|Second baseman / Third baseman / Coach|
October 1, 1901|
New York City
|Died: July 12, 1994
Santa Ana, California
|April 19, 1930, for the New York Yankees|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 25, 1932, for the St. Louis Cardinals|
|Runs batted in||70|
|Career highlights and awards|
Jimmie Reese (October 1, 1901 – July 13, 1994) was a professional baseball player. He played second base, third base, and then coached in Major League Baseball.
Reese was born James Herman Solomon to a Jewish family in New York City and was brought up in Los Angeles. In order to avoid the brunt of prejudice against Jewish baseball players, he adopted the name of Jimmie Reese, which he used throughout his baseball career.
The Oaks won the PCL pennant in 1927, with Reese batting .295 in 191 games. He had a league-leading fielding percentage of .984 that year.
New York Yankees
He was called up to the American League in 1930. Reese played for the Yankees in 1930 and 1931, and was most noted for being the roommate of Babe Ruth (or, as Reese explained, he "roomed with Ruth's suitcase").
In 1930 he batted .346 in 188 at bats, striking out only 8 times. Only Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth hit for higher averages on the team. He was the primary back-up at second base (48 games) behind Tony Lazzeri (77 games).
St. Paul Saints
In November 1931 he was sent by the Yankees to the St. Paul Saints (American Association), to complete an earlier deal made in June 1931 for Johnny Murphy, Jack Saltzgaver, cash, and 2 players to be named.
St. Louis Cardinals
Reese played the 1932 season with the St. Louis Cardinals, who had selected him off of waivers in June.
Los Angeles Angels (PCL)
The Los Angeles Angels (PCL) purchased Reese's contract from the Cardinals in February 1933. He missed most of the season due to injuries and illness, but hit .330 in 104 games. The following year he batted .311 with 12 triples, and had a fielding percentage of .972 (the best among second basemen that season). He continued to play for the Angels in 1935 and 1936.
San Diego Padres
After his playing career
|Jimmie Reese's number 50 was retired by the California Angels in 1995.|
After the war, he worked as a scout for the Boston Braves for two years, and coached in San Diego from 1948 until 1960, when he was appointed manager. But he preferred to coach, so he resigned partway through the 1961 season. "I'm best suited as a liaison man, as a coach", he said. "I just am not suited to give a guy hell."
Reese never married, had no children, and was mostly estranged from his extended family. In 1972, at age 71, he asked the Angels for a job, and was hired as conditioning coach, whose job was to get the players into shape. Reese's main specialty, however, was hitting fungos in practice, using a fungo bat he made himself. Numerous Angels players remarked on his seemingly uncanny ability to place fungos where he wanted. He even occasionally "pitched" batting practice with his fungo bat, standing at the pitcher's rubber and consistently hitting line drives over the middle of the plate. He was regularly called "the nicest man in baseball", and had a friendship with Nolan Ryan when he was with the team; Ryan would name one of his sons Reese in his honor. He was listed as an Angels coach for 22 years, until his death on July 13, 1994, in Santa Ana, California. He died peacefully of aspiration pneumonia and respiratory failure.
His uniform #50 was retired by the club in his memory. At his death, Reese was believed to be the oldest person ever to regularly wear a uniform in an official capacity in the history of organized professional baseball in North America. His record was surpassed in 2016 by Red Schoendienst, who currently serves as a special assistant coach for the St. Louis Cardinals at age 93 and wears a Cardinals uniform in that role. Ted Radcliffe and Buck O'Neil made appearances in professional games at older ages, but those were one-off ceremonial events.
He was inducted into the Pacific Coast League Hall of Fame in 2003.
In popular culture
In the film Jack Reacher, Tom Cruise in the title role uses the name Jimmie Reese when trying to conceal his identity from a suspiciously, sexually overt local girl, Sandy (Alexia Fast). Later on, he confirms that whenever he uses an alias, he always uses the name of someone who played second base for the Yankees, such as Jimmie Reese.
Notes and references
- Weiss, Bill; Wright, Marshall. "Minor League Baseball History, Top 100 Teams: Team #1 1934 Los Angeles Angels (137–50)". Minor League Baseball. Retrieved September 1, 2009.
- Neyer, Rob (2008). Rob Neyer's Big Book of Baseball Legends: The Truth, the Lies, and Everything Else. Simon and Schuster. p. 170. ISBN 978-0-7432-8490-5.
- Jimmie Reese at the SABR Bio Project, by Ralph Berger, retrieved February 1, 2011
- "Jimmie Reese, 92, A Baseball Coach – Obituary". New York Times. July 14, 1994. Retrieved February 1, 2011.
- "Top 100 Teams | MiLB.com History | The Official Site of Minor League Baseball". Web.minorleaguebaseball.com. Retrieved February 1, 2011.
- Pacific Coast League Hall of Fame at BR Bullpen, accessed 2013-06-24