#89 - Chuck Stobbs - Washington Senators
I'm making an effort to focus on vintage cards in my second stint at collecting. You know, the cards that were locked in the glass case just out of reach at the card shop, seemingly unattainable to a kid whose sole source of income was a $5.00 weekly allowance. One lofty goal that I've set for myself this time around is to complete a 1953 Topps baseball set. This seemed like a reasonable place to start for a few reasons. 1953 Topps is my favorite vintage baseball set. It doesn't hurt that the set consists of only 274 cards and is much more reasonably priced than the 1952 set (try finding a high numbered '52 card in decent shape for less than a couple hundred bucks). In any event, this is something that will help give my blog some direction, and I plan on tracking my progress here. Leading off is card #89, Chuck Stobbs of the Washington Senators...
Chuck was drafted by my local team, the Boston Red Sox, and would spend the first 3 full years of his career with the club. He pitched his way to a decent 11-8 record with the Senators in 1953, with a respectable 3.29 ERA. Unfortunately for Chuck, the most notable fact regarding his 1953 campaign was not his win total, ERA, or single stolen base. It was his involvement in the play from which the phrase "tape measure home run" would be born. Chuck was not the one swinging the bat during this particular play. If you don't believe me, check out the big goose egg in the Home Run column of his career batting statistics. In a game against the visiting Yankees, the meatball* that Mr. Stobbs served up to Mickey Mantle was crushed entirely out of Griffith Stadium, a blast that was an estimated 565 feet in length (a steroid-free blast at that!). It was from this dinger that the term "tape measure home run" came to be.
Maybe it will be a few months from now on Sportscenter. Maybe it will be during next summer's home run derby. Whenever it happens, I hope the next time you hear the words "tape measure home run" you take a moment to say to yourself "Thank you. Thank you Chuck Stobbs."
*While I do not have any specific credible sources to verify that the pitch was indeed a "meatball", I reserve the right to apply this word to any pitch that is crushed for a distance of over 500 feet.