Baseball History: Al Lopez

al lopez diamond starsIt was 85 years ago when Brooklyn’s Al Lopez hit what today would be a double.

Instead during a National League game back in 1930, hitting a fair ball that bounced into the stands was considered a home run.

Lopez hit his three-run shot off Cincinnati Reds pitcher Ray Kolp in the third inning of a 7-3 win by the Brooklyn Robins in Ebbets Field.

The American League had changed the rule to make it a double after the 1929 season, but it took the NL an additional season before the situation would be universal in the majors.

As a result according to some sources, Lopez is credited with the last of the “bounce” home runs on Sept. 12, 1930. It was his sixth and final homer of that season. He finished with a career-high 57 RBI.

Playing Career

Lopez hit 51 homers in his 19-year career from 1928 to 1947 with the Brooklyn Robins (Dodgers), Boston Bees (Braves), Pittsburgh Pirates and the Cleveland Indians.

A two-time all-star, Lopez went hitless in the 1934 contest when he was representing Brooklyn. He hit seven homers and knocked in 54 runs that year.

The catcher hit a career-best eight long balls in 1939 with Boston.

In 1941, he was playing with the Pirates when his made his last all-star appearance.

When he retired from the Indians in 1947, Lopez held the big league mark for most games caught.

al lopez 1969Big League Manager

Lopez became the manager for the Indians in 1951 and stayed with the club until 1956. The Indians were second in the AL every season with the exception of 1954 when they won 111 contests to win the pennant, but they lost in the World Series to the New York Giants.

After leaving the Indians, Lopez took over the reins of the Chicago White Sox from 1957 to 1965. He also had stints with the White Sox in 1968 and 1969 before retiring with 1,410 wins in 17 years.

Lopez led the White Sox to the AL pennant in 1959, but they would eventually fall to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series.

During a stretch from 1949 to 1964 the New York Yankees won every AL flag except when Lopez led teams broke the spell in 1954 and 1959.

Hall of Fame

Lopez did gets some votes for the National Baseball Hall of Fame after he left the game as a player, but it was his managerial career that landed him in Cooperstown.

Eddie Moore hit 13 homers in his career, but thanks to the rules at the time only seven cleared the fence.

Eddie Moore hit 13 homers in his career.

Inducted by the Veteran’s Committee in 1977, Lopez never had a losing record in 15 full seasons and had a winning percentage of .584.

The Last One?

In a double check of the facts on the Baseball-Reference.com site, the home run by Lopez may not have been the last that bounced over the fence.

Eddie Moore, Lopez’s Brooklyn teammate, also hit a homer that bounced in the opener of a doubleheader at Ebbets Field against Boston on Sept. 27, 1930.

Moore played 10 seasons in the big leagues from 1923 to 1934 for Pittsburgh, Brooklyn, Boston (NL), New York (NL) and Cleveland.

He hit just one homer in 1930 and only 13 in his career with two bouncing in the stands. He also hit four inside-the-park homers.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s