Robert Henry Cerv (// sərv; May 5, 1925 – April 6, 2017) was an American professional baseball left fielder. Prior to his professional career, he was a collegiate baseball and basketball player at the University of Nebraska. He was born in Weston, Nebraska and served in the U.S. Navy during World War II.
|Born: May 5, 1925|
|Died: April 6, 2017 (aged 91)|
|August 1, 1951, for the New York Yankees|
|Last MLB appearance|
|July 29, 1962, for the Houston Colt .45s|
|Runs batted in||374|
|Career highlights and awards|
Cerv signed with the New York Yankees in 1950 and was a little-used reserve outfielder on the Yankee teams of the early 1950s. According to sportswriter Robert Creamer, interviewed for the Ken Burns film Baseball, one afternoon, Yankees manager Casey Stengel approached Cerv in the Yankees' dugout, sat down nearby, and commented "There's not many people that know this, but one of us has been traded to Kansas City."
Following the 1956 season, Cerv was sold to the Kansas City Athletics, where he became a regular. His best season was 1958, when he hit .305, hit 38 homers, and had 104 RBIs, was elected to the American League All-Star team, beating out Ted Williams for the starting spot. He also finished 4th in the MVP voting that year. He did all of this while playing injured part of the season. Cerv also participated in the Home Run Derby, where he defeated Frank Robinson. He followed up in 1959 with 20 homers and 87 RBIs.
In May 1960, Cerv was traded back to the Yankees for Andy Carey. Following the 1960 season, he was drafted by the Los Angeles Angels in the expansion draft and was in the starting lineup for the Angel franchise's inaugural game on April 11, 1961. In May 1961, he was traded back to the Yankees, where he was a substitute and pinch hitter. In June 1962 he was sold to the Houston Colt .45s, who released him in August.
In his career, Cerv had 105 home runs, including 12 pinch hit homers. He also had a .276 batting average in his career with 624 hits in 2261 at bats. Following Cerv's big league career, he coached college baseball at Southeast Missouri State College and John F. Kennedy College in Wahoo, Nebraska where he also coached the men's basketball team.
Cerv was portrayed by actor Chris Bauer in 61*, an HBO 2001 movie directed by Billy Crystal about the 1961 season when Roger Maris and Mickey Mantle attempted to break the record of 60 Home Runs established by Babe Ruth in 1927, with Maris finally breaking it by belting his 61st in the last game of the season. Cerv, Maris and Mantle were roommates for most of that year.
- Sandomir, Richard. "Bob Cerv, Three-Time Yankee and One-Time All-Star, Dies at 91," The New York Times, Thursday, April 13, 2017.
- "Carey Is Traded For Cerv". news.google.com. The Victoria Advocate. May 20, 1960. Retrieved 2017-04-07.
- Gomez, Pedro (November 16, 1997). "Expansion Clubs Given Better Chance Today". news.google.com. Lakeland Ledger. Retrieved 2017-04-07.
- "Yanks, Angels Complete Six Player Trade". news.google.com. Rome News-Tribune. May 9, 1961. Retrieved 2017-04-07.
- "Yanks Sell Bob Cerv To Colts". news.google.com. The Victoria Advocate. June 27, 1962. Retrieved 2017-04-07.
- "Cerv Plans Comeback". news.google.com. The Telegraph. September 20, 1962. Retrieved 2017-04-07.
- Ellis, Leeanna (April 7, 2017). "Former Yankee Bob Cerv dies at 91". Washington County Enterprise and Pilot Tribune. Retrieved 2017-04-08.
- Kaipust, Rich (April 7, 2017). "Nebraska native, former Husker and MLB star Bob Cerv lived a 'lucky' life". Omaha.com. Retrieved 2017-04-08.
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference