Roy Smalley, Jr.

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Roy Smalley
Roy Smalley 1953.jpg
Smalley in 1953.
Born: (1926-06-09)June 9, 1926
Springfield, Missouri
Died: October 22, 2011(2011-10-22) (aged 85)
Sahuarita, Arizona
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
April 20, 1948 for the Chicago Cubs
Last MLB appearance
April 21, 1958 for the Philadelphia Phillies
Career statistics
Batting average .227
Home runs 61
Runs batted in 305

Roy Frederick Smalley, Jr. (June 9, 1926 – October 22, 2011) was a shortstop in Major League Baseball. From 1948 through 1958, Smalley played for the Chicago Cubs (1948–1953), Milwaukee Braves (1954) and Philadelphia Phillies (1955–1958). He batted and threw right-handed. In an 11-season career, Smalley was a .227 hitter with 61 home runs and 305 RBI in 872 games played. Smalley was the father of fellow major league shortstop Roy Smalley III.

Early career[edit]

Smalley was signed at age 17 by the Cubs as an amateur free agent out of Springfield Catholic High School. He began his professional career that season with the Los Angeles Angels of the Pacific Coast League, where he batted just .188 in 61 games. After missing a year while serving in World War II, Smalley was moved down to the Shelby Cubs for the 1946 season. By the end of the year, he was back with the Angels.

In 1947, Smalley spent the entire season with the class-A Des Moines Bruins, where he batted .244 in 114 games. He was impressive enough that in 1948 he was given the starting shortstop job with the major league Cubs, replacing incumbent Lennie Merullo, who was sent to the minors himself for the season. Smalley remained the Cubs' primary shortstop for the remainder of his tenure with the team.

1950: An eventful year[edit]

Smalley's best season statistically was 1950. He posted career highs in home runs (21), RBI (85), runs (58), hits (128) and doubles (21), including hitting for the cycle on June 28. He struck out a league-leading 114 times. He made 51 errors (the last time a player made at least 50), but he also led NL shortstops in total chances per game, as he had in 1949, and in double plays.

During the 1950 season, Smalley married Jolene Mauch, sister of former teammate Gene Mauch, in Brookline, Massachusetts while the team was in Boston playing the Boston Braves on August 5. Smalley played a game later that day, going 0-for-5.[1] Their son Roy III, born in 1952, went on to play shortstop himself, playing for several teams from 1975 until 1987, including several years for the Minnesota Twins when Mauch was their manager.

Replaced by Mr. Cub[edit]

Smalley was also the last regular shortstop for the Cubs prior to the debut of "Mr. Cub", Ernie Banks. Smalley appeared in 77 games at short during the 1953 season, more than any other Cubs player. Banks debuted on September 17 and started the last 10 games of the season. Smalley was traded to the Braves the following February for pitcher Dave Cole.

Retirement and managerial career[edit]

After being released by the Phillies in 1958, Smalley played for a while longer in the minor leagues, retiring after the 1960 season, which he spent with the Spokane Indians in the Los Angeles Dodgers organization. He was named manager of the class-C Reno Silver Sox in 1961, and he managed the team to a first-place finish in the California League in his first season. In 1962, the team slipped into a tie for third place, and Smalley was let go.

See also[edit]