Monday, January 6, 2014

Sleater wrote his ticket back to bigs

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.

Persistence—and perhaps penmanship—seems to have earned Lou Sleater his chance in the major leagues after six seasons pitching in the minors.

Sleater was acquired by the St. Louis Browns on waivers from the N.Y. Giant after spring training in 1950. He had a 12-5 record with San Antonio, the Browns' Texas League affiliate, in 1950. 

After having pitched a single inning for St. Louis in 1950, Sleater was with the Browns from late April through July in 1951, working himself to a 1-9 record before being sent out on loan to the Yankees' Kansas City farm club in the American Association for the remainder of 1951, winning four and losing two.

To make sure that Browns owner Bill Veeck didn’t forget him, Sleater kept up a constant correspondence between K.C. and St. Louis.

Before the 1952 season got under way, Veeck described how Sleater had kept in touch. “Realizing that I was greatly interested in his pitching,” Veeck said, “Lou wrote me a letter after every game he pitched, telling me just how he fared, what he did right and what he did wrong. He also enclosed clippings from the daily newspapers to back him up.

“Even when he lost, which was seldom, Sleater wrote me. Believe me, that boy was interested in his work and wanted to make sure that I was, too. And, incidentally, I was—and if he doesn’t make the grade with our club, I’ll be terribly disappointed.” 

As it turned out, Sleater did return to the majors with Veeck’s Browns in 1952, but only for four games (0-1 record) before being traded to the Washington Senators.

While with Washington, Sleater was the pitcher that halted Walt Dropo's record-setting streak of 12 hits in 12 consecutive at-bats. In relief, he gave up Dropo's third hit of the second game of a July 15 doubleheader, a double in the fifth inning, before inducing him to foul out to the catcher in the seventh.

Though Sleater was 4-2 for the Senators in 1952, he spent the entire 1953 and 1954 seasons in the minors.

He returned to the majors in 1955 with Kansas City, spent 1956 with the Braves, went to the Tigers in 1957 and split 1958 with Detroit and the Orioles before leaving pro ball.

Despite pitching in all or parts of seven seasons in the major leagues 1950-58, Sleater only had three career-contemporary mainstream baseball cards, 1952-53 Topps with the Senators and 1958 as a Tiger.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Your comments, criticism, additional information, questions, etc., are welcome . . . as long as they are germane to the original topic. All comments are moderated before they are allowed to appear and spam comments are deleted before they ever appear. No "Anonymous User" comments are allowed.