Friday, September 4, 2015

Gene Bearden: A Knuckler in a Whirlwind

Gene Bearden is best known for his great performance for the World Champion Cleveland club in 1948, going 20-7 as a rookie pitcher and beating the Red Sox in a playoff, then winning and saving one in the World Series.

His career didn't finish with such a flourish in the majors, and he went from the Indians to the Senators, Tigers, Browns, and finally, the White Sox in 1953. His Baseball Reference page lists the move from the Browns to the Sox as:

March 18, 1953: Selected off waivers by the Chicago White Sox from the St. Louis Browns.

But the Daily Independent Journal of Feb. 10, 1953 has something a little different:

"Veteran Pitcher Gene Bearden was sold Wednesday (Feb. 9) by the St. Louis Browns to the Chicago White Sox for an undisclosed amount in excess of the waiver price."

 Bearden was pretty effective for the ChiSox, but evidently not effective enough, as he was traded to the PCL. 

"Gene Bearden, former Cleveland Indian pitcher, Saturday was acquired by the Seattle Rainiers of the Coast League in a deal that sent shortstop Alex Garbowski and pitcher Art Del Duca to Charleston of the American Assn.”

Charleston was the White Sox AAA team in 1954. Seattle was independent.

Bearden was sent away with many other Seattle players right before the 1955 season as Manager Fred Hutchinson decided to clean house. The book "The San Francisco Seals, 1946-1957: Interviews with 25Former Baseballers" by Brent P. Kelley spells out the process, but doesn't give out the exact details of how Bearden got to San Francisco, another independent PCL club at the time.

Bearden then became property of the Red Sox, when the BoSox bought the San Francisco ballclub. From the Nashua Telegraph of Nov. 29, 1955:

"In addition to the franchise, the Red Sox acquired the contracts of 19 players, including veterans like Gene Bearden, Wally Judnich and Bill Serena….who have had a whirl in the majors."

 He didn't stay in the Red Sox system for long, as the Braves bought his contract...from the Milwaukee Journal of Feb. 28, 1956:

“Just 10 days ago the Braves bought him conditionally for their Wichita farm club with the promise that he would be transferred to the varsity if his showing warranted.”

The article has many quotes form Bearden as to how he had matured as a person, and from Braves management saying he had a good chance of sticking with the club out of spring training. He didn't.

"Former San Francisco Seals pitcher Gene Bearden, who has been working out here with the Milwaukee Braves, has been released by the major league club and assigned to Sacramento of the Pacific Coast League."

Other articles have him assigned by the Braves there, though Sacramento was independent at the time. Bearden stayed the full season there, then requested a trade in the off-season. He recanted that later, but was dealt partway into the 1957 season to Minneapolis in the Giants' organization.

 "Sacramento announced the acquisition of outfielder Edward Perry White from Minneapolis of the American Assn., in exchange for outfielder Jackie Tobin, veteran pitcher Gene Bearden and an undisclosed amount of cash."

 Bearden would end his career in Minneapolis.

Whew! What a whirlwind! And so many players that had been in the majors.

If you can add to this list, or any other entry to the blog, feel free to do so!

Bearden pic lifted from


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