Sunday, November 26, 2023

First in the Bahamas and Elsewhere Around the Infield


TRIVIA WINNER: Wes Covington was traded three times in his career and Don Larsen was the most famous player he was traded for and who despite his fame, was under .500 lifetime as a pitcher.  Dennis Cimpl of Wauwatosa, WI had the correct answer. The Prize: Starbucks Gift Card.

TRIVIA CONTEST:  By answering the TRIVIA QUESTION CORRECTLY you are automatically entered into a weekly drawing for a Starbucks Gift Card.  YOU MUST ENTER VIA THE EMAIL AT THE END OF THIS COLUMN. Please put your mailing address in with the answer so if you win we can send you the gift card in the mail.

NEW TRIVIA QUESTION: Among the players Rodgers was traded for became a manager. Name him.

It's not often a journeyman player makes a huge impact, but such is the case of shortstop Andre Rodgers. Rogers was born, raised and died in the Bahamas. Nassau was home and his final resting place. As the first Bahamian player to go to the big leagues he had to overcome being a great Cricket player. He did. 

His acceptance into the majors started kids playing baseball in the Bahamas and it paved the way for players such as Ed Armbrister among others to go north. Baseball became more popular than Cricket because of Rodgers. Rodgers big league career began in 1957 when he played in New York with the Giants and traveled with them to San Francisco.

By 1961 he'd played out his time with the Giants and the Cubs needed a shortstop with Ernie Banks moving to first. However, not before Rodgers made a non-playing stop in Milwaukee. On Halloween, 1960 the Giants sent him to Milwaukee but before the season started in 1961, he was shipped to the Cubs in a four player deal which brought Moe Drabowsky to the Braves.

Rodgers best had been .250 in a part time role. In 1962 he became the Cubbies starter at Short and immediately performed. He had his best season at the plate, hitting .278 in over 400 at bats. In 138 games he also hit eight triples.

The following season he fell off drastically with more playing time, hitting .229 in 150 games but also teamed with Ken Hubbs at second to set the league doubleplay record for the time. He rebounded a bit in 1964 raising his average to .239, cranking out 12 home runs which doubled his previous high. It would be his high water mark.

With Don Kessinger waiting in the wings and ready for prime time, the Cubs dealt their 30 year old shortstop to Pittsburgh for Roberto Pena. The Bucs would need to shore up the infield due to an injury to Bill Mazeroski. Gene Alley was blossoming at short but played second in Maz's absence, opening the door for Rodgers to fill in at his natural position. Bob Baily was locked in at third when he wasn't playing the outfield. Rodgers played one game at second, and ended up filling in around the horn.

On the year he played in 75 games and has his best average over all at .287. He would help the Bucs compete for the pennant in 1965 and in 1966 before calling it a career after 1967. His 11-year career BA was .249.  He went on to play one year in Japan in 1969.

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I've written more than a dozen books including at least two sports books. You can find these at my Amazon page or at my own website Please take a look at the sports books, the western novel series or the "Tattoo Murder," which is a crime book set in Ventura, CA.

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