June 22, 1888|
|Died: January 21, 1965
|April 22, 1913, for the Boston Braves|
|Last MLB appearance|
|October 7, 1915, for the Boston Braves|
|Career highlights and awards|
Albert James Whaling (June 22, 1888 in Los Angeles – January 7, 1965 in Sawtelle, California) was an American professional baseball player. He played as a catcher in Major League Baseball for the Boston Braves from 1913 to 1915. Whaling batted and threw right-handed.
Whaling began his professional baseball career at the age of 20 with the Portland Beavers in 1908. He then played for the Seattle Giants from 1909 to 1911. In August 1911, he was signed by the Cleveland Naps of the American League but, didn't play at the major league level. In April 1912, Whaling was released by the Naps and returned to play for the Seattle Giants where, he posted a .264 batting average and hit 10 home runs. Whaling's defensive skills were made evident as he threw out 188 baserunners attempting to steal a base during the 1912 season. During the Deadball Era, catchers played a huge defensive role, given the large number of bunts and stolen base attempts, as well as the difficulty of handling the spitball pitchers who dominated pitching staffs. A newspaper report in 1912 called Whaling the best catcher to have ever played in the Northwestern League.
Whaling signed a contract to play for the Boston Braves in October 1912, and made his major league debut with the team on April 22, 1913 at the age of 25. He posted a .242 batting average in 79 games while sharing starting catching duties with Bill Rariden. Whaling had a .990 fielding percentage that year, becoming the first rookie catcher in major league baseball history to win a fielding title. Only four other rookie catchers in Major League Baseball history have accomplished the feat.
Before the 1914 season began, Rariden left the Braves to join the Federal League leaving Whaling as their main catcher with Hank Gowdy as his back up. When Whaling failed to provide much offense, Braves manager, George Stallings gave Gowdy the starting catcher's job. The Braves had been in last place in the National League on July 4 before going on an extended winning streak. The team went from last place to first place within a two-month period, becoming the first team to win a pennant after being in last place on the Fourth of July. Whaling hit .206 in 60 games as Gowdy's back up and led National League catchers in baserunners caught stealing percentage with 54.5%. The Braves went on to sweep Connie Mack's heavily favored Philadelphia Athletics in four games in the 1914 World Series, although Whaling never got a chance to play in the series. The team became known as the "Miracle" Braves and remain one of the most storied comeback teams in baseball history.
While he was a weak hitter and a slow runner, Whaling developed a reputation as a fine defensive catcher. In his final major league season, 1915, Whaling hit .221 in 72 games (42 at-bats), once again as the back up to Gowdy. He appeared in his final major league game on October 7, 1915. It was reported that there was friction between Whaling and the Braves management and, on October 13, he was traded with Herbie Moran to the Pacific Coast League's Vernon Tigers for Joe Wilhoit. After threatening to join the outlaw Federal League, Whaling signed with the Tigers in December 1915.
Whaling played with the Vernon Tigers for two seasons before joining the United States Navy during World War I. After his discharge from military service, Whaling then became a journeyman baseball player. In 1917, he signed to play for the Great Falls Electrics however, two months later he was reported to be playing in Arizona for the Copper Queen Mine baseball team. In 1918, he played in Medicine Hat, Alberta before applying for the job of manager of the Regina Senators in 1919. In May 1920, he was signed as a player for the Regina club. Whaling continued to play in minor league baseball, never staying with a team for more than one season with the exception of two seasons spent with the Denver Bears in 1924 and 1925. He played his final season as a player-manager for the Salt Lake City Bees in 1926 before ending his playing career at the age of 38.
In a three-year major league career, Whaling played in 211 games, accumulating 129 hits in 573 at bats for a .225 career batting average along with 0 home runs, 50 runs batted in and an on-base percentage of .283. He scored 50 runs while walking 39 times and had 98 strikeouts. His .986 career fielding average was 15 points higher than the league average over the span of his playing career. Whaling also spent twelve seasons in the minor leagues, hitting .245 in 793 games.
Minor league manager
- "Bert Whaling at Baseball Reference". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved 10 July 2011.
- "Bert Whaling minor league statistics". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved 10 July 2011.
- "Louie Litschi To Be Given Another Chance By New York". Reading Eagle. 27 August 1911. p. 13. Retrieved 11 July 2011.
- "Naps Release Bert Whaling". The Milwaukee Journal. 24 April 1912. p. 15. Retrieved 11 July 2011.
- "Boston Signs Crack Players". The Meriden Daily Journal. 24 October 1912. p. 8. Retrieved 10 July 2011.
- Vass, George (May 2005). For Catchers, The Name of the Game is Defense. Baseball Digest. Books.Google.com. Retrieved 12 July 2011.
- "Northwestern's Batting Honors of 1912 to Meek While James Is King of Pitchers". The Spokesman-Review. 6 October 1912. p. 8. Retrieved 10 July 2011.
- "1913 National League Fielding Leaders". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved 10 July 2011.
- Rookies Who Won Fielding Titles. Baseball Digest. Books.Google.com. May 2007. Retrieved 10 July 2011.
- James, Bill (2001), The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract, The Free Press, ISBN 0-684-80697-5
- Overfield, Joseph (May 1961). How Losing an Exhibition Sparked Miracle Braves. Baseball Digest. Books.Google.com. Retrieved 10 July 2011.
- "1914 National League Fielding Leaders". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved 10 July 2011.
- "1914 World Series". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved 10 July 2011.
- "The Miracle Braves". thisgreatgame.com. Retrieved 10 July 2011.
- "Whaling Too Slow On Bases But Is Great Catcher". The Bakersfield Californian. 28 October 1915. p. 8. Retrieved 10 July 2011.
- "Fedbug Stings Catcher Whaling". Spokane Daily Chronicle. 12 November 1915. p. 20. Retrieved 10 July 2011.
- "No More Hold Outs To Brother Ed Maier". The Bakersfield Californian. 15 December 1915. p. 20. Retrieved 10 July 2011.
- "Bert Whaling Is Signed By Speas For Regina Team". The Morning Leader. 4 March 1920. p. 5. Retrieved 10 July 2011.
- "History of Phoenix Minor League Baseball 1915–1957". usfamily.net. Retrieved 12 July 2011.
- "Bert Whaling Is Signed By Kester". The Spokesman-Review. 29 March 1917. p. 16. Retrieved 10 July 2011.
- "Whaling Is In Arizona". The Pittsburgh Press. 13 May 1917. p. 4. Retrieved 10 July 2011.
- "Ex-Big Leaguers Apply For Job of Managing Team". The Morning Leader. 20 November 1919. p. 12. Retrieved 10 July 2011.
- "Bert Whaling managing statistics". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved 10 July 2011.