Morrie Arnovich

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Morrie Arnovich
Morrie Arnovich 1940 Play Ball card.jpeg
Leftfielder
Born: November 16, 1910
Superior, Wisconsin
Died: July 20, 1959(1959-07-20) (aged 48)
Superior, Wisconsin
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
September 14, 1936 for the Philadelphia Phillies
Last MLB appearance
April 21, 1946 for the New York Giants
Career statistics
Batting average .287
Runs scored 234
Putouts 1,260
Teams
Career highlights and awards

Morrie (Morris) Arnovich, known as Snooker,[1][2][3] (November 16, 1910 – July 20, 1959) was a stocky Major League Baseball outfielder. He was a line drive hitter and he played seven seasons for the Philadelphia Phillies, the Cincinnati Reds and the New York Giants between 1936, and 1941, and again for one game in 1946.

One of the most religious Jewish major leaguers, Arnovich kept kosher his whole life.[1] Arnovich was a two-time All-Wisconsin basketball star at the University of Wisconsin–Superior.

Baseball career[edit]

Arnovich in 1940

Arnovich's professional baseball career began at age 22 with the Superior Blues, the champions of the newly revived Northern League in 1933.[1] A shortstop that year, he hit .331 and slugged .495 with 17 steals. He was fifth in average and fourth in homers, with 14. His .918 fielding was best of any shortstop with 50 or more games that season, and he made the unofficial All-Star team listed by the Spalding Guide. Returning to Superior in 1934, Arnovich hit .374 to take the Northern League batting title, and his 21 homers tied for fifth. He hit three homers in one game that year.

The Philadelphia Phillies purchased his contract in 1935, and assigned him to the Hazleton Mountaineers of the New York–Pennsylvania League. He hit .305 that year.

In 1936, he hit .327 with 19 homers and 109 RBIs. He tied for the league lead in homers and was one RBI off of the top pace. He got a cup of coffee with the Phils that season and hit .313 in late-season action. By this time Arnovich had moved to the outfield, and he would not play any other position in the Major Leagues. He primarily played left field.

In 1937, he hit .290 and had a career-high five double plays from the outfield. In 1938, he had a career-high 18 outfield assists, third of all outfielders in the league.[4] He was referred to as the "Son of Israel", or the "Next Jewish Star".[5]

When Phil Weintraub entered the armed forces, it was anticipated that Arnovich would take his place only on a temporary basis.[6] His hitting suggested otherwise, however.[6] In 1939 he was the top contact hitter in the National League most of the season before fading late and still finishing fifth in the league with a .324 batting average.[5] He was 6th in OBP (.398), made the NL All-Star team in his best season. He came in 18th in MVP voting.

At the age of 29, Arnovich was traded to the Cincinnati Reds for Johnny Rizzo in June 1940 and had a disappointing season, though he continued to hit for solid contact (.284); he failed to homer and his lack of power was not good for an outfielder. He made his only World Series appearance that season. He was sold to the New York Giants in December 1940, and had a .280 batting average in 85 games.

Arnovich tried to volunteer for the United States Army, but was turned down because he was missing a pair of molars. He got false teeth and volunteered again after Pearl Harbor this time he was permitted in and spent the next four years in the Army. While in the Army, Arnovich played for and managed the Fort Lewis baseball team, before becoming a postal clerk in New Guinea.[1]

Out of condition and now 35 years old, Morrie played in one game for the New York Giants in 1946 and was sent down to the Jersey City Giants, where he went 5 for 25 in 10 games before being released in June 1946. In 1947 Arnovich hit in the .370s in the Three-I League and Western Association, then batted .353 in limited time in the 1948 Southeastern League before retiring at the age of 37.

Through 2010, he was ninth all-time in career batting average (ahead of Shawn Green) among Jewish major league baseball players.[7]

After baseball[edit]

Arnovich coached basketball for a Catholic high school in Superior after retiring, then ran a jewelry store and a sporting goods store.[1] It was reported in the Superior Evening Telegram in 1949 that Arnovich, who had managed in the Cubs minor league organization,[1] had signed on as a referee in the new National Basketball Association. It is not known if he actually served as an NBA referee in its inaugural season.

Death[edit]

On July 20, 1959, he died of a coronary occlusion at his home shortly after his third wedding anniversary. Arnovich is buried in the Hebrew Cemetery in Superior, Wisconsin.[1]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g Berger, Ralph. "Morrie Arnovich". SABR. Retrieved 2008-01-27. 
  2. ^ The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract. Retrieved February 16, 2011. 
  3. ^ "Pete McEntegart: A walking Encyclopedia". Sports Illustrated. June 9, 2004. Retrieved February 16, 2011. 
  4. ^ "Morrie Arnovich Statistics and History". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved February 16, 2011. 
  5. ^ a b Ellis Island to Ebbets Field: Sport and the American Jewish Experience. Retrieved February 16, 2011. 
  6. ^ a b The Big Book of Jewish Sports Heroes: An Illustrated Compendium of Sports History and The 150 Greatest Jewish Sports Stars. SP Books. 2007. Retrieved February 16, 2011. 
  7. ^ "Career Batting Leaders through 2010". Career Leaders. Jewish Major Leaguers. Retrieved February 10, 2011. 

External links[edit]