January 1, 1924|
|Died: November 8, 1990
|April 15, 1947, for the Boston Braves|
|Last MLB appearance|
|August 23, 1961, for the New York Yankees|
|Runs batted in||740|
|Career highlights and awards|
Clifford Earl Torgeson (January 1, 1924 – November 8, 1990) was an American Major League Baseball player from Snohomish, Washington. A first baseman, he played on five teams for 15 years, from 1947 through 1961. He was known by his middle name, Earl, and his nickname was the "The Earl of Snohomish", a nickname originally owned by baseball hall of famer, Earl Averill, also from Torgeson's hometown. In 1950, Torgeson led the National League (NL) with 120 runs scored and in 1957, he led the American League (AL) with a .999 fielding average as first baseman.
Early years and baseball
Earl Torgeson was born in the lumber town of Snohomish, Washington on New Years Day of 1924. He served in the U.S. Army during World War II from 1943 to 1945. After the war, he played for Seattle in the Pacific Coast League.
Major League baseball
Torgeson's had a lifetime .265 batting average and .989 fielding average. His best batting average for a full season was .290 and his highest home run total was 24. His career on-base percentage was .385 (the league average for the years he played is .339) and in 1950, when he led the National League with 120 runs scored, his on-base percentage was .412. Most years that he played over 100 games, he was in the league's top 10 for drawing base on balls (walks). His peak years for drawing walks were 1950 and 1951, when he drew 119 and 102 walks respectively. In 1959, he helped the White Sox win the American League Pennant. In one game in 1959, during an inning against Kansas City where the White Sox scored 11 runs on one hit, he got a pinch-hit walk.
In 1950, the only two National League regulars at first base to outpace him in home run totals were Ted Kluszewski, with 25 home runs, and Gil Hodges, with 32 home runs. Torgeson's 23 home runs that year were far ahead of the other first basemen in the league. Eddie Waitkus of league champion Philadelphia had 2; Tookie Gilbert of New York had 4; Preston Ward of Chicago had 6; Johnny Hopp of Pittsburgh had 8; and Rocky Nelson of St. Louis had only 1.
Torgeson was a regular player for 9 years, and he would have been a regular in 1949 if not for a shoulder injury in May and broken thumb in August 1949 (also a broken rib when hit by a pitch in 1950). He played another five years as a role player. As a pinch hitter, as per earlier in his career, his batting eye was key to his value. Even when his hits were few, he still got on base. In 1961, for example, playing out the string for the New York Yankees, he hit only .111 in 18 at-bats, but drew 8 walks for a .385 on-base percentage.
Torgeson also deserves some mention for his base stealing. Although his highest total for a baseball season was only 20, it came during a period in baseball when almost no one stole bases, especially not first basemen. For the short period (1950–-1952) that they had Sam Jethroe (who won bases stealing crowns in 1950 and 1951) and Torgeson, the Braves had the best base stealing tandem in baseball. In 1950, with a combined total of 50 stolen bases, the Jethroe-Torgeson duo stole more bases than every other team in the National League, except for the Brooklyn Dodgers.