Thursday, April 14, 2011

A to Z, The Orioles' Legacy: Chet Laabs

Player: Chet Laabs
Years of Service: 8 (1939-46)
Position: Outfielder

Image via The Full Wiki

On the day in 1944 when the St. Louis Browns beat the Yankees for their only American League pennant, Chet Laabs was the star, hitting two home runs on the final day of the regular season. He was an All-Star in 1943. However, his most productive season was 1942: .275 batting average, 27 homers, 90 runs scored and 99 RBI.


In answer to Mock's question regarding Red Kress, he was traded to the White Sox in 1932 and then to the Senators in 1934. He played minor league ball in 1937 before finding his way back to the Browns in 1938.

Kress's journeyman career is interesting in light of a trend I've noticed on my A to Z list. I set the parameters for selection before I picked the players. For each letter, I chose the player who had the longest tenure with the club. What I've observed is a surprisingly high number of players who were known more for their defense than their offense. Mark Belanger is the perfect example: notoriously weak at the plate and yet considered one of the best defensive shortstops ever. That was enough for him to find a home with one of the era's strongest franchises for the better part of two decades. The lesson is pretty clear: fielding your position well is great for job security. Offensive prowess can be streaky but a good gloveman probably always will be one.

Which brings us to the case of Red Kress, jack of all trades. The Browns shipped him off after he'd had a string of solid offensive years, essentially when his stock was at a high point. He never matched the same success at bat but it seems his versatility in the field helped keep him in the sport for several more years. He played his last professional season in 1946 with the New York Giants at age 39.


For each letter of the A to Z Challenge, I will feature one player from Baltimore Orioles/St. Louis Browns history. I hope you will join me. I hope you'll also check out the other 1200+ blogs participating. See the full list at Tossing It Out.

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