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Browns pitcher John M. Stivers

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  • Browns pitcher John M. Stivers

    I am looking for information on Browns pitcher John (Jack) Stivers. He is not in the Baseball Encyclopedia because he never appeared in a game. I know the following: A copy of his contract card from the Baseball Hall of Fame indicates he signed with the Browns in July, 1947, and was optioned to Elmira in April, 1948. He was one of two 18 year old pitchers the Browns signed during the summer of '47, the other, Sherman Swartz, did get into a few games. A September 7, 1947 scorecard lists Stivers as a pitcher, wearing number 22. He appears in the team photo in the 1947 Baseball Register, and George Brace even took a individual photo. The 1948 Browns Roster/Schedule also lists him as a pitcher on the spring traing roster, but again he did not appear in a regular season game.

    I think that this must have been one of the most frustrating experiences a ballplayer could have. He went directly to the majors at 18 and then never got into a game, and he was sent to the minors the following season and never made it back. If anyone knows the story behind this situation, I would like to hear it.

  • #2
    another never-answered question.

    Fitz -

    Jack Stivers was on the 1949 rosters of both Pine Bluff of the Class C Cotton States League and Olean of the Class D PONY League. Stivers apparently did sign with the Browns because both of the afforementioned teams were part of the 1949 Browns' farm system. According to the Professional Baseball Players Database disk, Jack either rarely pitched or was extremely good for a short span in each city. From the meager stats that PBPD shows, and the fact that this was it for Jack Stivers as a pro, I'm betting on the former. His record is shown at 0-0 with an ERA of 0.00 in each place.

    That's all I can tell you.

    - Bill McCurdy
    Last edited by Bill_McCurdy; 12-02-2007, 11:33 AM.
    "Our fans never booed us. - They wouldn't dare. - We outnumbered 'em." ... Browns Pitcher Ned Garver.

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    • #3
      Here is a quote from the The Elmira Advertiser, July 22, 1947:

      "Jack Stivers, the Corning youngster recently signed by the Browns, held the Pioneers scoreless in the fifth and sixth but the home forces averted a shutout by punching a couple of runs across against Bud Swartz, the young Californian who is ticketed for a berth with one of the minor league farm clubs."

      The Browns were in Elmira, NY (7-21-1947) for an exhibition game against their farm team while en route to face the Yankees in New York. The Browns won it 4 to 2.

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      • #4
        Does anyone know if Jack Stivers is still alive?

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        • #5
          Jack Stivers, St. Louis Browns, 1947

          Jack Stivers died 30 Sep 1986, East Rochester, Monroe County, New York. He fathered five daughters.

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          • #6
            I met a man earlier this year by the name of Bill Hockenbury who was in a similar situation. He was called up by the Philadelphia A's and sat on the bench the entire time he was called up, never to play in a game. One time the manager called for him to pinch-run and as he got up, the manager realized he called the wrong guy and sent him back to the bench ending his chance to get in a major league game.

            Originally posted by fitz View Post
            The 1948 Browns Roster/Schedule also lists him as a pitcher on the spring traing roster, but again he did not appear in a regular season game.

            I think that this must have been one of the most frustrating experiences a ballplayer could have. He went directly to the majors at 18 and then never got into a game, and he was sent to the minors the following season and never made it back. If anyone knows the story behind this situation, I would like to hear it.
            Baseball Happenings
            - Linking baseball's past, present and future.
            http://baseballhappenings.blogspot.com

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            • #7
              Wow. That was a near miss. As many of us have literal dreams of being sent in to a pro game (for me, the manager is always Whitey Herzog) ... to be on the bench and never get in ... is a nightmare.

              I feel sorry for Stivers too. You might check to see if "superscout" Jim Russo's name is on the contract at the HofF. That would be one "claim to fame."

              Originally posted by metrotheme View Post
              I met a man earlier this year by the name of Bill Hockenbury who was in a similar situation. He was called up by the Philadelphia A's and sat on the bench the entire time he was called up, never to play in a game. One time the manager called for him to pinch-run and as he got up, the manager realized he called the wrong guy and sent him back to the bench ending his chance to get in a major league game.

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              • #8
                The question remaining is, why do we not have any minor-league stats for him for either 1947 or 1948?

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                • #9
                  He was probably in military service those years.

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                  • #10
                    Then what is he doing pitching in a midseason exhibition game in 1947, and on the team photo of 1947? On leave? How heavy was the draft after the surrender of Japan in August 1945?
                    Originally posted by Macker View Post
                    He was probably in military service those years.

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                    • #11
                      The draft wasn't heavy at all after 1945 and even less so in 1947. Doesn't mean he wasn't in the service. Perhaps he was injured and was a 'less-than' player, who did not appear in enough games to have his stats in the yearly guides.

                      This page has him with Port Chester in 1948.
                      http://www.blueeyesbluebonnets.com/s...ster-clippers/

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                      • #12
                        The August 27, 1947 Sporting News has him relieving Bob Muncrief, issuing six walks, in an exhibition game against the Springfield Illinois club. But the Browns only lost 4-3.

                        So that is two exhibition games he was used in. Maybe he was on roster just for exhibition games shades of today's shuttling people up from AAA just to "save arms".

                        We have run into this phenomenon of pitchers being on roster and not being used several times: Earl Jones, Al LaMacchia and (maybe) Ray Campbell and Bill Seinsoth Sr. in 1944. Not sure why. Batting practice pitcher??

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                        • #13
                          Here's what I found on Stivers in a brief check:
                          - Enrolled at Valparaiso following the 1947. He was not allowed to join the baseball team as he was a professional.
                          - Was among returning players listed who signed contracts with the Browns on Feb. 5, 1948
                          - Mentioned as a returning player to the team in article previewing the team prior to an exhibition game against Hardin College.
                          - Threw a shutout (striking out 8) for Port Chester on Aug. 12, 1948. The article mentions he was recently sent down by the Browns.
                          - Port Chester won the championship that year in the Colonial League. http://www.blueeyesbluebonnets.com/w...erClippers.jpg

                          And now you've made me late for work.
                          Last edited by dave_heller; 09-26-2014, 07:53 AM.

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                          • #14
                            Interesting...
                            http://www.ebay.com/itm/JACK-STIVERS.../181561982296?
                            jackstivers.jpg
                            "If I drink whiskey, I'll never get worms!" - Hack Wilson

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                            • #15
                              Stivers was with the Browns for the second half of the 1947 season, probably getting signed after his high school graduation. In July of 1947 the Browns signed two other teenagers, Sherman Swartz and Perry Currin. Stivers was probably just a warm body with the Browns, taking up a roster spot at a low salary. Swartz and Currin got into the lineup because of injuries to other players. These three sound like an early version of the Bonus Babies of 1953-57.

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