Pearson in 1959.
September 12, 1934 |
|April 14, 1958, for the Washington Senators|
|Last MLB appearance|
|July 16, 1966, for the California Angels|
|Runs batted in||214|
|Career highlights and awards|
Albert Gregory ("Albie") Pearson (born September 12, 1934) is a former Major League Baseball (MLB) center fielder who played with the Washington Senators (1958–59), Baltimore Orioles (1959–60), and Los Angeles/California Angels (1961–66). One of the smallest MLB players of his era, he stood 5 feet 6 inches (1.68 m) tall, weighed 140 pounds (64 kg), and batted and threw left-handed. During his rookie season with the Senators, he was the shortest player in the major leagues.
Pearson pitched for the baseball team and played halfback for the football team at El Monte High School. Following a year at Pomona Junior College, he was signed by the Boston Red Sox as an amateur free agent in 1953.
Following his signing, which amounted to little else besides two pair of cleats, a new suitcase, and a promise of making $225 a month if he made the team, Pearson was assigned to the San Jose Red Sox of the Class-C California League, where he hit .334 in 125 games. Although signed as a pitcher, Pearson was converted to the outfield, after filling in on an emergency capacity and getting 8 hits in his first two games, and did little pitching during his minor league career.
Promoted to single-A Albany Senators in the Eastern League in 1954, he hit .269 and earned a two-game promotion to play for the AAA Louisville Colonels. Person spent 1955 back at single-A, this time hitting .305 for the Montgomery Rebels in the South Atlantic League. He split 1956 between the San Francisco Seals in the open Pacific Coast League and the Oklahoma City Indians in the AA Texas League, hitting well throughout the season and finishing with a combined .358 batting average with 7 home runs, 46 RBI, 6 triples, and 36 doubles. He had 91 walks and only 41 strikeouts in 153 games, and won the Texas League batting championship. Pearson was back with the Seals in 1957 and continued to hit, hitting .297 with 5 HR, 50 RBI, 11 triples, and 22 doubles.
On January 23, 1958, Pearson was sent with Norm Zauchin to the Senators in the same trade that brought infielder Pete Runnels to the Red Sox. In 1958 he won both the MLB Rookie of the Year and the TSN Rookie of the Year awards in the American League. However, Pearson got off to a rough start to the 1959 season and after hitting only .188 over the first 25 games with no home runs and only 2 RBI, he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles for center fielder Lenny Green. His 1960 season was not a big improvement over the previous year; he played in only 48 games for the Orioles.
After baseball owners approved the addition of the Los Angeles Angels in October 1960, Pearson was selected by the new franchise in the expansion draft as the 30th and last pick. In his native California, on the expansion Angels, Pearson turned around his career. In the team's first game, Pearson scored the franchise's first run, in a 7-0 win over the Orioles, and hit .288 with 7 home runs, 41 RBI, and 92 runs for the season. Pearson had his best season in 1963, when he posted career-highs in runs batted in (47), hits (173), stolen bases (17) and games played (160); led the AL in singles (161), and made the All-Star team. His .305 batting average (also a career-high), ranked him fourth in the batting crown race behind Carl Yastrzemski (.321), Al Kaline (.312) and Rich Rollins (.307).
Recurring back problems restricted Pearson's career. He retired after the 1966 season.
In his nine-year career major league career, Pearson was a .270 hitter with 28 home runs and 214 RBI in 988 games. He compiled a 2.45 walk-to-strikeout ratio (477-to-195) and a .369 on-base percentage.
Personal life and later years
Pearson and his wife Helen married in 1953. As of mid-2011, they had five daughters, 17 grandchildren, and 16 great-grandchildren.
Pearson is an ordained minister. In the 1960s, he started a Riverside youth foundation, which focused on helping children stay off drugs, founded a non-profit organization providing training for pastors and ministers, and set up churches and orphanages in Ecuador and Zambia.
In 1997, Pearson and his wife founded Father's Heart Ranch in Desert Hot Springs, California, an 11-acre (45,000 m2) home for abused, neglected and abandoned 6- to 12-year-old boys. The Pearson's Father's Heart International foundation, also set up by Pearson, was, as of mid-2011, providing food to about 4,000 Zambian children each week who had lost their parents to AIDS.
- "Albie Pearson Stats". Baseball Almanac. Retrieved 2012-10-22.
- "Former Angel Albie Pearson heard a higher calling". Orange County Register. April 9, 2011.
- "Albie Pearson". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved 2012-10-22.
- Senators, Bosox trade 3 players
- "Apr 11, 1961, Angels at Orioles Play by Play and Box Score". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved 2012-10-22.
- Peter Hartlaub (October 22, 2012). "Former S.F. Seal keeps kids safe at home". San Francisco Chronicle.