Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Picture Of The Day--Washington Senators Spring Training 1958
51 years ago The Washington Senators trained in Orlando, Florida using famous Tinker Field as their home base. Like many of Washington's teams in the 1950's, the 1958 version was not that good either. But what they did have were a handful of good young players that over the next few seasons would become solid Major League Players. One of whom would become a Hall Of Famer.
Outfielder Roy Sievers was just coming off leading The American League in Home Runs with 42 in 1957. His outfield mate--Jim Lemon was the only other true hitting star on the ballclub. The Senators had traded away eventual American League Batting Champion Pete Runnels over the previous winter. Those three were this team's veterans--but not their future.
As The Senators headed to Spring Training that February--turnover had again mostly made Washington a young team. Camilio Pascual and Pedro Ramos were talented pitchers in their early 20's. And in this photo from Spring Training 1958--two of Washington's prize everyday youngsters are shown. One would have a breakout '58 season. The other would arrive in 1959--for good.
On the left waiting to catch a ball--Centerfielder Albie Pearson was in his first year on a big league roster. The diminutive centerfielder parlayed this opportunity into becoming The American League Rookie Of The Year. Pearson was a previous subject of a Picture Of The Day.
Former George Washington University star in Football and Baseball--Steve Korcheck--is just to the left of Pearson. A journeyman Major League Catcher at best, Korcheck made Washington Baseball Historian Phil Wood's Day as a youngster--when Phil met Korcheck working on the same job as Phil's Dad. "Oh My God! Steve Korcheck!!" Phil told me in our conversation last November. "Honestly, if it had been Ted Williams I would not have been more thrilled.” Korcheck didn't last long in The Majors.
Nor did Bob Malkmus--on the extreme right in this photo. A journeyman middle infielder, Malkmus actually played briefly for The 1957 World Series Champion Milwaukee Braves. Was eventually drafted twice in The Rule V Draft--once by Washington from Milwaukee and again by Philadelphia from Denver of The American Association. Malkmus would have one really nice campaign--as a Super Substitute for 1961 for The Phillies. He started at 2nd, 3rd and Shortstop for Philadelphia that season.
But the very sight of a very young Harmon Killebrew, following through on a toss, makes this photo very special. Little did anyone realize that "Killer" was one year away from beginning a tremendous career. Sadly for Washington Fans, mostly in Minnesota, as The Senators moved to The Twin Cities for 1961. Up and Down from The Minor Leagues since signing as an 18 year old in 1954 out of Idaho--Killebrew would spend most all of '58 in Chattanooga (The Senators AAA Farm Club). But in 1959--Harmon would launch 42 Home Runs and knock in 105 Runs with Griffith Stadium as his home park. The beginnings of a fabulous Major League career. Over the next 14 years--Killebrew would hammer over 25 Home Runs--13 times. The only time he did not--Old Number 3 missed one third of the season due to injury. Harmon Killebrew was a feared slugger. 12 time All-Star. Winner of The Most Valuable Player Award--top 4 American League MVP Candidate six different times.
The Heart & Soul Of The Minnesota Twins Great Teams of The 1960's.
Killebrew finished his illustrious career with 573 Career Home Runs.
May someone for Our Washington Nationals breakout and surprise everyone in 2009 and fulfill a fine Major League Career in The Nation's Capital too. There really are some similarities (good one's too) between that old '58 Senators Team and Our 2009 Nationals Version.
Washington Senators Spring Training--1958. The Picture Of The Day.
Photo by George Silk. Copyright--Time, Inc