Gabby Street

Charles Evard "Gabby" Street (September 30, 1882 – February 6, 1951), also nicknamed "The Old Sarge", was an American catcher, manager, coach, and radio broadcaster in Major League Baseball during the first half of the 20th century. As a catcher, he participated in one of the most publicized baseball stunts of the century's first decade. As a manager, he led the St. Louis Cardinals to two National League championships (1930–31) and one world title (1931). As a broadcaster, he entertained St. Louis baseball fans in the years following World War II.

Gabby Street
Gabby Street baseball card.jpg
Gabby Street Baseball Card
Catcher
Born: (1882-09-30)September 30, 1882
Huntsville, Alabama
Died: February 6, 1951(1951-02-06) (aged 68)
Joplin, Missouri
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
September 13, 1904, for the Cincinnati Reds
Last MLB appearance
September 20, 1931, for the St. Louis Cardinals
MLB statistics
Batting average.208
Home runs2
Runs batted in105
Teams
As player

As manager

Career highlights and awards

BiographyEdit

Born in Huntsville, Alabama, Street (who batted and threw right-handed) was a weak hitter. He batted only .208 in a seven-year playing career (1904–05; 1908–12) in 502 games with the Cincinnati Reds, Boston Beaneaters, Washington Senators, and New York Highlanders. Apart from 1908 to 1909, when he was the Senators' first-string catcher, he was a part-time player. Street holds the record for the longest gap between Major League games – 19 years (1912–1931).[1]

However, on August 21, 1908, Street achieved a measure of immortality by catching a baseball dropped from the top of the Washington Monument—a distance of 555 feet (169 m). After muffing the first 12 balls thrown by journalist Preston Gibson, he made a clean reception of number 13. In addition, Street was fabled as an early catcher and mentor of the American League's nonpareil right-handed pitcher, Walter Johnson.

After Street's playing career ended, he managed in the minor leagues before joining the Cardinals' major league coaching staff in 1929. It was a year of turmoil for the defending NL champs. They replaced 1928 skipper Bill McKechnie before the season with Billy Southworth; then, when Southworth couldn't get results, they brought back McKechnie on July 24. In between, Street served as acting manager for one game on July 23: an 8–2 triumph over the Philadelphia Phillies.[2] At the close of the 1929 season, McKechnie left to manage the Boston Braves and Street became the Redbirds' full-fledged manager.

 
Street (seated right) circa 1930s

The Old Sarge promptly led the Cardinals to consecutive National League pennants. In 1930, they won 92 games and finished two games in front of the Chicago Cubs. But in the 1930 World Series, they faced the defending world champion Philadelphia Athletics and lost in six games. In 1931, Street's Cardinals won 101 games and bested the New York Giants by 13 games. Then, in the 1931 Series against those same A's, pitchers Wild Bill Hallahan and Burleigh Grimes dominated and Pepper Martin had 12 hits, batted .500, drove in five runs and stole five bases to lead the underdog Redbirds to a seven-game world championship against the last Connie Mack dynasty.

The Cardinals faltered in 1932, winning only 72 games and finishing tied for sixth, 18 games out, and had improved only to fifth in July 1933. Street was dumped on July 23 and replaced by his second baseman, Frankie Frisch. The next two seasons, he managed the Mission Reds, but in 1935 he was suspended from the Pacific Coast League indefinitely for assaulting an umpire.[3] After that, he managed in the AA American Association for a few seasons, then made a return to the Mound City as skipper of the 1938 St. Louis Browns. The habitually bottom-feeding Brownies finished seventh in an eight-team American League, winning only 53 games. The '38 season put a cap on Street's major league managerial career. In all or parts of six years, he won 365 and lost 332 (.524).[4]

Street would return to St. Louis and the major leagues, however, as a color commentator for Cardinals and Browns radio broadcasts after the Second World War, working with young colleague Harry Caray. After battling cancer successfully in 1949, Street fell victim to heart failure in his adopted hometown of Joplin, Missouri, in February 1951. He died at 68 years of age.

Gabby Street's likeness made a brief cameo appearance on The Simpsons episode: "Homer at the Bat" (1992) as one of the old timers on Mr.Burn's baseball team.

In the book ” Catching the Moon: The Story of a Young Girl's Baseball Dream,” By Crystal Hubbard, Gabby Street runs a baseball camp. The main character is denied based on the fact she is a girl. When she proves herself, he allows her to attend with the caveat to bring a glove and cleats. When she is unable to afford cleats, he buys a pair for her. This is based on a true story about Toni Stone and how she got her first pair of cleats.

Managerial recordEdit

Team From To Regular season record Post–season record
G W L Win % G W L Win %
St. Louis Cardinals 1929 1929 1 1 0 1.000
St. Louis Cardinals 1930 1933 553 311 242 .562 13 6 7 .462
St. Louis Browns 1938 1938 143 53 90 .371
Total 697 365 332 .524 13 6 7 .462
Ref.:[4]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Major League Comebacks". TheBaseballCube.com. Retrieved 6 May 2012.[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ Information at Retrosheet
  3. ^ "Manager of Mission Reds Is Suspended". Madera Tribune. Madera, California. 31 August 1935. p. 1. Retrieved 10 September 2018.
  4. ^ a b "Gabby Street". Baseball Reference. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved August 8, 2016.

External linksEdit