Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Al Benton: Clearing Up A Few Deals

Sorry we have been out for awhile, health and work issues got in the way.

Al Benton was a solid major league pitcher from 1934 to 1952, was an All-Star a couple of seasons, received some MVP votes a few times, and had three scoreless appearances for the Tigers in the 1945 World Series.

His Baseball Reference page mentions a few deals in his career, but I think we have uncovered a few more, and some possible corrections.

Looking these up, that doesn't seem quite right.  The April 20, 1949 Newark Advocate has this:

"Indians Buy Benton CLEVELAND. April 20---- The Cleveland Indians last night announced the purchase of Alton Benton. right hand pitcher from Sacramento of the Pacific Coast League. The purchase price was not announced. Fred Marsh, a reserve infielder. was optioned to Sacramento as part of the deal."

Now, Sacramento was an independent club at the time, not a Tiger affiliate. His clean break from the Tigers is reaffirmed by this from the Aug. 17, 1949 Decatur Herald, about a Benton game against the Tigers...

"It was Benton's first start against the Tigers, who released him unconditionally last fall."

So it looks like he wasn't re-signed by Detroit at all.

Benton was back in AAA in 1951, sold to Sacramento. He goes to San Diego here:

"At the same time, it was learned that the A’s had failed in their bid for Al Benton, former star relief pitcher of the Detroit Tigers. The big veteran, released earlier this week by Sacramento, has caught on with San Diego and pitching in relief for the Padres last night."

The A's in the article were the Victoria A's, and the item is from the well done WIL Baseball-1951 Blog by WIL FAN. Check it out please.

Baseball Reference has this for his return to the majors in 1952:

June 27, 1952: Purchased by the Boston Red Sox from San Diego (PCL). 

But an interview with former major league pitcher Harley Hisner in the great Baseball Happenings blog....(thanks to N. Diunte!)

“In 1952, they were making a relief pitcher out of me,” he said. “In the first week in July, Boston needed a relief pitcher. San Diego had one. Boston always had a verbal agreement with them. They traded me and Al Richter to San Diego for Al Benton.”

That is quite different than a straight sale. Benton did well at age 41 with Boston, but went to San Diego to finish his career the next year. From the San Mateo Times of  Jan, 9, 1953:

"PADRES GET BENTON BOSTON (TP) -- Veteran relief pitcher Al Benton's contract was assigned at his own request to San Diego, in the Pacific Coast league, the Boston Red Sox announced today."

A long, solid career for Benton.

Image from www.tradingcarddb.com

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