September 2, 1933|
|Died: June 23, 1994
|September 25, 1955, for the New York Yankees|
|Last MLB appearance|
|May 5, 1963, for the New York Mets|
|Runs batted in||170|
|Career highlights and awards|
Marvin Eugene Throneberry (September 2, 1933 – June 23, 1994) was an American Major League Baseball player, best remembered as the starting first baseman for the 1962 New York Mets, a team which set the modern record for most losses in a season with 120.
A native of Fisherville, Tennessee, Throneberry batted and threw left-handed. Signed as an amateur free agent by the New York Yankees in 1952, he made his major-league debut in September 1955. He was one of the most feared minor league sluggers of the 1950s. Playing in the thin air of Bears Stadium as a member of the Denver Bears, Throneberry led the American Association in home runs and runs batted in for three consecutive seasons: 1955-56-57.
Throneberry made it back to the majors for good in 1958, and although he possessed good power — his swing drew comparisons to Mickey Mantle — he showed a tendency to strike out. As a result, he spent two seasons on the Yankees' bench before being included in a six-player trade for Kansas City Athletics power-hitting outfielder Roger Maris before the 1960 season.
After a little more than one full season on Kansas City's bench, filling in at first base and right field, Kansas City traded Throneberry to the Baltimore Orioles for outfielder Gene Stephens in June 1961. Less than a year later, Baltimore traded him to the Mets for a player to be named later (Hobie Landrith) and cash.
With the Mets, Throneberry got his first chance as a regular, and he responded by hitting .244 with 16 home runs and 49 RBI. However, he committed 17 errors at first base and his fielding percentage of .981 would not be equaled by a major-league regular first baseman until César Cedeño fielded .981 in 1979 for the Astros.
The Legend of Marv Throneberry
While he played for the 1962 Mets, many humorous stories surfaced about Throneberry. While it is likely that many of these stories are exaggerated or false, they helped to elevate Throneberry to almost legendary status amongst Mets fans.
In one famous story, on June 17, Throneberry hit a triple against the Cubs, but he was called out after Ernie Banks took a relay throw and stepped on second base. "Didn't touch the bag, you know, Dusty", Banks told umpire Dusty Boggess. According to the legend, Throneberry was called out at second and manager Casey Stengel came out to argue the call, but he was told by the umpire "Don't bother arguing Casey, he missed first base, too." (In another version of the story, Stengel was told this by his first-base coach.) Stengel, after a pause, supposedly replied, "Well, I know he touched third base because he's standing on it!" The next batter, Charlie Neal, hit a home run, prompting Stengel to come out of the dugout following him and pointing at all four bases. Throneberry's mistake proved costly, as the Cubs won the game 8–7.
Throneberry, who facetiously came to be known as Marvelous Marv, maintained a sense of humor about his play, and he became a favorite with fans and the media. At one point he had a fan club which numbered around 5,000 members. It is reported that they wore shirts with the word "VRAM" (Marv backwards) and took up chanting "Cranberry, Strawberry, we love Throneberry."
Except for one rough year defensively in 1962, Throneberry was no worse than average with his career fielding percentage and range factor as a first baseman. He was actually used as a defensive replacement on occasion while with the Yankees.
"Marvelous Marv" later became one of the original spokesmen for Miller Lite beer in the mid 1970s, poking fun at himself in a series of TV commercials. Throneberry's most famous line: "If I do for Lite what I did for baseball, I'm afraid their sales will go down." In another popular ad, after other celebrities are shown, Throneberry is shown at the end, saying: "I still don't know what I'm doing in this commercial."
In a seven-season career, Throneberry was a .237 hitter with 53 home runs and 170 RBI in 480 games.
Throneberry died of cancer in Fisherville, Tennessee, at 60 years of age.
- Maris goes to Yanks; A's get Larsen in 7-man deal
- Breslin, Jimmy, Can't Anybody Here Play This Game? (The Viking Press, 1963), p. 21
- Breslin, Jimmy, Can't Anybody Here Play This Game? (The Viking Press, 1963), p. 79
- Breslin, Jimmy, Can't Anybody Here Play This Game? (The Viking Press, 1963), p. 100
- on YouTube, Miller Lite commercial with Marv Throneberry
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference, or Baseball-Reference (Minors)
- "Marv Throneberry, 60, Ex-Met; Had Best Year In Team's Worst," The New York Times, Saturday, June 25, 1994.
- Marv Throneberry at Find a Grave