Specs Toporcer, in 1921. Source: American Memory: Chicago Daily News.
February 9, 1899|
New York, New York
|Died: May 17, 1989
Huntington Station, New York
|Batted: Left||Threw: Right|
|April 13, 1921 for the St. Louis Cardinals|
|Last MLB appearance|
|June 2, 1928 for the St. Louis Cardinals|
|Runs batted in||151|
George Toporczer [played as Toporcer] (February 9, 1899 – May 17, 1989) was a professional baseball player and executive. He served primarily as a utility infielder during his eight seasons in Major League Baseball, playing for the St. Louis Cardinals from 1921 through 1928. He batted left-handed and threw right-handed. Toporcer is widely considered as the first major league baseball position player to wear eyeglasses on the playing field.
Born and reared in the Yorkville section of Manhattan, Toporcer never played high school, college or minor league ball. He went directly from sandlot baseball to major league competition.[unreliable source?] He split his first professional season between the Cardinals and the minor league Syracuse Stars.
In an eight-season career, Toporcer was a .279 hitter with nine home runs and 151 RBI in 546 games. As a fielder, he appeared in 453 games at shortstop (249), second base (105), third base (95), first base (3) and right field (1).
Minor league player-manager
Following his major league career, Toporcer played for the Cardinals Triple-A affiliate Rochester on four straight pennant-winning teams (1929–32), being named the International League MVP in 1929 and 1930. He became the Red Wings' manager in 1932, continuing to play and manage the team until 1934. He continued to play in the minors until 1941, typically serving as a player-manager.
Toporcer later served as the director of minor league operations for the Boston Red Sox, and also worked with the Chicago White Sox. In 1944, Toporcer wrote an autobiography, Baseball – From Backlots to Big Leagues, still considered one of the best manuals of instruction for coaches and young players.
In 1951, while managing the Buffalo Bisons, Toporcer became blind after a fifth operation to save his failing eyesight was unsuccessful. His life story was featured in a network TV show in which he played the lead.
Toporcer died in Huntington Station, New York at the age of 90.
- Branch Rickey once told this story about Specs Toporcer: A 19-year-old boy who weighed 142 pounds and never had played a game of pro ball came off the field at Orange, New Jersey. I watched this kid and saw him take off his glasses and, with his hands outstretched, grope his way along the wall to the showers. My captain turned to me and said, For God's sake, who sent him up? - Norman L. Macht, baseball writer and statistician