One of the often unsung heroes in the 1957 Milwaukee Braves' World Series championship is outfielder Bob Hazle, who came out of obscurity to hit .403/.477/.649 in 41 games down the stretch to help power the team to the pennant. Hazle was 26 years old at the time and had played just six previous games in his major league career, all two years earlier as a member of the 1955 Reds.
Since 1940 Hazle and Ted Williams are the only players in the major leagues to compile at least 150 plate appearances and a batting average over .400 in a season (although David Wright of the Mets entered play yesterday at 169 PAs and .403). However, at that point Hazle's major league career was already almost over.
After he hit .179/.303/.179 in his first 20 games, the Braves sold Hazle to the Tigers on this day in 1958. Here's what Eddie Mathews is quoted as saying about the decision in Milwaukee Braves: Heroes and Heartbreak:
The other ballplayers were completely stunned and upset about it. Here was a guy who came out of nowhere and led us, not single-handedly, but led us to our first World Series. He was in a slump for the first month of 1958, but he'd had some ankle trouble in spring. We figured the ball club owed him more than that.
Hazle played 43 more games for the Tigers that season, and it was his last in the majors.
With help from the B-Ref Play Index, happy birthday today to:
- 2002 Brewer Dave Pember, who turns 34.
- 1971-73 Brewer Ellie Rodriguez, who turns 66. We covered his birthday in this space last year.