Monday, January 9, 2012

The Many Moods of Herb Plews

I had this funny feeling Herb was never really comfortable in his own skin.  I didn’t have a lot to base that on – really, just these pictures.  Doing a little research on Google, though, definitely gave me some ideas.

Maybe it was because he was from Montana.  The Nation’s Capital (he broke in with the Nats) might seem a little overwhelming after that.  Pretty easy to feel a little unsure of yourself in the big city.

Perhaps it was starting out with the Class B Quincy Gems.  Or getting hit by a pitch there and getting your skull fractured.  That’d make me a little gun-shy.

Or it could be wearing specs.  Few ballplayers did back then.  And you can tell he was self-conscious about them, as he never wore them for any of his cards.

I do know one of the Washington sports writers compared Herb to “the terribly earnest math teacher who likes to play ball with his students.” (Wikipedia)  Ouch!  That sort of treatment wouldn’t be likely to make me more self-confident.

I’m not sure what it was, but it definitely showed.  Here’s Herb on his years with DC’s lovable losers:

“I was kind of in and out. The Senators, we had a pretty good ballclub, but we just never seemed to get in the winning ways. The way they played it, if you didn’t get any hits and you lost, you probably were on the bench for a while. So that’s the way my career was, in and out.”  (SABR Bio Project)

But here he is on getting out of DC and getting traded to the Red Sox:

“I could never understand that trade. I don’t know why they traded either one of us, but at the time Mike Higgins was the manager of the Red Sox, a fine manager. The Red Sox were kind of in a slump and they were giving Mike a bad time. I no sooner got there than they fired Mike. He was the kind of manager that if he liked you, you had it made. When they fired him, they hired a coach from Washington to manage the Red Sox.”

Hmm …  And here’s Herb on that new manager, Billy Jurges:

“I got along OK with Bill, but he never saw eye to eye with me, more or less. He no sooner came than they sent me out. Of course, at that time, they were putting the pressure on the Red Sox to get a colored ballplayer. They didn’t have any colored ballplayers. So they brought up this boy from Minneapolis, Pumpsie Green, and they sent me out then and that was the end of my major-league career. I never did get back. Jurges … like I say, I didn’t know what he thought of me, but it wasn’t all that important. I couldn’t understand them hiring him.”

Am I detecting a theme here?  A little resentment perhaps?  A small dash of blaming others maybe?  Just a hint of always having fate against you possibly?


Deer in the headlights.


Okay, big smile.  Herb … that’s not a smile.  The corners of your mouth should go up.  C’mon.


That’s a little better.  We still got a ways to go, though, don’t we, huh?

I’ve always liked this card design, by the way.  Pretty simple, but I think that peephole look is very effective.

Little Herby Plews, happy at last.

* - author has this card


  1. Plain and simply you undoubtedly did not know nor ever meet Herb Plews or you would not have entered such an insulting and rather embarrassing for you piece ...

    Herb was a very fine fellow who was popular in every city and with each team he played with ande always had that great smile his entire life ...

    He often did not keep his glasses on for photos due to flash reflection on lenses at tops and edges ...

    Unfortunately, Herb Plews departed the scene at age 86 on Friday 12 December 2014.


  2. Oh, c'mon. I'm sure Herb was a great guy. You have to admit, though - he never really looked terribly comfortable in front of the camera. That's all ...