Thursday, May 30, 2013

Pepper Martin's unusal runs record

Uncommon commons: In more than 30 years in sportscards publishing I have thrown hundreds of notes into files about the players – usually non-star players – who made up the majority of the baseball and football cards I collected as a kid. Today, I keep adding to those files as I peruse microfilms of The Sporting News from the 1880s through the 1960s. I found these tidbits brought some life to the player pictures on those cards. I figure that if I enjoyed them, you might too.

Many baseball fans and collectors know Pepper Martin as one of the key players of the St. Louis Cardinals’ Gashouse Gang dynasty of the 1930s.

He had lifetime major league batting average of  .298 while generally holding down center field and third base for the Cardinals. Some feel is one of the players of his era most deserving of Hall of Fame consideration.

He was a four-time All-Star and the league three times in stolen bases, and once in runs scored.

I was surprised to find that for all his achievements later in his career, Martin had the unusual distinction in his first two years (1928 and 1930) with St. Louis of having more runs scored than at-bats.

Frequently used as a pinch-runner early in his career, in 1928 Martin had 13 at-bats in 39 games, and scored 11 runs.

In 1929, Martin spent the season in Texas League, hitting .298 for Houston.

Back with the Cardinals for six games in 1930, Martin had one at-bat and scored five times. 

Overall, in 1928 and 1930, Martin had 14 at-bats, four base hits (a .286 average), and scored 16 runs.

He played 13 seasons with St. Louis (1928, 1930-40, 1944), hitting a lifetime .298, leading the league three times in stolen bases, and being named an All-Star four times.

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