Saturday, February 2, 2008

Indians Uniform Number - 4 (Part 2 of 3)

Today, I (FINALLY!) present Part 2 of the players who sported uniform #4 during their Indians career:

Jack Conway - 3 seasons (1941, '46-'47) - Like many other players of the time, Conway joined the service and then returned home to play ball. In '41, he played in two games and batted twice. He managed a hit and an RBI, netting him a .500 for his very brief appearance in the bigs. In 1946, he returned to bat in 68 games. In 258 appearances at the plate, he ended the season with a .225 average (58 hits, 24 runs, 6 doubles, 2 triples, and 18 RBIs). The next year, he only managed a .180 in 34 games.

Jeff Heath - 10 seasons (1936-1944) - Heath posted better than .300 seasons in half his years as a Triber and three seasons with .270+ averages. In his first two seasons, he only batted in 32 games total (102 at-bats - 14 runs, 28 hits, 4 doubles, 7 triples, 1 homer and 16 RBIs with 13 strike outs). He played in both the 1941 and 1943 All-Star games, though he didn't get any hits in those games. He was also chosen for the 1945 All-Star game, but it had been cancelled. In his Indians career, he racked up 3489 at-bats, 546 runs, 194 doubles, 83 triples, 122 homers, and 619 RBIs. In his 1st full season (1938), he led the league with 18 triples and was 2nd overall with a .343 average (his career high) behind Jimmie Foxx, giving him a chance to be all-time uniform #4 - we'll just have to wait and see.

Jim Devlin - 1 season (1944) - Amazing as it may seem, there have been THREE Jim Devlins in baseball. This one is not the one from the Louisville Grays game-sabotaging scandal. Alas, this Devlin appeared in only one game for one at-bat, ending his MLB career with the all-too-familiar .000 average.

Jim Hegan - 14 seasons (1941-42, 46-57) - Hegan came to the Tribe in 1941 as the back-up catcher and managed to hit his career high avg 319 (in 16 games, 47 at-bats). The next year, he dropped to .194, and then headed for military service. He came back in '46 and stayed for 11 more seasons, making five all-star appearances ('47, '49, '50, '51, '52) and was a member of the '48 World Series-winning team and the '54 WS-losing team. In '48, he only missed 10 games and the next year, he only missed TWO days of the season (batting 248 and 224, respectively). One site I found (, tells that Hegan caught for six Indians pitchers that turned in a total of 18 twenty-win seasons. That says a lot about a catcher's ability. He helped the Tribe win 111 games in '54 (an all-time AL record for the 154-game schedule). During his career with the Tribe, he caught three no-hitters ('47, '48, '51). Amazingly, except for his first season, he never hit over .250 throughout his career. Despite that, he had eight 40+ RBI seasons and nine seasons with fewer than 50 strikeouts. According to several sources, it was Hegan's incredible feats of catching pop-ups and controlling balls in the dirt that kept the fans on his side, no matter how bad his batting average looked. He's definitely in the running for all-time Triber uni #4.

Joe Gordon - 4 seasons (1947-'50) - Gordon came to the Tribe from the Yankees and was elected to the AL All-star team three times during his time with the Indians ('47, '48,'49) and was with the team for the '48 World Series. Though this list is about all-time Tribers, I have got to point out the fact that Morgan played in 11 seasons as a pro, being elected to the AL All-stars NINE of those seasons, and appearing in SIX World Series seasons. This guy came to play. In 1948, he hit 32 home runs (an AL record until 2001) and 124 RBIs on 154 hits, netting him a .371 OBP and a .507 slugging percentage. Larry Doby referred to Gordon has his "first friend in white baseball." He is a true contender for all-time uni #4.

Joe Morgan - 1 season (1961) - When I read that Joe Morgan had played for the Tribe, I was puzzled. Naturally, my mind immediately thought of the HOFer, even though I never recalled him playing for the Tribe. My gut was right. THIS Joe Morgan pre-dates the HOFer. He played in 4 games as an Indian. In 10 at-bats, he managed 2 hits, a base-on-balls, and 3 strikeouts. He left with a .200 average. Later in life, though, he managed the Red Sox to a 2nd place season.

Joel Skinner - 3 seasons (1989-91) - Probably best known lately for holding Kenny Lofton at 3rd base during game 7 of the 2007 WS on what would have been an easy game-tying RBI for Lofton. The Tribe went on to lose by nine runs, thus sending "Tribe Time" into a black hole (hmm, was that a bit biased?). But, none of that has bearing on his playing, which is what the all-time uniform countdown is about, right (does the name Pete Rose come to mind here)? Skinner was yet another back-up catcher to Sandy Alomar (and Alan Allanson). During his three seasons as a Tribe player, his average went from .230 to .252 to .243. He hit 4 home runs over the span of his Tribe-time and only one triple and 28 doubles - better than some of the folks in the list, and worse than others.

Johnny Hodapp - 7+ seasons (1925 - part of 1932) - His first name is actually Urban, which today would be a cool baseball name to have. He joined the Tribe in 1925, but didn't really begin to show his talents until two seasons later. In 1927, he got 73 hits in 79 games with 40 RBIs (for a .304 avg). He continued to improve and led the AL in 1930 with 225 hits and 51 doubles. He also smacked in 121 RBIs with 111 runs that year. In 1932, he played in only 7 games before being traded to the White Sox.

JW Porter - 1 seasons (1958) - Image taken from - Porter, probably better known from his Tigers days, only played in 40 games with the Tribe. In 85 at-bats, he scored 13 runs on 17 hits, bringing in 19 RBIs, but striking out 23 times. He left the Tribe with a .200 average. A bit of trivia: The J.W. initials do not stand for anything - they ARE his first name!

Leo Cardenas - 1 season (1973) - I couldn't find Cardenas in a Tribe uni, but I found this image online and thought it was cool (you know what an oddball-nut I am!). Leonardo played in 72 games with the Indians and in 195 at-bats, got as many hits as he did strikeouts (42). He only scored 9 runs, but did manage to get 12 RBIs on those, for what it's worth. He was traded to the Rangers for Ken Suarez in '74.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent idea with the uniform numbers, and great research too!