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 John Robert “Big Cat” Mize

John Robert “Big Cat” Mize

Birth
Demorest, Habersham County, Georgia, USA
Death 2 Jun 1993 (aged 80)
Demorest, Habersham County, Georgia, USA
Burial Demorest, Habersham County, Georgia, USA
Plot Section 11, Lot J-5
Memorial ID 3624 · View Source
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Hall of Fame Major League Baseball Player. He played Major League baseball as a 1st baseman for 15 seasons (1936 to 1942, 1946 to 1953) with the St. Louis Cardinals, New York Giants and New York Yankees. One of the premier National League sluggers, he also was a duel threat for his ability to hit for average as well as his home run power. After toiling in the Cardinals minor league system for six years, he was brought up in 1936 and had a spectacular rookie season, batting .329 with 19 Home Runs (good for 5th in the League) and 93 RBIs. For his first six years he was a star for the Cardinals, both for his hitting and his slick fielding (which earned him the nickname “Big Cat”). He never hit less than .300 (topping with .364 in 1937 and leading the NL with a .349 average in 1939), led the NL in home runs twice (28 in 1939, 43 in 1940), and ran a string of five 100+ RBIs seasons (leading the NL with 137 in 1940), all the while never striking out more than 92 times during those years. He appeared in the All-Star Game four times while with the Cardinals (1937, 1939, 1940, 1941) and was the NL Starting 1st baseman three years in a row. In the 1941 Mid-Summer Classic he smacked an 8th inning double off of the White Sox’ Eddie Smith, and scored when the Dodgers’ Arky Vaughan slugged his second home run of the game. After the 1941 season that saw his power production reduced due to injuries, the Cardinals traded him to the New York Giants for pitcher Bill Lohrman, catcher Ken O’Dea, and 1st baseman Johnny McCarthy. In his first season with New York he hit .305, drove in 110 RBIs to lead the NL, hit 26 home runs, and was named an All-Star game starter. However, at the beginning of World War II, he enlisted in the United States Navy, and served a full three years. Returning to the Giants in 1946, he contained his stellar play. 1947 saw his best year in the Majors when he hit 51 home runs (tying for League lead with the Pirates’ Ralph Kiner), drove in 138 RBIs, scored 137 runs (all League leaders) while hitting .302. He set a record by scoring in 16 straight games (broken by Ted Kluszewski in 1954), and his 51 home runs stood as the record for the most hit in the National League by a lefty until Barry Bonds broke it 54 years later. The next year he again tied Kiner for the League lead in home runs with 40. Named as NL All-Star Game starter from 1946 to 1949, he scored the only National League run in the 1947 Game with a solo home run hit off of the Yankee’s Frank "Spec" Shea. Towards the end of the 1949 season, hobbled by injuries, the Giants sold their slugger to the New York Yankees, where he became an integral bench player and spot starter. After only appearing in 13 Games for the Yankees in the regular season, he played a big part in the 1949 World Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers. He had only two a-bats, but made the most of them. His 9th Inning pinch single in Game 3 broke a 1-1 tie, and gave the Yankees the win (he also got a hit in his other at-bat) as New York took the Championship 4 Games to 1. Despite playing in only 90 games the next year, he hit 25 home runs with 72 RBIs, and was the Yankees starting 1st baseman in their sweep of the Philadelphia Phillies “Whiz Kids” in the World Series. He capped off the year by hitting three home runs in a game against the Detroit Tigers on September 15th, which was his still-record 6th career time performing that slugging feat. In 1951 he appeared in over 100 Games for the last time in his career as he helped the Yankees return for again to the World Series, this time against his old team, the Giants, against whom he batted .286 as the Yankees took their 3rd championship. In 1954 he became more of a reduced role bench player, but he still shined in the post-season. In the 1952 World Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers, he was a main catalyst for the Yanks 4 Games to 3 victory. After having only one at-bat through the first three Series games (which produced a harmless solo home run in the bottom of a Brooklyn 5 to 3 Game 3 win), he was named to start Game 4 by manager Casey Stengel over the struggling and hitless Joe Collins. The move paid immediate dividends – Johnny Mize hit another home run (along with a single and double) to provide all the scoring Allie Reynolds needed to secure a 2-0 win. Game 5 saw him hit yet another home run, a three-run shot, making him the first player to homer in three consecutive Series games (he had another potential home run in the 11th inning robbed by a spectacular catch by Carl Furillo). He would go on to bat .400 with 6 RBIs to go with his 3 home runs in the Yankees win. His last year, 1953, saw him named to the AL All-Star team (the 10th time he was honored that way), and true to form he got a pinch hit single in the 9th Inning of the All-Star Game. When the Yanks again went to the World Series for a record 5th consecutive time, he made three pinch-hitting appearance as the Yankees downed the Dodgers once more. After winning 5 World Series rings with the Yankees, he retired with totals of 1,884 Games Played, 2,011 Hits, 1,118 Runs, 359 Home Runs, 1,337 RBIs and a .312 career Batting Average. Most significantly, he struck out only 856 times in 6,443 at-bats; a stat considered by many to be impressive for a power hitter. His value to the Yankees during their five year reign as baseball champions is exemplified by the fact that he led all of baseball in pinch-hits in 1951, 1952 and 1953. In 1981 he was elected to the National Baseball League Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee. Although he played in St. Louis for only six of his 15 years, he remains one of the team's greatest player. His team mark of 43 Home Runs stood until 1998 when broken by Mark McGwire, a span of 58 years.

Bio by: Russ Dodge


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 30 Sep 1998
  • Find A Grave Memorial 3624
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for John Robert “Big Cat” Mize (7 Jan 1913–2 Jun 1993), Find A Grave Memorial no. 3624, citing Yonah Memorial Gardens, Demorest, Habersham County, Georgia, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .