December 22 – Happy Birthday Matty Alou

Having three brothers talented enough to become professional anythings is not easy. Take my family as an example. My older brother Matt has a great singing voice. People tell me I could have been the next Sinatra. But any chance the three Cinquanti brothers might have had to become professional entertainers was squashed by our oldest brother Jerry, who couldn’t carry a tune to save his life.

The three Alou brothers, on the other hand, had no weak link when it came to baseball talent. The oldest, Felipe, was the best all-around player of the three. The youngest, Jesus, put together a .280 lifetime batting average over fifteen big league seasons. But only middle sibling, Matty, won a batting championship and finished his big league career with a batting average above .300 (.307).

Matty was not always the best hitting Alou brother. When he came up with the Giants, he used a light bat and an upper cut swing because that’s the way his older brother did it. It was not until he got traded to Pittsburgh, in 1966, and came under the hitting tutelage of Harry “The Hat” Walker that Matty started hitting for average. Walker gave his new outfielder a heavier bat and using Roberto Clemente as an interpreter, convinced Matty to start swinging down on the ball. The results were immediate. Matty won the 1966 NL batting title with a .342 average and did not hit below .331 during his first four seasons with the Pirates. When he finally did (.297 in 1970), Pittsburgh traded him to St Louis.

He ended up with Oakland and a championship ring in 1972 and the Yankees got him in a trade before the 1973 season. For a while, he was reunited with Felipe until New York traded the elder Alou to Montreal late in that same season. Matty hit .296 during his one year in pinstripes and then got sold back to the Cardinals.

How good were the Alou brothers? Between the three of them, Joe, Dom and Vince DiMaggio had 4,853 career hits during their big league careers. Felipe, Matty and Jesus had 5,094.

Matty was born December 22, 1938 and was three years younger than Felipe and four years older than Jesus. He passed away in November of 2011 from complications caused by diabetes. He was 72-years-old.

Alou shared his December 22nd birthday with this former Yankee pitcher and this one-time Yankee catcher.

Year Tm G PA AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS
1973 NYY 123 538 497 59 147 22 1 2 28 5 30 43 .296 .338 .356 .694
15 Yrs 1667 6220 5789 780 1777 236 50 31 427 156 311 377 .307 .345 .381 .726
SFG (6 yrs) 453 1131 1048 136 272 32 7 12 72 21 59 101 .260 .304 .338 .642
PIT (5 yrs) 743 3224 3018 434 986 129 34 6 202 98 147 165 .327 .360 .398 .758
STL (3 yrs) 268 1103 1024 132 322 45 8 10 106 30 59 50 .314 .352 .403 .756
OAK (1 yr) 32 136 121 11 34 5 0 1 16 2 11 12 .281 .341 .347 .688
SDP (1 yr) 48 88 81 8 16 3 0 0 3 0 5 6 .198 .241 .235 .476
NYY (1 yr) 123 538 497 59 147 22 1 2 28 5 30 43 .296 .338 .356 .694
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 12/22/2013.

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