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Author Topic: Del Crandall - The Last Brave Of Boston  (Read 1325 times)
bklynmike101
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« on: May 07, 2021, 01:57:18 PM »

Sad to report that Del Crandall, top shelf catcher in the 50s and early 60's, big league manager and broadcaster, and the last living player from the old Boston Braves, died earlier this week at the age of 91. He had reportedly been in ill health for some time.
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JoeC
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« Reply #1 on: May 07, 2021, 03:29:27 PM »

Sorry to hear that. I only recall him with the Milwaukee Braves (my prime years of baseball immersion were 1954-60). Signed by the Boston Braves at age 18 right out of Fullerton HS down in Orange County.

Gold Glove catcher, with above average arm and power. Rarely hit for a high season average but he was so entrenched as the Braves catcher that I have no clue who backed him up in those years.

« Last Edit: May 07, 2021, 03:34:12 PM by JoeC » Logged
Robb_K
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« Reply #2 on: May 08, 2021, 01:16:27 AM »

Sorry to hear that. I only recall him with the Milwaukee Braves (my prime years of baseball immersion were 1954-60). Signed by the Boston Braves at age 18 right out of Fullerton HS down in Orange County.

Gold Glove catcher, with above average arm and power. Rarely hit for a high season average but he was so entrenched as the Braves catcher that I have no clue who backed him up in those years.


I remember the answer to this question as The Cubs were so bad then, I was also a Braves fan.  Walker Cooper was the Braves starting catcher during their last several years in Boston.  He backed up Crandall on The '53 Braves, after Dell returned from a 2-year stint in The Army.  Then Sammy Calderone in '54, then in '55 The Braves traded with The Cards for their long-time starter, Del Rice.  Rice played a lot in '56, when Crandall got injured.  Both Rice and Carl Sawatski backed him in '57, as Rice got injured.  It was all Rice in '58.  But, of course, unless Crandall got hurt, most of those years he caught over 120 games.  In '59 Rice (by then ancient) got hurt again, and The Braves brought in Stan Lopata in a trade with The Phillies.  But Del caught an amazing over 145 games in both '57, '58 and '59.  And it was no coincidence that the Braves won the pennant 2 of the 3 years, and tied for it in the 3rd.  In 1960, Charlie Lau was brought up, after Lopata got hurt.  Both, together only played a handful of games, as Crandall again caught over 140 games.  In 1960 Del hit a robust .294.  That was the only year he flirted with the .300 mark.  But he always hit a decent number of HRs, and drove in runs, and was great with pitchers, and a great defensive catcher.  
« Last Edit: May 08, 2021, 09:48:48 PM by Robb_K » Logged

JoeC
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« Reply #3 on: May 08, 2021, 10:26:00 AM »

Robb, thanks. For some reason I always (wrongly) think of Del Rice as exclusively a Cardinal.

"Swish" Sawatski. Well-traveled catcher known for the occasional tape measure HR and consistently horrible defense behind the plate. Didn't he wear glasses, like Clint Courtney?

Then, as now, all-round top catchers were/are at a premium. Considering there were only 16 teams back in the day, I'd have thought the quality across the leagues woukl've been uniformly better.
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Robb_K
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« Reply #4 on: May 08, 2021, 12:12:07 PM »

Robb, thanks. For some reason I always (wrongly) think of Del Rice as exclusively a Cardinal.

"Swish" Sawatski. Well-traveled catcher known for the occasional tape measure HR and consistently horrible defense behind the plate. Didn't he wear glasses, like Clint Courtney?

Then, as now, all-round top catchers were/are at a premium. Considering there were only 16 teams back in the day, I'd have thought the quality across the leagues would've been uniformly better.
Yes, Carl wore specs.  Rice had a very long career as a Cardinal, but he also played 4 seasons for The Braves.  Catching is the hardest job in Baseball.  So, they are severely underappreciated and underpaid.  That's why their equipment is called "The tools of ignorance".  Smarter ones change position as soon as possible, like Joe Torre, Dale Murphy, and Gary Carter.  I remember that several 1940s players started as catchers but moved to a less body-punishing position after a few years, but can't remember who they are.  I remembered seeing their long career stats in the Baseball Encyclopedia, with positions listed.  That's how I learned that George Sisler and Stan Musial started as pitchers.  There were more surprises that some great hitting outfielders, and first basemen started as catchers - also a few third basemen.
« Last Edit: May 08, 2021, 09:48:08 PM by Robb_K » Logged

bklynmike101
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« Reply #5 on: May 08, 2021, 01:41:57 PM »

If Crandall were playing today, his offensive production would easily place him in the top rungs for catchers - top 20% for sure, maybe higher. Today, and for the past, several decades or more, in my estimation only about 5-10 out of 30 teams, and they may be generous, sport a single decent hitting backstop. Easily the toughest and most thankless position to play for sure.   
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JoeC
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« Reply #6 on: May 08, 2021, 03:51:26 PM »

Yes, Carl wore specs.  Rice had a very long career as a Cardinal, but he also played 4 seasons for The Braves.  Catching is the hardest job in Baseball.  So, they are severely underappreciated underpaid.  That's why their equipment is called "The tools of ignorance".  Smarter ones change position as soon as possible, like Joe Torre, Dale Murphy, and Gary Carter.  I remember that several 1940s players started as catchers but moved to a less body-punishing position after a few years, but can't remember who they are.  I remembered seeing their long career stats in the Baseball Encyclopedia, with positions listed.  That's how I learned that George Sisler and Stan Musial started as pitchers.  There were more surprises that some great hitting outfielders, and first basemen started as catchers - also a few third basemen.
Gil Hodges was one. He was a catcher in the minors and actually caught a few games in the NL when he came up to the Dodgers.
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Robb_K
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« Reply #7 on: May 08, 2021, 09:51:10 PM »

Yes, Carl wore specs.  Rice had a very long career as a Cardinal, but he also played 4 seasons for The Braves.  Catching is the hardest job in Baseball.  So, they are severely underappreciated underpaid.  That's why their equipment is called "The tools of ignorance".  Smarter ones change position as soon as possible, like Joe Torre, Dale Murphy, and Gary Carter.  I remember that several 1940s players started as catchers but moved to a less body-punishing position after a few years, but can't remember who they are.  I remembered seeing their long career stats in the Baseball Encyclopedia, with positions listed.  That's how I learned that George Sisler and Stan Musial started as pitchers.  There were more surprises that some great hitting outfielders, and first basemen started as catchers - also a few third basemen.
Gil Hodges was one. He was a catcher in the minors and actually caught a few games in the NL when he came up to the Dodgers.

Yes!  He was one of the late '40s/'50s group I was trying to remember.  There were several more.  I was always shocked to find out these all stars at other positions started as catchers.
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Robb_K
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« Reply #8 on: May 08, 2021, 09:59:55 PM »

Del Crandall - The Last Brave Of Boston

Eddie Matthews played with The Braves in Atlanta in 1966, while Crandall's last year with The Braves was 1963, in Milwaukee.  So, that "Last Boston Brave" must refer to the last one who played for The Braves in Boston, to stay alive (dying this year, outliving Mathews by 20 years).
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bklynmike101
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« Reply #9 on: May 09, 2021, 12:48:50 PM »

Robb,

C'est exact.  Wink

Craig Biggio comes to mind as a more recent example of a guy who came up to the show as a backstop, and went on to have major success (HOF) at other positions. Long Island kid as I recall.
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JoeC
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« Reply #10 on: May 09, 2021, 02:10:52 PM »

Yes, Carl wore specs.  Rice had a very long career as a Cardinal, but he also played 4 seasons for The Braves.  Catching is the hardest job in Baseball.  So, they are severely underappreciated underpaid.  That's why their equipment is called "The tools of ignorance".  Smarter ones change position as soon as possible, like Joe Torre, Dale Murphy, and Gary Carter.  I remember that several 1940s players started as catchers but moved to a less body-punishing position after a few years, but can't remember who they are.  I remembered seeing their long career stats in the Baseball Encyclopedia, with positions listed.  That's how I learned that George Sisler and Stan Musial started as pitchers.  There were more surprises that some great hitting outfielders, and first basemen started as catchers - also a few third basemen.
Gil Hodges was one. He was a catcher in the minors and actually caught a few games in the NL when he came up to the Dodgers.

Yes!  He was one of the late '40s/'50s group I was trying to remember.  There were several more.  I was always shocked to find out these all stars at other positions started as catchers.
I think the Pirates tried Dale Long at catcher, very early in his career. Even though he threw with his left.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2021, 02:33:39 PM by JoeC » Logged
Robb_K
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« Reply #11 on: May 09, 2021, 10:55:37 PM »

Yes, Carl wore specs.  Rice had a very long career as a Cardinal, but he also played 4 seasons for The Braves.  Catching is the hardest job in Baseball.  So, they are severely underappreciated underpaid.  That's why their equipment is called "The tools of ignorance".  Smarter ones change position as soon as possible, like Joe Torre, Dale Murphy, and Gary Carter.  I remember that several 1940s players started as catchers but moved to a less body-punishing position after a few years, but can't remember who they are.  I remembered seeing their long career stats in the Baseball Encyclopedia, with positions listed.  That's how I learned that George Sisler and Stan Musial started as pitchers.  There were more surprises that some great hitting outfielders, and first basemen started as catchers - also a few third basemen.
Gil Hodges was one. He was a catcher in the minors and actually caught a few games in the NL when he came up to the Dodgers.

Yes!  He was one of the late '40s/'50s group I was trying to remember.  There were several more.  I was always shocked to find out these all stars at other positions started as catchers.
I think the Pirates tried Dale Long at catcher, very early in his career. Even though he threw with his left.

Yes, Dale Long was another of those, along with Gil Hodges, that I was trying to remember.  There were several more, and most were very surprising.  The World has passed us by.  Anything before The Year 2000 is no longer relevant.  I googled "baseball stars who started as catchers, quickly were moved to other positions and became all stars", and got a list of only players who started their careers in the 1990s and later.  I type "1960s Soul Artists who........"  and they send me only so-called Soul singers from 1990 onward and cross out the word "1960s".  Same when I type "1940s R&B singer who....", or "1940s Baseball, or Hockey, or Football player who...".  When I'm searching for obscure information about an obscure person from the past, I usually get sent information about someone who was a mega star.  If I get sent to any source about the particular person, it's usually to a forum where I asked the same question I'm asking Google!   Google and other search engines are designed to make money by interesting the masses in products and entertainment others are selling.  They don't earn money sending knowledge seekers to the places where their questions can be answered.
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doctordoowop
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« Reply #12 on: May 10, 2021, 11:07:30 PM »

Didnt he manage or was he a pitching coach an MLB team--Angels?
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bklynmike101
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« Reply #13 on: May 11, 2021, 11:09:13 AM »

Not sure. But Long did hold a record for many years - hitting HRs in 6 consecutive games - or something like that.
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Robb_K
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« Reply #14 on: May 11, 2021, 05:27:20 PM »

Not sure. But Long did hold a record for many years - hitting HRs in 6 consecutive games - or something like that.

Yes, I remember that mentioned on the information cartoon on the back of his card.  The illustration showed him swinging and hitting six balls with the same bat and swing!   Cheesy
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Robb_K
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« Reply #15 on: May 11, 2021, 05:32:31 PM »

Not sure. But Long did hold a record for many years - hitting HRs in 6 consecutive games - or something like that.
I think Dr. DooWop was referring to Del Crandall as manager or coach with The Angels, rather than Dale Long.  Crandall originally came from Orange County, CA.  So, it stands to reason.  I think I remember that he was a coach with them for a few years.  I don't think he ever was their manager,.   However, he WAS manager of The Milwaukee Brewers in the '70s, and The Seattle Mariners in the early 1980s.
« Last Edit: May 12, 2021, 11:01:53 AM by Robb_K » Logged

doctordoowop
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« Reply #16 on: May 12, 2021, 02:26:40 AM »

mike--it was 8. Did  Mattingly tie it?
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bklynmike101
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« Reply #17 on: May 12, 2021, 11:30:55 AM »

DDW,

Mattingly - seems to ring a bell re: Long's record. As does Long's 1959 sea green card - a favorite of mine. Long had a few years as PH extraordinaire with NYY early 60's. 
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doctordoowop
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« Reply #18 on: May 13, 2021, 10:07:28 PM »

Rite Robb--Crandall-Angels.
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