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Hank Sauer

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  • Hank Sauer

    One of the few bright spots for the Giants in 1957, was the performance of 40 year old outfielder Hank Sauer. The former NL MVP and All Star outfielder was released after the 1956 season, by the St. Louis Cardinals. Sauer only appeared in 75 games for the cards, hitting 5 hr's and 24 rbi's. In 1957 Sauer appeared in 127 games with 26 HR's and 76 RBI's. In a season that started with the aborted trade for Jackie Robinson and ended with the team moving to Frisco, sauer was a bright spot.
    Lets get Eddie Basinski elected to the Polish Sports Hall of Fame.

  • #2
    It's a shame that more people don't remember what an excellent player Sauer was for all those seasons in the '50s. Those were especially great numbers he put up when you also consider that he did most of his damage with the lowly Cubs, for whom he was the lone bright spot for many years. There was a time when 288 career home runs actually meant something and was an impressive total.


    • #3
      Sauer won the MVP award with the Cubs a perennial loser so he did get some recognition. I recall a game he pinch hit one night against Brooklyn in Jersey City. With the Dodgers leading late in the game, and Brooklyn ahead by a run, Rigney sent Sauer up to pinch hit for Danny O'Connell. The Giants had a runner on. Newcombe made the mistake of getting behind in the count. Sauer hit a 2-1 fastball to Newark to put the Giants ahead in a game they ultimately won. He played in what might be the slowest defensive outfield in history. When the Cubs acquired Ralph Kiner, their outfield consisted of Sauer in right, Frankie Baumholtz in center and Kiner in left.


      • #4
        Originally posted by GIANT
        Sauer won the MVP award with the Cubs a perennial loser so he did get some recognition.
        Sauer had a good year in '52, but the MVP Award should have gone to either Robin Roberts or Joe Black -- each of whom accounted for THIRTY PERCENT of his team's victories that year.

        Sauer's award was almost as big a mistake as Marty Marion's in '44 and Joe Gordon's in '42.


        • #5
          Originally posted by shlevine42
          Sauer had a good year in '52, but the MVP Award should have gone to either Robin Roberts or Joe Black -- each of whom accounted for THIRTY PERCENT of his team's victories that year.

          Sauer's award was almost as big a mistake as Marty Marion's in '44 and Joe Gordon's in '42.
          While I'm not necessarily disagreeing with you, I can see the valid case for Sauer.

          First of all, Black had a truly amazing season, but saves weren't officially counted then. The voters at the time didn't have the 15 saves to emphasize on paper. Yes, they should have observed his great season, but it is reinforced in retrospect by the fact that he was sixth in wins and second in saves that year. I'm wondering had they the Cy Young Award that season whether he or Roberts would have won?

          The case for Sauer, though, that to be that he had absolutely no one at all surrounding him. He put up great offensive numbers without the help of a strong supporting cast. There were only two other players on the Cubs that season that had so much as one third of the runs batted in that Sauer did. Even those two players barely had over half of Sauer's total. Overall, he accounted for over one fifth of the team's RBI that year. No one else on the team even came withing 20 runs scored of Hank. Even more amazing, though, no one else on the team came within 20 homers of Hank!!! He accounted for almost 35% of the Cubs' total that year. It's true that the Cubs did finish 19 1/2 games back of Brooklyn that year in the pennant chase, but you have to believe taht without Sauer they may have finished somewhere down near the Pirates.

          You definitely do have a point in that Roberts and Black were each deserving, but I don't see it as that huge of mistake that Sauer did won.


          • #6
            1952 was definitely Sauer's best overall year. For most of the season, the Cubs' leftfielder was ahead of Babe Ruth's pace (60 was still the record at that time), but he slowed down in the second half, allowing Pittsburgh's Ralph Kiner to tie him for the home run crown with 37.

            Sauer was the hero, though, to lead the Cubs back to respectability, a .500 finish (77-77) after finishing last in the NL 3 of the last 4 seasons. His home run was also the winning blow in the All-Star Game at Philadelphia, a 3-2 rain-shortened affair that made a winner out of Leo Durocher as the National League manager.

            Robin Roberts' 28-7 record in 1952 would have definitely earned him the Cy Young Award if there had been such an award that year. As stated, saves were not tabulated as an official statistic at that time, although Joe Black did win the Rookie of the Year Award.

            Black and the Giants' Wilhelm sort of set a precedence as "relief specialists" for their respective teams that year. At that time, it was not unusual to see starters come into the game in relief situations. Also, it was the goal of a starter to pitch a "complete game". Now all teams have relief specialists -- middle relief, closers, etc. The Giants and Dodgers may have started a trend, though, 'way back in 1952.


            • #7
              In the summer of 1944, I was on my annual "two weeks in the country" sojourn to Poughkeepsie (otherwise known as two weeks of peace and quiet for my mom). Poughkeepsie had a town team, common in those days, which played surrounding towns and barnstorming teams such as the House of David. The Poughkeepsie nine imported "ringers", also a common practice in those days. Two of those players were soldiers stationed at West Point, a slick fielding lefty first baseman named Chuck Connors and a burly outfielder named Hank Sauer, who had already played a couple of years in the "bigs'.

              Memorial Field was an open spaced ball yard, with a softball diamond located about 500 feet from home plate in center field. I remember two things about that long ago game: Connors put on a fielding show in infield practice and Sauer hit the longest ball I've ever seen. It landed just beyond the home plate of the softball diamond and the center fielder didn't even bother going after it.

              As far as the '52 MVP award goes, the Junior Circut got it right with Bobby Shantz and Black, Roberts and Sauer were likewise all worthy of the award in the NL. Not surprisingly, I'd lean towards Black, a surprise starter in Game 1 against the Yanks, but it's interesting to note that all four of those players uniquely qualify under the original intent of the award: ie. which player is the most valuable to his team. Shantz certainly with the A's, and Black and Roberts, as Steve pointed out, contributing to almost a third of their respective team's wins and Sauer, the lone tough out in the Cubs lineup, (that included Dee Fondy, Eddie Miksis, Roy Smalley and Frankie Baumholtz and those were the good hitters) plus, to me, there was that blast "heard 'round Dutchess County" in Memorial Field.
              After 1957, it seemed like we would never laugh again. Of course, we did. Its just that we were never young again.


              • #8
                Hank Sauer Interview

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