Sunday, April 12, 2015

I Didn't Know He Played For: Hollywood Stars

The city of Hollywood is known world wide for many things.  There is the famous Hollywood sign, of course. The Sunset Strip.  The Miracle Mile.  Paramount Studios.  The Walk of Fame.  The LaBrea Tar Pits.  It has the streets where Lucille Ball, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope and Rudolph Valentino walked.  It has the bars that launched the careers of The Doors, Van Halen, Motley Crue and Guns N Roses.

One of the lost traditions of the Hollywood area is the legacy of the Hollywood Stars.  From 1926-1957 (with the exception of 1936 and 1937) the city of Hollywood had a team in the Pacific Coast League.  In 1958, when the Dodgers arrived in town, the Hollywood Stars closed up shop.

Of course those in the Los Angeles/Hollywood area know the legendary Dodgers who came through town. The names like Koufax, Drysdale, Hershiser, Garvey, Cey, Lopes, Valenzuela and Gibson will never be forgotten.  What has been forgotten are the days when the Hollywood Stars played at Gilmore Field (now the site of The Grove at 3rd and Fairfax.  There is a small display at the Farmer's Market entrance honoring the history of Gilmore Field).  So although you may know the Dodgers who came through town, here are a list of other players who came through town as part of the Hollywood Stars  (and don't miss the other teams in this series and learn about players you may not know played for  ReadingOrioles,  Red SoxYankeesBlue Jays and Rays):

Braggo Roth:

Braggo Roth would play 8 years in the Major Leagues, mostly with Cleveland.  He never played in a World Series game but he seemed to have a knack for just missing the action.  In fact he was moved around so much his nickname became the "Globetrotter".  He played for the White Sox in 1914 and 1915.  In 1915 he was traded to the Cleveland Indians and in return the White Sox received Shoeless Joe Jackson.  Two years later the White Sox were World Champions.  He played for the Indians through 1918.  In March 1919 he was sent to Philadelphia in exchange for Larry Gardner, Charlie Jamieson and Elmer Myer.  While Roth suffered in the depths of the A's dark years, the three players that went to Cleveland helped the Tribe win their first ever World Series.  He wouldn't spend long in Philadelphia and would be sent to Boston half way through 1919.  Unfortunately for Roth, the Red Sox were on the decline as most of their stars (including Babe Ruth and Carl Mays) had been sent to the Yankees. From the Red Sox he was sent to the Senators and then sent to the Yankees for 1920.  He left the Yankees after the 1920 season.  Had he made the team one more year he would have made his first ever World Series, at the same time the Yankees made their first.  Roth was out of baseball as a player for 1921 and 1922 before returning to the minor leagues for 1923.  His final professional ball was played with the 1928 Hollywood Stars.  In 67 games he hit .283 with 1 Home Run.

Emil Yde:
Emil Yde had a brief but sometimes spectacular Major League career.  He started with the Pirates in 1924 and went 16-3.  It was a great personal season in the midst of a tough season for the Pirates.  His 1925 Pirates season was strong (17-9, 4.13) and although his ERA was high his win total helped the Pirates reach their first World Series since 1909.  Yde made one appearance in the Fall Classic that year.  He started Game 4 and allowed 5 hits and 4 runs in 2 1/3 innings for a Series ERA of 11.57.  The Pirates would win the Series but Yde was never effective again.  In what was a disaster of a season in 1926 Yde struggled (8-7, 3.65) while the team imploded in the middle of the ABC affair.  Yde would play part of 1927 for the Pirates but would again be ineffective.  1929 saw him drop to Indianapolis in AAA before resurfacing  with the Tigers for one average season (7-3, 5.30).  Trying to hang on to the baseball life for another shot at the big time, Yde landed in Hollywood.  He spent three years in Hollywood with the best year being 1932 with a 17-9 record and 3.94 ERA.

Bob Meusel:

The name Bob Meusel has become forgotten and unfairly so.  The first extended run of Yankee American League dominance was not possible without Bob.  Meusel was the Lou Gehrig of the Yankee lineup before Lou Gehrig.  Joining the Yankees in 1920, he was the first power hitter to join Babe Ruth in the Yankee lineup.  The two formed a powerful duo until Gehrig came along and then the three of them formed a powerful trio.  Ruth batted third, Gehrig fourth and Meusel fifth.  Between 1920, when Meusel joined the Yankees and 1930 when he left,  the Yankees won six American League titles and three World Series titles.  In the infamous 1927 Murderer's Row lineup Meusel hit 5th, wearing the #5 before DiMaggio came along.  Like Yde, Meusel tried to cling to the professional baseball life after the majors.  He found himself in Minneapolis in 1931.  In 1932, Yde's final year in Hollywood, Meusel played there as well.  In 64 games he hit .329 but at the end of the year, at age 36, Meusel walked away for good.

Bobby Doerr:

Bobby Doerr was born and raised in Los Angeles attending Fremont High School, located on San Pedro Street in what would now be considered South Central Los Angeles.  Doerr would be a part of the successful Red Sox group of the 1940's and 1950's that included Ted Williams, Dom DiMaggio and Johnny Pesky but before he made it to the majors he played for his local minor league team the Hollwood Stars.  Doerr played the 1934 and 1935 seasons in Hollywood before being acquired by the San Diego Padres, at that time a minor league affiliate for the Red Sox.  Following one year in San Diego Doerr was on to a Hall of Fame career in Boston.

Willard Hershberger:
Willard Hersberger had a short but tragic career.  The minor league career for Willard was much longer than his Major League career.  He moved through El Paso, Springfield, Erie, Newark and Binghamton before landing in Hollywood in 1934 (along with Doerr).  He hit .307 in 114 games that year before continuing on in the minors to Oakland and then Newark.  In 1938 he finally made the Major Leagues with the Cincinnati Reds.  According to Billy Werber, the Reds third baseman and sometime room mate of Hershberger.  "he was a hypochondriac and asked Dr. Richard Rhode, the Reds trainer, to check him out almost every day."  Hershberger was the backup Catcher for the Reds but was most effective as a Pinch Hitter in the Reds championship seasons of 1939 and 1940.  In August 1940 Hershberger got a chance behind the plate when Reds' star Ernie Lombardi injured an akle.  Unfortunately that chance coincided with a losing streak and Hershberger assumed that he was the cause.  "I called the wrong pitches.  If Lom had been in there we wouldn't have lost.  I've let the team down." Werber says Hershberger told him.  The next day Hershberger commited suicide.

Rod DeDeaux:

Raoul Marshall "Rod" Dedoux played a total of 2 games in the Major Leagues for the 1935 Brooklyn Dodgers, during the era the Brooklyn team's poor play gave them the name of the "Daffiness Boys".  He was born in New Orleans in 1914 but the family moved to California and Rod attended Hollywood High School. After his two games with Brooklyn he was sent back to the minors where he bounced around for a few years.  His final stop was in his home town of Hollywood where he played all of 30 games and hit .165.  Dedeaux's impact on baseball came not as a player but as a coach.  He ran the USC baseball program until 1986 during which time he won more games than any collegiate coach and managed two US Olympic teams, including the 1984 games in Los Angeles.  His program also produced some of the biggest names in baseball including Fred Lynn, Mark McGwire and Randy Johnson.

Charlie Root:

Charlie Root is mostly remembered as the man who gave up the "called shot" to Babe Ruth.  Root was actually a very good pitcher for the Cubs from 1926-1941.  Over his 17 year Major League career Root won 201 games and appeared in four World Series for the Cubs.  Following his departure from the Cubs in 1941 Root spent three seasons with the Hollywood Stars.  His best year was 1943 when he went 15-5 with a 3.09 ERA.

Rip Russeell:
Rip Russell would not have a tremendously long Major League career but he would play on one iconic team:  the 1946 Red Sox.  He spent the first four years of his career with the Cubs before being returned to the minor league Los Angeles Angels.  In 1946 Russell resurfaced with the Red Sox and played 80 games for the eventual American League champions.  He would get two plate appearances in the World Series against the Cardinals and would get a base hit in both giving him a 1.000 career post season  average.  Russell would play part of 1947 with the Sox before returning to Sacramento of the Pacific Coast League.  He would play 114 games of the 1948 season in Hollywood and would finish his professional career in 1949 with the Toledo Mud Hens.

Mel Queen:

Mel Queen came to the Yankees as a highly touted pitching prospect in 1942.  After a few unsuccessful years with New York he was sold to the Pirates where he continued to disappoint based on the high expectations placed on him.  He would finish his career in the major leagues with a 27-40 record before being sent to the Hollywood Stars, by that time a minor league affiliate for the Pirates. In 1952, his first year with the Stars, he went 14-9 and would also have a 16-8 season for Hollywood but his success in the minors could never be translated into Major League success, baffling the experts.  In all he spent four years in Hollywood.

Bill Mazeroski:
Bill Mazeroski was a 7 time All Star, 7 time Gold Glove winner, eventual Hall of Famer and hit one of the most famous Home Runs of all time.  Before all that he was a Hollywood Star.  Mazeroski played part of the 1955 and part of the 1956 season in Hollywood.  His minor league career was short since his talent was obvious and talent in Pittsburgh, at the time, was missing.

Al Zarilla:
Al Zarilla was never the star of a team.  He was never the driving force on a pennant winner.  He was never someone that changed the way an opposing team approached the game.  He was a very good player similar to a modern day Mark Ellis, Jamey Carroll or Nick Punto.  He would play 10 years in the Major Leagues, mostly with the St.Louis Browns and was a member of the only Browns World Series team.  His big league career ended in 1953 but he hung  on in the minors for a few years after.  He made a quick stop in Hollywood in 1955 trying to catch on with the Pirates but a .111 average did nothing to get him back to the big leagues.

Gene Freese:
Gene Freese was sort of a journeyman ballplayer.  He made stops with the Pirates, Cardinals, Phillies and White Sox before landing with the Reds where he made his biggest impact. The 1961 Reds were the first Cincinatti NL Champs since 1940 and Freese was a major part of that.  Freese had a 12 year career in the majors but was never really able to stick with one team.  Early in his career while trying to stick with the Pirates he made a stop in Hollywood.  In 68 games there he hit only  .274 but hit 11 Home Runs and drove in 36.  It was enough to get him called up to the Pirates.

The Pacific Coast League started play in 1887.  The league disappeared and returned in 1898 for one season.  What year did the Pacific Coast League establish themselves as an annual league?

Answer to Last Week's Question:
There are very few teams in the league who have never reached the World Series.  Even teams like the Padres, Brewers and Rockies who are often overlooked for their success have reached the World Series at least once in their history.

The Montreal Expos joined the National League in 1969, the same year as the San Diego Padres.  The Expos reached the post season in 1981 when they lost to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLCS and came very close to playoff berths several other years as well.  Unfortunately, following the 1994 strike the Expos experienced a steady decline.  Eventually they moved to Washington and became the Nationals.  The Nationals reached the NLDS in 2012 but failed to advance.  They reached the playoffs again in 2014 but lost to the Giants in the NLDS.

The Seattle Mariners joined the American League in 1977.  From their entrance in the league until 1994 the team was the joke of the league.  In 1995 the team made a miraculous comeback while the Angels collapsed and the Mariners made their first post season appearance.  After beating the Yankees in one of the greatest post season series of all time the M's lost to the Indians in the ALCS.

The Mariners reached the ALDS in 1997 but were beaten by a strong Orioles team.  They would reach the ALCS in 2000 and 2001 but lost to the Yankees both seasons.  The Mariners have not reached the post season since 2001.

1 comment:

  1. I don't know any of these people, but I did find it interesting to read about the old Hollywood team. Maybe I missed it, but why didn't they just stay on and be a 2nd L.A. team along with the Dodgers?


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