Oscar Stanage

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Oscar Stanage
Oscar Stanage 1911.jpg
Catcher
Born: (1883-03-17)March 17, 1883
Tulare, California
Died: November 11, 1964(1964-11-11) (aged 81)
Detroit, Michigan
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
May 19, 1906 for the Cincinnati Reds
Last MLB appearance
June 17, 1925 for the Detroit Tigers
Career statistics
Batting average .234
Hits 819
RBI 321
Teams
Career highlights and awards
  • Holds All Time American League Record for Assists by a Catcher, with 212 in 1911
  • Played in the 1909 World Series and had 2 RBIs.
  • In 1925, he was the second oldest player in the American League at age 42
  • His 1,381 assists as a catcher is among the Top 20 of all time

Oscar Harland Stanage (March 17, 1883 – November 11, 1964) was a Major League Baseball catcher. Born in Tulare, California, Stanage played fourteen seasons in the Major Leagues, primarily with the Detroit Tigers. He had one at bat with the Cincinnati Reds in 1906 before playing with the Tigers for thirteen years.

Second Most Games Caught for the Detroit Tigers[edit]

Stanage joined the Tigers in 1909 and eventually replaced Boss Schmidt as Detroit's regular catcher. Stanage caught more games for the Detroit Tigers than any catcher except Bill Freehan. The Top 3 in games caught for the Tigers are:

  1. Bill Freehan - 1,581 (1961–1976)
  2. Oscar Stanage - 1,074 (1909–1920, 1925)
  3. Lance Parrish - 1,039 (1977–1986)

Stanage's Cannon Arm: American League Record for Assists[edit]

Though not a strong hitter, Stanage was known to have a cannon arm, and threw out more runners than any other American League catcher in the 1910s. "Shoeless" Joe Jackson and Hall of Famer Ty Cobb both considered Stanage to be the league's best catcher.

In 1911, Stanage set the American League record (which still stands) for assists by a catcher, with 212. He led the league in assists by a catcher in 1911 (212), 1912 (168), and 1914 (190). Stanage had over 100 assists at the catcher position for 7 straight years from 1910-1916. He collected 1,045 assists in 738 games over that 7-year stretch, an average of 1.42 assists per game. His career average of 1.29 assists per game is the 5th best in Major League history, behind Duke Farrell, Red Dooin, Johnny Kling, and Bill Killefer. Stanage also led the league in double plays by a catcher in 1912 with 14.

While Stanage's arm made him one of the greatest catchers of all time in assists, his gloved hand was not as reliable. Stanage has the dubious distinction of having 3 of the Top 10 single season error totals by a catcher in the 20th Century. His 41 errors in 1911 was the most by a catcher for the 20th Century. His totals of 32 and 30 errors in 1912 and 1914 also are among the 10 worst in the 20th Century. [1]

Stanage was known as a student of the game. He was the only catcher who prevented Connie Mack's Philadelphia Athletics from stealing signs. (Mack's Athletics were notorious for stealing the opposing team's signs in 1911.)

A Weak Hitter[edit]

Stanage was a weak hitter, batting for a .234 average in 14 years. Stanage is No. 2 of all-time behind Billy Sullivan for having the lowest slugging percentage by a catcher in a single Major League season with his .233 slugging percentage in 1914. His best year as a hitter was 1911 when he hit for a .264 batting average with 27 extra base hits and 51 RBIs.

Because of his weak hitting, the Tigers were always looking for a better-hitting catcher. Each year, there was a new catcher challenging Stanage for the starting job. Eddie Ainsmith won the job in 1919 but Stanage regained the starting role in 1920. [2]

Allegations of Game Fixing and Service as Cobb's "Second"[edit]

Stanage played a role in an infamous double-header with the Chicago White Sox on September 3, 1917. The White Sox were in a pennant race and swept both games. The White Sox stole 7 bases against Stanage in the opener and 5 against Archie Yelle in the second game. Two weeks later, the White Sox collected $45 from each player as a gift for the Tigers for beating the Red Sox, but suspicion spread that the money was a payoff to the Tigers for throwing the doubleheader. [3]

Stanage also served as Ty Cobb's "second" in a fight with New York Giants' second baseman Buck Herzog. During a spring training game in 1917, Cobb was caught stealing, but sliced Herzog's trousers and drew blood with his spikes. Herzog, who had been a boxer in the Army, challenged Cobb to a fight that evening. Cobb won the fight, with Stanage as his second. (Richard Bak, Peach (2005), p. 115)

Coaching career[edit]

After the 1920 season, newly appointed player-manager Ty Cobb released Stanage, making room for Johnny Bassler as the Tigers catcher in 1921. Although Cobb did not want Stanage's bat in the lineup, he hired Stanage as a coach in 1925. Cobb allowed Stanage to play in three games in 1925, garnering 1 hit in 5 at-bats.

When Cobb left as the Tigers manager, Oscar Stanage became a coach with the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1927-1931. Stanage died in Detroit, Michigan in 1964 at age 81.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]