Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Gene Leek for Bob Roselli

The last several posts we've been heading back to the twenties to forties to add a few transactions to the historical record...this time we run back forward to the sixties.

Bob Roselli was a third-string catcher for the Braves and White Sox in the fifties and early sixties. He came up behind Del Crandall with Milwaukee, and behind Sherm Lollar with the White Sox, so despite being an o.k. hitter and decent fielder, there was no playing time to be had there.

Gene Leek was an infielder, mostly at third base, with Cleveland in the fifties and the original Angels in the early 1960's. Never much of a hitter, his bat kept him from a lot of major league action.

Roselli was on the White Sox in 1962, and Leek on the Angels the same year. The NEXT season, Leek shows up at Indianapolis, a White Sox affiliate, and Roselli finishes his career in Hawaii, the Angels' PCL club. No explanation for the moves is given on either player's Baseball-Reference page.

Well, Roselli had been outrighted to Indianapolis, according to the Oct. 16, 1962 Cuero (TX) Record:

“The Chicago White Sox today announced the outright sale of three players to Indianapolis of the American Association to cut the roster to 38 and make room for minor league players to protect them from the draft.

Sold to Indianapolis were catcher Bob Roselli, infielder Bob Sadowski and pitcher Verle Tiefenthaler.”

Roselli didn't ever play for Indy, and was traded even-up for Leek. From the Indianapolis Star of March 30, 1963:

"Gene Leek, 25-year-old infielder who received a $100,000 bonus in 1959 to join the Cleveland baseball organization, will report tomorrow to the Indianapolis Indians' training camp here. Leek was acquired yesterday from the Los Angeles Angels of the American League in a deal that sent Tribe catcher Bob Roselli to Hawaii, the Angels' Pacific Coast League farm outlet."

That explains that!

Roselli didn't hit well in Hawaii and his career ended in 1963. Leek continued to not hit well and  went down to AA during the season. He would pop around on and off in the minors until 1969, never quite getting his bat to come around.


 Roselle form Amazon and Leek from Pinterest.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Two 1938 Dodgers: Fred Sington and Pete Coscarart

The 1938 Brooklyn Dodgers weren't particularly good, finishing 69-80, but they did have some interesting players.

Fred Sington was an outfielder on the team who had a gaudy .358 batting average and a near-.500 on-base percentage in just 68 plate appearances. His major league career started with the Senators in 1934 and ended with the Dodgers in 1939, a short career despite a very respectable .271 lifetime batting average and a near-.400 lifetime OBP mark. His Baseball-Reference page only lists the transactions that sent him from Washington to Brooklyn and an "assignment:" from Brooklyn to the Red Sox. But how did the Senators get him?

The Wilson Daily Times of Sep. 8, 1934 tells us:

"Fred Sington, slugging outfielder of the Albany Senators of the International League, has been sold to Washington of the American League for cash and three players, the club announced yesterday. The amount of cash was not disclosed."

Albany was an independent team at the time. And we find out more about the "assignment" to the Red Sox system from a 1939 post-season article in the Louisville Courier-Journal of Dec. 10, 1939:

"the only thing wrong with Fred Sington's batting last season was his average of .254. Homeliness in batting averages, as in looks, frequently is only skin deep; beneath the unattractive batting mark, as well as beneath the ugly mug, redeeming qualities frequently shine. That's why the Colonels have abandoned intentions of selling Big Fred if they had a chance of recouping all or most of the $10,000 they paid Brooklyn for him last season."

So that was a sale rather than just an "assignment."
Sington finished his career in Louisville in 1940. He was better known as a college football star for Alabama, and according to Wikipedia. had a song written about his football prowess.

Pete Coscarart was just getting his major league career started in 1938, and the useful middle infielder would be traded to Pittsburgh for 1942 and would be out of the majors in early 1946. Quite likely that was due to his support for a baseball player's union at the time.

His Baseball-Reference page doesn't list the deal that sent him from the Pirates out west to independent PCL San Diego, but we found an interesting article from the June 2, 1946 Chicago Tribune:

"The Pittsburgh Pirates today (June 1) announced the sale of Pete Coscarart to San Diego of the Pacific Coast League..."

The article goes on to say that Coscarart was threatening to jump to the Mexican league rather than go to San Diego. The article says that Coscarart thought he could still play in the majors at age 30. Baseball-Reference has him at 33 at the time of the deal.

He DID go to the Padres, and then to Sacramento and Yakima before ending his career.
Sington from Getty Images, Coscarart from www.vintagecardprices.com