Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Joe Adcock - Slugger Extrordinaire

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TRIVIA QUESTION: In 1967, the year after Joe Adock retired as a player, the Angels traded for their new first baseman; Don Mincher. It also ended the Angels career of another player, the player with whom Adcock shared first base. Who was that left handed hitting first baseman ?  

ANSWER TO TRIVIA QUESTION IN THE PREVIOUS COLUMN: In 1968 Don Drysdale set a new scoreless innings streak of more than 58 consecutive innings. When the streak finally came to an end Dodger announcer Vin Scully told his audience "of all the people who had the chance to end this streak, the great players, Roberto Clemente, Willie Mays and Henry Aaron, it finally comes to an end with Howie Bedell." Bedell, playing in his second and final major league season came to bat as a pinch-hitter for the Phillies and hit a sacrifice fly to drive in the streak ending run. It was his ONLY RBI in seven at bats in 1968. 

 While Joe Adcock arguably had his best games in the 1950's, it was a career which carried into the 1960's which led the slugging National Leaguer into true respectability. In the 50's he had a four-homer game, he got the hit (read here a home run turned into a double) which destroyed Harvey Haddix's 13 inning perfect game and he smashed the longest home run to date in the Polo Grounds. He also hit a career high 38 dingers in 1956. However, one can conclude it was the 1960's which really capped his career rather than sending him off to obscurity.
Playing for the Milwaukee Braves for most of the decade before playing a single season in Cleveland and finishing up the final three years of his career with the Angels, Adcock was mostly a platooned first baseman at this point. He had his share of injuries but with the Braves he had to compete with some pretty good first sackers, too. 
A vocal and aggressive guy who crowded the plate, Adcock was a dead pull hitter. Along with the Polo Grounds homer, he hit other tape measure shots including blasts at Connie Mack Stadium and Ebbetts Field.
                                                                   (The Polo Grounds)
While in 1960-61 he was the first baseman, starting in 1962 the Braves began using other players more often at the position. Tommy Aaron, Eddie Mathews, and finally in 1963 the club sent Big Joe to Cleveland to make way for Gene Oliver. It was a trade where the only real name player was Adcock. A year later he was dealt by the Tribe to the Angels. 
He started the 1960's at age 32 when most players were beginning their retirement run. Not Adcock. He was just getting his second wind. from 1960-1962 he hit 25, 35 and 29 home runs. While his average fell from .298, .285 and finally .248, he drove in 277 runs over the span. Over the final four years he still hit 66 homers while serving in strictly a platoon role, batting about 1200 times.

In his final season with the Angels before being released into retirement, at age 38, he still managed to bat .273, and hit 18 home runs in 83 games. Of his 63 hits, 31 went for extra bases. And perhaps the most amazing stat of all when it comes to the big slugger; in 17 seasons and 1959 games, he NEVER Struck out 100 or more times in a single season. Despite all of that, 336 home runs and a lifetime BA of .277, he only made the all-star team once; 1960. 

He would return to the Indians for one season in 1967 as the manager. His club finished in eighth place at 75-87 and the fiery Adcock was ejected on three separate occasions.  It marked the end of his professional baseball career. He died in 1999 at age 71.

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  1. One note; For most of the Expansion Senators tenure in Washington their stadium was known as "DC Stadium." It wasn't until after the assassination Of Senator Robert Kennedy in 1968 that it was renamed RFK Stadium.

  2. You are correct and it's been updated. Good eye.