December 13 – Happy Birthday Hank Majeski
Like hundreds of other young big league prospects from the same era, Staten Island native Hank Majeski’s baseball career was put on hold for military service during World War II. Nicknamed “Heeney,” he had started his baseball career as a second baseman, but when he made his big league debut with the Boston Bee’s in 1941, Boston manager Casey Stengel switched him to the hot corner. It was a wise move by the “Ol Perfessor” as Majeski evolved into one of the best defensive third basemen in baseball over the next decade. Before that happened, however, the Yankees acquired him from Boston and before he had a chance to play in the Bronx, he turned in his baseball uniform and put on the uniform of the US Coast Guard, which he wore for the next three years.
By the time he was discharged in 1946, he was already 29-years-old. Major League Baseball had expanded rosters to thirty slots at the end of the war to accommodate all of the ballplayers returning from military service. That made it easier for Majeski to make his first Yankee team that spring but also created a crowd of third baseman competing for playing time. With Snuffy Stirnweiss, Billy Johnson and Bobby Brown all on the same roster, its real easy to understand why Majeski only got into eight Yankee games during the first half of that 1946 season. It also explains why the Yankees sold him to the Philadelphia A’s that June.
Connie Mack immediately made his new acquisition the team’s starting third baseman and for the next five seasons, Majeski played brilliantly in the field, setting the MLB record for best fielding percentage by a third baseman (.989) in 1947. Though he hadn’t been known for his offensive skills, Majeski developed into an excellent hitter as well, averaging over 280 during his six years with Philly and surprising everyone in baseball in 1948 when he drove in 120 runs, set a career high in hits with 186 and batting average, with a .310 figure.
Heeney Majeski later got sold to Cleveland and ended his big league career with the Orioles in 1955 at the age of 38. After his playing days, he became a big league and college coach. He died of cancer in 1991 at the age of 74.
|PHA (6 yrs)||604||2474||2221||284||629||128||23||37||346||7||210||144||.283||.350||.412||.762|
|CLE (4 yrs)||179||305||273||26||74||9||0||7||44||0||25||32||.271||.338||.381||.719|
|BSN (3 yrs)||128||453||425||40||108||21||1||7||57||2||19||43||.254||.289||.358||.647|
|CHW (2 yrs)||134||503||449||51||137||22||2||6||52||1||43||34||.305||.370||.403||.773|
|NYY (1 yr)||8||12||12||1||1||0||1||0||0||0||0||3||.083||.083||.250||.333|
|BAL (1 yr)||16||43||41||2||7||1||0||0||2||0||2||4||.171||.209||.195||.404|