Jimmie Reese

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Not to be confused with Jimmy Reece.
Jimmie Reese
Second baseman / Third baseman / Coach
Born: (1901-10-01)October 1, 1901
New York City
Died: July 12, 1994(1994-07-12) (aged 92)
Santa Ana, California
Batted: Left Threw: Right
MLB debut
April 19, 1930, for the New York Yankees
Last MLB appearance
September 25, 1932, for the St. Louis Cardinals
MLB statistics
Batting average .278
Home runs 8
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.

Early life[edit]

Reese was born James Herman Solomon to a Jewish family in New York City and was brought up in Los Angeles.[1][2] 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.[2]

Playing career[edit]

Much of his career was spent in the Pacific Coast League, beginning as a batboy with the Los Angeles Angels from 1919 (at least one source claims 1917[1]) to 1923.[3][4]

Oakland Oaks[edit]

In 1924 he signed a contract to play second base with the Oakland Oaks.[4]

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.[3]

New York Yankees[edit]

In September 1927 he was traded by Oakland to the New York Yankees with Lyn Lary and $100,000 ($1,362,261 today).[4]

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”).[5]

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[edit]

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[edit]

Reese played the 1932 season with the St. Louis Cardinals, who had selected him off of waivers in June.

Los Angeles Angels (PCL)[edit]

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.[3] 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.[3]

San Diego Padres[edit]

In 1937 he was traded to the San Diego Padres (PCL), where he hit .314. The Padres won the Governor's Cup that year. He retired as a player after the 1938 season.[3]

After his playing career[edit]

Jimmie Reese's number 50 was retired by the California Angels in 1995.

Reese served in the Army from November 1942 to July 1943 with the 12th Armored Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, where he managed the baseball team.[3]

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."[3]

From 1963 until 1970 he coached at Hawaii, Seattle, and Portland, Oregon; then he scouted for the Montreal Expos.

He threw out the ceremonial first pitch at the 1989 Major League Baseball All-Star Game, played at Anaheim Stadium.

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 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.[1] 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.[1] Red Schoendienst, currently age 92, still wears a St. Louis Cardinals uniform as a special assistant coach, but will not surpass Reese's record unless he remains in uniform in the 2016 season. 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.[6]

See also[edit]

In popular culture[edit]

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[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Weiss, Bill and Wright, Marshall. "Minor League Baseball History, Top 100 Teams: Team #1 1934 Los Angeles Angels (137–50)". Minor League Baseball. Retrieved September 1, 2009. 
  2. ^ a b 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. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g Jimmie Reese at the SABR Bio Project, by Ralph Berger, retrieved February 1, 2011
  4. ^ a b c "Jimmie Reese, 92, A Baseball Coach - Obituary; Biography - NYTimes.com". New York Times. July 14, 1994. Retrieved February 1, 2011. 
  5. ^ "Top 100 Teams | MiLB.com History | The Official Site of Minor League Baseball". Web.minorleaguebaseball.com. Retrieved February 1, 2011. 
  6. ^ Pacific Coast League Hall of Fame at BR Bullpen, accessed 2013-06-24

External links[edit]