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March 18, 1901|
Cranston, Rhode Island
|Died: July 8, 1986
|April 19, 1921, for the Boston Braves|
|Last MLB appearance|
|July 30, 1944, for the New York Yankees|
|Runs batted in||219|
|Earned run average||3.72|
John Walter Cooney (March 18, 1901 – July 8, 1986) was an American professional baseball player. He was a pitcher, outfielder and first baseman, then a longtime coach, in Major League Baseball. Listed at 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m) (178 cm) and 165 pounds (75 kg), Cooney batted right-handed but threw left-handed. He was born in Cranston, Rhode Island.
In a 20-season career, Cooney played for the Boston Bees/Braves (Braves, 1921–30, 1940–42; Bees, 1938–40) and also with the Brooklyn Dodgers (1935–37, 1943–44) and New York Yankees (1944), while hitting a .286 batting average (965-for-3372) with 219 RBI and only two home runs. He made 159 appearances as a pitcher from 1921 through 1930, all with Boston, winning 34 and losing 44 for a .436 winning percentage with 224 strikeouts and a 3.72 ERA in 795⅓ Innings pitched.
According to Hank Greenberg's biographer, before Greenberg's very first spring training exhibition game in 1930 when his Detroit Tigers were set to play the Braves, Cooney felt sympathy towards the 19-year-old then known as Henry, took him aside before the game and promised, "Kid, I'm going to give you one you can hit." He did, and Greenberg did, as the future Hall of Fame slugger launched an impressive homer over the fence.
In his second stint in the Majors, after 1935, Cooney concentrated on playing outfield and first base. His two homers were hit in consecutive games in September 1939, when he again played for Boston. His best averages as a regular came with the Braves, .318 in 1940 and .319 in 1941. He was listed as a playing coach for Boston's National Leaguers from 1940–42.
Cooney's only two home runs as a major leaguer came towards the end of his career, on back to back games when he was already 38 years old.
Coaching and managerial career
Cooney spent the last two decades of his baseball career as a full-time coach for the Braves in both Boston and Milwaukee (1946–55) and the Chicago White Sox (1957–64), retiring after the 1964 season. He managed Boston over the last 46 games of the 1949 season when manager Billy Southworth took a leave of absence for health reasons. During his managing tenure, Cooney posted a 20–25 record with one tie (.444).
Cooney died in Sarasota, Florida at age 85.
- Rosengren, John (2013). Hank Greenberg: The Hero of Heroes. New York: New American Library. p. 36. ISBN 978-0-451-23576-3.