how many Romans do you know?  Okay, Gabriel, Polanski …  Um … Er …  Did I say Polanski?  I know!  Semproch!  Yeah, Roman Semproch! 

Interestingly, this was the only year Roman was Roman.  For his other cards, he suddenly became Ray. 

Even more interestingly, Ray/Roman, had a second nickname, “Baby.”  If you can find a card out there with “Baby Semproch” on it, it’s probably a misprint and worth millions.

Here we are again.  Shouldn’t you move those things a little higher up your head?

Bob Oldis was up for seven seasons, with four different teams (including the World Champion Pirates in 1960).  A true backup catcher, he managed only 236 at bats (and one homer) during that time. 

He's not a real looker either, is he?

Like I said …  Ears don’t go there.  Please take them and place them a couple of inches higher.  Thank you.

You probably remember this guy as a manager.  In fact, Bill Rigney managed 18 years, with the Giants, Angels, and Twins.  He also played eight seasons with the Giants, four as a starter. 

Nicknames include “Specs” and “Cricket.”  Wait a minute.  Wasn’t Cricket who Ken dumped Barbie for?

Okay, this is more like it.  Real, honest-to-goodness jug handles.  And see where they start (and then keep going and going)?  Much better.

Ewell Blackwell is a pretty cool name too.  Plus, his nickname was “Whip.”  Though that’s not all that surprising when you combine being 6’6” and 195 pounds with a sidearm delivery

Pretty good player, with one incredible year.  In 1947, he led the league in wins and strikeouts and came in second in MVP voting.  He also pitched a no-hitter and took another one into the 9th on his next start.

Now, these don’t stick out quite as much as Ewell’s, but they do seem to cover the whole length of his face.

Everett Kell, known as “Skeeter,” was Hall of Famer George Kell’s brother.  He was only up one year.

After his playing days were over, this Eddie Munster look-alike started a successful sporting goods business.  In fact, if you Google “Skeeter Kell,” three of the first five hits are for his business.

Les is a fairly good-looking guy, but those ears (highlighted by the glowing nimbus behind him) are just too much.

Les Moss was a catcher, mostly back-up, for 13 big-league seasons.  His main claim to fame was catching a no-hitter, by Bobo Newsom.  He also did a little managing, finishing with a 39-50 record.

More of the same, south of the border. 

Hmm, looks like there are a couple of Ruben Gomezes out there.  Wikipedia’s got a baseball player, football player, musician, and cyclist.

Our Ruben was arguably the first real baseball hero in Puerto Rico.  There, he was known as “El Divino Loco,” the Divine Madman.  ¡Asombroso!


Rudy Arias was from Cuba, and was only up in the bigs one year.  The White Sox did, however, manage to make it to the Series that year.  Unfortunately, Rudy didn’t see any action – though he did have a pretty good view, as well as receive a nice little check, for just spectating.

Hey, we’ve got a couple of things going on here.  Big ears, toothy smile, goofy look …

Mel Parnell was one of those rare things, a successful left-handed starter with the Red Sox.  He pitched a no-hitter for them and won 20 twice.  It was pretty much all over after ’53, though.  After tearing a muscle in his arm, he went from 21 wins to 3, and was never again in double digits.

And let’s not forget … Parnell was actually the one who came up with the term “Pesky’s Pole.” 

* - author has this card

Next week's edition features a special look at 1956, a year in which ears were especially humongous. Find out why! And here are some from the '60s and '70s as well.

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