February 25th, 1863 was the birthday of Hezekiah Allen, who was a catcher for the Philadelphia Quakers in 1884. Below, a picture of the ’84 Quakers. (Not sure if Allen is among them; I suspect not, I guess.)
Hezekiah’s debut was 16 May 1884, against the Buffalo Bisons. Not a good game for the Quakers, as they went down to defeat, 9-0, but Allen had a pretty nice game, going 2 for 3, hitting a couple of singles. The previous day the Quakers had downed the Bison 25-5, and the day after they whupped the Cleveland club, 16-2. Perhaps Allen was demoralized by the team’s lackluster performance in the game he played? Perhaps he saw signs of coming disaster? Perhaps he was injured, or just filling in for a friend? In any case, the 2 for 3 performance ends up being Hezekiah Allen’s mark in baseball. One game played, a .667 lifetime batting average. Hezekiah Allen disappears from the baseball record books, and the Quakers who stood at 7-6 after their 16-2 trouncing of the Cleveland club, collapse without Allen’s presence, and finish the season with a 39-73 mark.
On the other extreme, happy birthday today to Monte Irvin. Irvin was born on this day in 1919, had a brilliant career in the Negro leagues, hitting .422 and .396 in 1940 and 1941. After serving in WWII from 1943-45, Irvin came back to lead the Newark Eagles to the pennant, hitting .401 to win the batting title. In 1949 the NY Giants bought his rights, and Irvin made his major league debut as a pinch-hitter on July 8, 1949. (He drew a walk.)
Starting out again in the minors in 1950, Monte was called up after 18 games, hitting .510 with 10 home runs. He hit .299 that year with the Giants, playing first base and the outfield, and in ’51 he hit .312 with 24 home runs and 121 rbi, leading the Giants to a 3 game playoff against the Dodgers, and then into the World Series (where they lost to the Yankees, 4 games to 2).
Monte was 30 years old when he made his major league debut, and played 8 seasons in the majors, with a lifetime average of .293 and 99 home runs. Today, his birthday, he’s 95 and living in Houston, Texas. According to Wikipedia, he’s the oldest living African-American to have played in the major leagues, and the oldest living member of a World Series team, having won with the Giants in 1954.
Happy Birthday Monte!
Good game, Monte.
Good game, Hezekiah.