Al Rosen, circa 1953.
February 29, 1924 |
Spartanburg, South Carolina
|Batted: Right||Threw: Right|
|September 10, 1947 for the Cleveland Indians|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 30, 1956 for the Cleveland Indians|
|Runs batted in||717|
|Career highlights and awards|
Albert Leonard Rosen (born February 29, 1924), nicknamed "Al", "Flip", and the "Hebrew Hammer", is a former American professional baseball player who was a third baseman and right-handed slugger in the Major Leagues for ten seasons in the 1940s and 1950s.
He played his entire 10-year career (1947–1956) with the Cleveland Indians in the American League, where he drove in 100 or more runs 5 years in a row, was a 4-time All-Star, twice led the league in home runs and twice in RBIs, and was an MVP. Rosen was extremely muscular, and had tremendous power and excellent bat control.
Rosen was a .285 career hitter, with 192 home runs and 717 RBIs in 1,044 games. He was selected for the All-Star Game every year between 1952 and 1955. Rosen appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated in 1955.
Early life 
Rosen was born in Spartanburg, South Carolina, the son of Rose and Louis Rosen. He and his family moved to Miami, Florida when he was three years old. He grew up in the southwest section of Miami, which is now the heart of Little Havana. Rosen grew up without a father, and was raised by three women: his grandmother, mother and aunt.
Rosen suffered from asthma as a child, which prompted his family to move further south. While growing up, his two favorite baseball players were Lou Gehrig and Hank Greenberg. After graduating from Florida Military Academy in St. Petersburg, Florida, Rosen enrolled in the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida, where he played for the Florida Gators baseball team in 1941-42. He left the university after his second semester to play minor league baseball.
Rosen enlisted in 1942, and spent 4 years in the U.S. Navy fighting in the Pacific during World War II, delaying his professional baseball career. He navigated an assault boat in the initial landing on Okinawa in the bitter battle for the island. In 1946, he left the Navy as a lieutenant and returned to his emerging baseball career.
Minor league career 
Rosen played for the 1946 Pittsfield Electrics, where he was initially given a back-up role. Upon leading the Canadian-American League in home runs (16) and RBIs (86), while batting .323, however, he became known as the "Hebrew Hammer".
Rosen played for the Oklahoma City Indians in 1947, and had one of the finest individual seasons in league history. He led all hitters in average (.349), hits (186), doubles (47), extra-base hits (83), RBIs (141), total bases (330), slugging percentage (.619), and on-base percentage (.437). He was elected Texas League MVP.
Major League Baseball career 
Rosen made his first appearance in the major leagues in 1947 at the age of 23. In 1948, Rosen played most of the year in minor leagues with the Kansas City Blues, before joining the Indians in September and winning a World Series ring following the 1948 World Series as a reserve behind regular third baseman, Ken Keltner.
When Keltner was traded in 1950, Rosen took over as the Indians' third baseman, leading the American League in home runs with 37, hitting more than any previous American League rookie. It stood as the AL rookie record until Mark McGwire surpassed it in 1987. He homered in four straight games in June, a feat not matched by an Indians rookie until Jason Kipnis did it in 2011. He also averaged a league-best homer every 15.0 at bats, and led the league as well in HBP (10). He batted .287 and had 116 runs batted in, while coming in 5th in the league with 100 walks and a .543 slugging percentage. His 100 walks were still a team rookie record for a right-handed batter, through 2010. Despite his home run title, he only came in 17th in the American League MVP Award voting.
In 1951 he led the league in games played, and was 5th in the league in RBIs (102), extra-base hits (55), and walks (85). He batted .265, with 24 home runs. He hit four grand slams, a team season record that was not broken until Travis Hafner hit five in 2006.
Rosen led the American League with 105 RBIs and 297 total bases in 1952. He also was 3rd in the league in runs (101) and slugging percentage (.524), 5th in hits (171) and doubles (32), 6th in home runs (28), and 7th in batting average (.302). On April 29, he matched the team record, which still stood through 2010, of three home runs in one game. Still, he only came in 10th in the American League MVP Award voting.
In 1953, Rosen led the American League in home runs (43), runs batted in (145; still a record for an Indian third baseman, through 2010), runs (115), slugging percentage (.613), and total bases (367). He also came in second in OBP, and third in hits (201), and tied for 8th in stolen bases. He also had a 20-game hitting streak. Defensively, he had the best range factor of all third basemen in the league (3.32), and led it in assists (338) and double plays (38).
He batted .336, and missed winning the batting title – and with it the Triple Crown – on the last day of the season—by less than a percentage point. Still, his overall excellence was enough to earn him the American League MVP Award by an unprecedented unanimous vote.
In 1954 he hit an even .300, led the league in sacrifice flies with 11, was 4th in SP (.506), and 5th in home runs (24), RBI (102), and obp (.404). He also hit consecutive home runs in the All-Star game despite a broken finger, earning him the game MVP. His five home runs in the game matched the record set by Ted Williams five years earlier, which still stood through the 2011 season.
Hall of Fame manager Casey Stengel said of him: "That young feller, that feller's a ball player. He'll give you the works every time. Gets all the hits, gives you the hard tag in the field. That feller's a real competitor, you bet your sweet curse life." Cleveland won the pennant, but lost the World Series. In spite of Rosen's 5th straight year with 100 or more RBIs Cleveland cut his $42,500 ($363,300 today) salary to $37,500 ($321,400 today) for 1955.
In 1955 Rosen was in the top 10 in the league in at-bats per home run, walks, and sacrifice flies.
By 1956 back problems and leg injuries caught up with Rosen and he retired at just 32 at the end of the season.
Later life 
Rosen re-entered baseball 20 years later as a MLB executive. He was president (and chief operating officer) of the Yankees (1978–79), then the Astros (1980–85), then president and general manager of the Giants (1985–92). His maneuvering brought San Francisco from last place in 1985 to the NL West title in 1987 and the NL Pennant in 1989.
Rosen's wife of 19 years, the former Teresa (Terry) Ann Blumberg, died on May 3, 1971; he has been married to his second wife, Rita (née Kallman), for over 37 years. He has three sons, Robert in Lake Mary, Florida, Andy in New York and Jim in Los Angeles, as well as a stepdaughter, Gail, and a stepson, David. He also has four grandchildren. His son Andy is a musician who performs under the stage name Goat. Rosen occasionally consults for baseball teams, including a stint with the Yankees as special assistant to the general manager in 2001 and 2002. He was featured in the 2010 movie narrated by Dustin Hoffman called Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story.
Jewish heritage 
Rosen was tough, an amateur boxer, and had a reputation for standing up to anyone who dared insult his ancestry.
Rosen told the author Roger Kahn that as a young player in the minors he had moments when he wished his name were not as obviously Jewish as Rosen. But after he became a major league star, he actually considered changing his name to Rosenthal or Rosenstein so that no one could possibly mistake him for anything but a Jew.
In 1951, the television impresario Ed Sullivan, in his popular newspaper column, wrote about Rosen: "Of Jewish parentage, he is Catholic. At the plate, you'll notice he makes the sign of the cross with his bat." Enraged, Rosen insisted on a full and public retraction, pointing out that the mark he always made with his bat was the letter "x."
|“||When I was up in the majors, I always knew how I wanted it to be about me. . . . Here comes one Jewish kid that every Jew in the world can be proud of.||”|
—Al Rosen, on being a Jew in Major League Baseball.
Once a White Sox opponent called him a "Jew bastard." Sox pitcher Saul Rogovin, also Jewish, remembered an angry Rosen striding belligerently to the dugout and challenging the "son of a bitch" to a fight. The player backed down.
Rosen challenged an opposing player who had "slurred [his] religion" to fight him under the stands. When a Red Sox catcher called Rosen anti-Semitic names, he called time and "started toward him, to take him on." Hank Greenberg recalled that Rosen "want[ed] to go into the stands and murder" fans who hurled anti-Semitic insults at him. The 2010 documentary Jews and Baseball: An American Love Story highlights Rosen, who in it is frank about how he dealt with anti-Semitism: "There's a time that you let it be known that enough is enough. . . . You flatten [them]."
During his career, Rosen declined to play on the High Holy Days.
In a 1976 Esquire magazine article, sportswriter Harry Stein published an "All Time All-Star Argument Starter," consisting of five ethnic baseball teams. Rosen was the third baseman on Stein's Jewish team.
Through 2010, he was fourth in career home runs (behind Sid Gordon), sixth in RBIs (behind Lou Boudreau), and eighth in hits (behind Mike Lieberthal) among all-time Jewish major league baseball players.
- "The greatest thrill in the world is to end the game with a home run and watch everybody else walk off the field while you're running the bases on air."
- "Oh no, Al Rosen hits a home run and I gotta miss it!" —Bob Hope on "I Love Lucy", aired October 1, 1956
- Member of the Cleveland Indians Hall of Fame (2006).
- Member of the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame (1980).
- Member of the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame.
- Member of the Texas League Hall of Fame (2005).
See also 
- Cleveland Indians all-time roster
- Florida Gators
- List of Florida Gators baseball players
- List of New York Yankees owners and executives
- List of select Jewish baseball players
- "The Baseball Biography Project". Bioproj.Sabr.Org. Retrieved April 9, 2010.
- Great Baseball Feats, Facts and Figures, 2008 Edition, p.346, David Nemec and Scott Flatow, A Signet Book, Penguin Group, New York, NY, ISBN 978-0-451-22363-0
- "Baseball Today". Associated Press Archive. August 10, 2008.
- Hoynes, Paul (August 4, 2011). "Jason Kipnis on a HR roll: Cleveland Indians daily briefing". The Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio). Retrieved 2012-11-04.
- [dead link]
- "Cleveland Indians Records/History". Retrieved 2012-11-01.
- "Hafner hits record fifth grand slam". Reading Eagle. July 8, 2006. Retrieved 2012-11-01.
- Schlueter, Roger (July 11, 2011). "Fascinating facts about the All-Star Game". MLB.com. Retrieved 2012-11-01.
- "Sport: Top of the League". TIME. July 5, 1954. Retrieved April 9, 2010.
- "Al Rosen Facts from". The Baseball Page.com. Retrieved April 9, 2010.
- "Al Rosen – Exploded on the scene in the AL". Historicbaseball.com. Retrieved April 9, 2010.
- Sandomir, Richard (May 7, 2010). "Chronicling Steinbrenner and His Turbulent Tenure". The New York Times (New York, New York). Retrieved 2012-11-04.
- "The Ballplayers – Al Rosen". BaseballLibrary.com. Retrieved April 9, 2010.
- Dorinson, Joseph (July 2004). "JEWS and BASEBALL" (PDF). You could look it up 5 (1) (New York, New York: The Society for American Baseball Research, Casey Stengel Chapter). pp. 10–12. Retrieved 2012-11-01.
- Dick Friedman (November 25, 2002). "Faith In The Game; A new film illuminates the Jewish contribution to the national pastime". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved December 12, 2010.
- "Career Batting Leaders through 2010". Career Leaders. Jewish Major Leaguers. Retrieved February 10, 2011.
- The Gigantic Book of Baseball Quotations – Google Books. Books.google.com. Retrieved April 9, 2010.
- "1954 All-Star Game Box Score by Baseball Almanac". Baseball-almanac.com. July 13, 1954. Retrieved April 9, 2010.
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube
|American League RBI Champion
|Sporting News Major League Baseball Executive of the Year