April 4, 1916|
|Died: July 13, 2005
Mount Vernon, Missouri
|May 2, 1937 for the St. Louis Cardinals|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 11, 1954 for the Boston Red Sox|
|Runs batted in||378|
|Career highlights and awards|
Arnold Malcolm "Mickey" Owen (April 4, 1916 – July 13, 2005) was a catcher for several Major League Baseball teams. Between 1937 and 1954, Owen played for the St. Louis Cardinals (1937–40), Brooklyn Dodgers (1941–45), Chicago Cubs (1949–51) and Boston Red Sox (1954). He batted and threw right-handed.
A native of Nixa, Missouri, Owen was signed by the St. Louis Cardinals in 1935. He made his major league debut in 1937, appearing in 80 games, and spent the next three full seasons in St. Louis before being traded to the Brooklyn Dodgers for catcher Gus Mancuso, a minor league player and $60,000.
From 1941 to 1944, Owen averaged 46 RBI a season for the Dodgers and played for the Brooklyn team that faced the New York Yankees in the 1941 World Series. During that championship season, he set a then-record for most consecutive errorless fielding chances by a catcher (508) and finished with a .995 fielding average. Yet ironically, Owen is most remembered in baseball lore for a costly error that he committed during that year's World Series. The Yankees held a 2-games-to-1 lead entering Game 4 on October 5 at the Dodgers' home field, Ebbets Field. With the Dodgers leading 4–3 and 2 outs for the Yankees in the top of the ninth inning and the count 3–2 on Tommy Henrich, Henrich swung and missed at strike 3, which would have been the final out of the game, but the ball eluded Owen and went to the backstop, allowing Henrich to make it safely to first base. The Yankees then rallied and scored four runs in the remainder of the inning and won the game 7–4. Instead of the series being tied, the victory gave the Yankees a 3–1 lead. The next day, they beat the Dodgers 3–1 in Game 5 and won the World Championship. The Dodgers didn’t return to the World Series until 1947 and didn’t win the series until 1955.
A four-consecutive All-Star from 1941 to 1944, in 1942 Owen became the first player to pinch-hit a home run in an All-Star game, and during the 1944 regular season, he became the third National League catcher to ever record an unassisted double play. Owen played for Brooklyn until the end of the 1945 season. He then served in the Navy at the end of World War II.
After his discharge from the military in 1946, Owen expected to return to Brooklyn, but he failed to reach an agreement with the Dodgers and signed a contract to be a player-manager in the Mexican League. There were several other big leaguers who fled to Mexico, including Alex Carrasquel, Danny Gardella, Max Lanier, Sal Maglie, Luis Olmo and Vern Stephens, attracted by good salaries. In retaliation for the defections, Commissioner Happy Chandler sought a lifetime suspension for them, but his penalty was later reduced to three years.
Owen returned to the majors in 1949 with the Chicago Cubs and played for them until the 1951 season. He finished his major league playing career with the Boston Red Sox in 1954.
Following his retirement as a player, Owen spent two seasons (1955–56) as a Red Sox coach, then worked for the Cubs as a scout. He returned to the Ozarks and founded the Mickey Owen Baseball School on Route 66 near Miller, Missouri, in 1959. Owen sold the school in 1963, but remained an instructor until the 1980s. Notable alumni include Michael Jordan, Joe Girardi and Charlie Sheen.
In 1964, Owen ran for Greene County sheriff and won. He also won three more elections, serving in the office until 1981. Owen ran for Lt. Governor of Missouri in 1980 and finished third with 13% and 79038 votes. Owen was still playing in old timers' games in the 1980s.
In popular culture
In his 1942 book Many Happy Returns: An Unofficial Guide to Your Income Tax Problems, Groucho Marx — a lifelong Dodgers fan — referenced Owens's infamous World Series error:
|“||I wrote this book because I had to. It was a creative urge—the same thing that prompted Beethoven to compose the Eighth Symphony. This was actually a patchwork job, adding together snatches of the Third and Fifth, thus making the Eighth. The Ninth was when Catcher Owen dropped the ball and the World Series, but I'd rather not discuss it, because it cost me $14, not deductible.||”|
- Owen nearly in tears in Dodgers dressing room
- Marx, Groucho (1942). Many Happy Returns: An Unofficial Guide to Your Income Tax Problems. Simon and Schuster. p. 12. ASIN B0007E5U1I.
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference, or Baseball-Reference (Minors), or Retrosheet
- Baseball Library – Profile and chronology
- Baseball's 25 Greatest Moments: Mickey Owen and the Dropped Third Strike
- Big Sports Heritage Series
- MLB Photo Gallery – Owen’s passed ball
- Mickey Owen Baseball School web site
- Mickey Owen at Find a Grave