Saturday, November 14, 2009

#490 Earl Battey

#490 Earl Battey
You'd be hard pressed to find a baseball player with a more fitting name that Earl Battey. It's certainly more encouraging than unfortunately-named pitchers like Julio Manon and Grant Balfour.

Fun facts about Earl Battey:

-Born in Los Angeles, CA, Earl signed with the White Sox fresh out of high school in 1953.

-He debuted with Chicago in 1955, but played sparingly for five seasons as a backup to catcher Sherm Lollar.

-A blockbuster trade in 1960 sent Battey, rookie slugger Don Mincher, and $150,000 to the Senators in exchange for All-Star outfielder Roy Sievers.

-He thrived in his only season in Washington, winning the first of three straight Gold Gloves and hitting .270 with 15 home runs, 60 RBI, and a career-high 24 doubles. He was known for his strong throwing arm, and would pick 13 runners off of the bases in 1963.

-Following the club's move to Minnesota, Earl became a fan favorite, hitting .302 with 17 home runs in his first year representing the Twin Cities.

-Beginning in 1962, he was selected as an All-Star four out of five seasons. His performance peaked in 1963 with a .285 average, 26 home runs, and 84 RBI.

-In 1965, with Minnesota hosting the All-Star Game, Battey received the most votes of any American League player for the Midsummer Classic.

-He started all seven games of the World Series that fall, but was hampered by an accident in Game Three. He ran into a crossbar while chasing a foul popup and injured his throat to the extent that he had trouble turning his head or speaking. Naturally, he struggled against Dodgers pitching, hitting safely three times in 25 at-bats (.120).

-Earl declined suddenly, hitting .165 in 48 games in 1967 and receiving his release from the Twins that November at age 32. For his career, he hit .270 in parts of 13 seasons with 104 home runs and 449 RBI. In 2000, he was honored as the catcher on the Twins' 40th-anniversary team.

-After his playing career ended, he mentored troubled young boys in New York City before honoring a promise to his mother and earning a college degree (summa cum laude) from Bethune Cookman University in Florida. After graduating, he coached baseball and taught high school. In 2003, he succumbed to cancer at age 68.
#490 Earl Battey (back)


  1. He was the first najor leaguer to wear the now mandatory ear flap on his batting hemet.

  2. Battey was quite the athlete. He considered signing with the Harlem Globetrotters before choosing baseball.

  3. Here's a photo of Earl wearing one of the "new" ear flaps:

  4. the comment on back of card..."wears little league head protector" seems rather comical in todays sports world

  5. I always felt bad for Bob Walk myself.

  6. Thanks for the extra info, guys! I didn't quite find the room to squeeze in the factoid about his batting helmet. When you break your cheek twice, I guess you take measures to avoid a third time.

    Max - Me too. But I felt sorry for him because of that wispy mustache.