Wednesday, May 28, 2014

1953 Topps Project - Bubba Church

Today's post features the 69th card in my ever-growing 1953 Topps baseball set...

Emory Nicholas "Bubba" Church enjoyed a relatively short MLB career at just six seasons spanning from 1950 through 1955.  Before his pro baseball career started he, like so many young men of his generation, served in our country's military.  Church was actually deployed to India and saw some action with the US Army during the latter part of WWII.

After returning to the states Bubba's pro ball career got on track.  His rookie season in 1950 with the Philadelphia Phillies was going very well before it was cut short by a line drive to the head (which was traveling at such speed that the ball ricocheted off his head all the way to the outfield without a bounce!).  There's an interesting anecdote about the ball-to-the-head incident here if you enjoy reading those sorts of things.  He made 18 starts total that year and finished with an 8-6 record and an impressive 2.73 ERA, good enough to actually garner some Rookie of the Year votes (he finished 4th).

After turning in another good year with the Fightin' Phils in '51 (career highs in most pitching categories), Church was dealt to the Reds in the early part of the 1952 season.  He'd finish the 1952 season and begin 1953 with Cincinnati, which is why he's depicted as a Red on this card, but found himself on the trading block again in 1953, this time being sent to the Chicago Cubs.  Bubba never really recaptured the magic of those first couple of seasons in Philadelphia though, and suffered some arm problems as well.  Just two appearances into the 1955 season his professional baseball career came to an end.

Church wasn't a total slouch with the bat either.  In the three seasons where he saw more than 50 plate appearances he hit .229, .235 and .256.  There's a few position players on the Red Sox who I'd love to see hit the .256 mark this season!  Bubba even managed a few home runs during his career as well.  Bubba Church passed away just a few days after his 77th birthday in 2001, in the same town in which he was born.

Set Progress:  69 of 274 (25%)

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