Solly Hemus

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Solly Hemus
Solly Hemus 1953.jpg
Hemus in about 1953
Shortstop / Second baseman / Manager
Born: (1923-04-17)April 17, 1923
Phoenix, Arizona
Died: October 2, 2017(2017-10-02) (aged 94)
Houston, Texas
Batted: Left Threw: Right
MLB debut
April 27, 1949, for the St. Louis Cardinals
Last MLB appearance
June 14, 1959, for the St. Louis Cardinals
MLB statistics
Batting average.273
Home runs51
Runs batted in263
Managerial record190–192
Winning %.497
Teams
As player
As manager
As coach

Solomon Joseph Hemus (April 17, 1923 – October 2, 2017), was an American professional baseball infielder, manager, and coach, who played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the St. Louis Cardinals and Philadelphia Phillies.[1] Hemus is one of a select group of big league players to have held a dual role as a player-manager.

Baseball career[edit]

As a player (1949–1959) with the St. Louis Cardinals and Philadelphia Phillies, Hemus was primarily a shortstop, although he also saw significant time as a second baseman. Hemus compiled a lifetime batting average of .273 in 961 games and collected 736 hits, with 51 home runs. The Phoenix native batted left-handed and threw right-handed. During his playing days, Hemus stood 5 feet 9 inches (1.75 m) tall, weighing 165 pounds (75 kg).[1]

Hemus was a hard-nosed player and manager known for battling with opponents and umpires; he was ejected 30 times between 1952 and 1965.[2] When he was traded to the Phillies in May 1956, Hemus wrote a letter to Cardinals owner August "Gussie" Busch, expressing his pride in being a Cardinal and his gratitude to the baseball club. Nearing the end of his playing career, he was reacquired by the Cardinals on September 29, 1958 — one day after the 1958 season ended — and named the St. Louis player-manager by Busch, who admired Hemus' fiery personality and remembered his letter from 2½ years before.[3]

As a player in 1959, Hemus appeared in 24 games — mostly as a pinch-hitter — before concentrating on his managerial responsibilities. His Cardinals were inconsistent. Hemus' first club lost 15 of its first 20 games and stumbled to a seventh place (71–83) finish in 1959. That was followed by a 15-game improvement (86–68) and a leap to third place in his second season (1960).[1] The Redbirds followed with a mediocre start in 1961 and were mired in sixth place on July 5 (at 33–41), when Hemus was replaced by one of his coaches, Johnny Keane.[4] His career managing record was 190–192 (.497).[1] He was thrown out of 11 of the 382 games he managed, comprising over one-third of his career MLB ejections.[2]

Hemus then served as a coach with the New York Mets (1962–1963) and Cleveland Indians (1964–1965). He was on manager Casey Stengel's coaching staff when the 1962 Mets expansion team ended up with a record of 40–120, still the most losses by a Major League team in a single season since the nineteenth century.[5][6][7][8] He managed the Mets' top farm club, the Jacksonville Suns of the Triple-A International League,[9] in 1966, before leaving baseball and entering the oil business in his adopted home city of Houston, Texas.[10]

During his tenure in Philadelphia, Hemus made history when he was removed for pinch runner John Kennedy at Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City, New Jersey, during a league game against the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 22, 1957. It marked the Major League debut of Kennedy, the first African-American player in the Phillies' history.[11][12] In 2011, Hall-of-Famer Bob Gibson indicated that racial prejudice on Hemus' part had intruded on his later role as the Cards' manager when Hemus disparaged both Gibson and teammate Curt Flood by telling them they were not good enough to make it as Major Leaguers and should try something else.[13][14] Hemus' replacement, Keane, was a Gibson supporter who had managed the pitcher in the minor leagues.[15]

Death[edit]

Hemus died at 94 following a long illness in Houston, on October 2, 2017.[13]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d "Solly Hemus Stats". Baseball-Reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. 2019. Retrieved June 5, 2019.
  2. ^ a b Retrosheet
  3. ^ "Solly Hemus Given Raise in 1961 St. Louis Contract". The Spokesman-Review. Associated Press. September 23, 1960. p. 26. Retrieved August 28, 2011.
  4. ^ 1961 St. Louis Cardinals Schedule, Box Scores and Splits at Baseball-Reference.com
  5. ^ Sheehan, Joe (October 3, 1961). "Mets Appoint Lavagetto and Hemus Coaches as Stengel Returns". The New York Times. p. 48.
  6. ^ "Mets Bank On Return Of Stengel". Hartford Courant. Associated Press. October 11, 1963. p. 21.
  7. ^ Loomis, Tom (April 6, 1964). "Hot Seat Won't Burn Strickland". Toledo Blade. p. 19. Retrieved August 31, 2011.
  8. ^ "Dick Sisler Gets Post With Cards". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Associated Press. October 20, 1965. p. 26. Retrieved August 31, 2011.
  9. ^ "Former Mets Named to New Jobs". The New York Times. Associated Press. January 4, 1966.
  10. ^ Anderson, Dave (March 28, 1982). "World of baseball hasn't forgotten Ken Boyer". St. Petersburg Times. p. 4C.
  11. ^ "Phillies Find New Shortstop". Star-News. Associated Press. 26 March 1957. p. 1.
  12. ^ Brooklyn Dodgers 5, Philadelphia Phillies 1 Retrosheet Boxscore and Play-by-Play for April 22, 1957
  13. ^ a b "Solly Hemus, last Cardinals player-manager, dies at 94". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. October 3, 2017.
  14. ^ "HBO: The Curious Case of Curt Flood". Home Box Office, Inc. Archived from the original on 2 September 2011. Retrieved 1 October 2011.
  15. ^ Gibson, Bob; Wheeler, Lonnie (1994). Stranger to the Game. New York: Viking. p. 65. ISBN 978-0-670-84794-5.

External links[edit]


Preceded by
Franchise created
New York Mets third-base coach
1962–1963
Succeeded by
Don Heffner
Preceded by
George Strickland
Cleveland Indians third-base coach
1964
Succeeded by
George Strickland
Preceded by
Elmer Valo
Cleveland Indians first-base coach
1965
Succeeded by
Reggie Otero
Preceded by
Grover Resinger
Jacksonville Suns manager
1966
Succeeded by
Bill Virdon