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James Edward Gentile (born June 3, 1934), also nicknamed "Diamond Jim", is an American former professional baseball first baseman. He played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Brooklyn / Los Angeles Dodgers, Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City Athletics, Houston Astros, and Cleveland Indians between 1957 and 1966.
|Born: June 3, 1934|
San Francisco, California
|September 10, 1957, for the Brooklyn Dodgers|
|Last MLB appearance|
|September 3, 1966, for the Cleveland Indians|
|Runs batted in||549|
|Career highlights and awards|
Born in San Francisco, California, Gentile was a powerful, left-handed slugger listed at 6' 4", 215 lb. He was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers as a high school pitcher in 1952. He played his first minor league season as a pitcher, earning a 2-6 win-lost record. The next year he was converted into a first baseman. He languished for eight years in the minors for a Dodgers team that already had All-Star Gil Hodges at first base and Norm Larker. He dominated the minors, leading two separate leagues in home runs.
On September 24, 1957, Gentile started at first base for the Dodgers at Brooklyn's famed Ebbets Field in the final game ever played there. He was replaced by Pee Wee Reese in the top of the fifth inning with Reese going to third base and Gil Hodges moving from third to first. The game's final batter, Pittsburgh's Dee Fondy, hit a ground ball to Don Zimmer at shortstop and Zimmer threw to Hodges at first base for the game's final out.
Gentile was traded to Baltimore in 1960, where he was named to the 1960 All-Star Game his first full season. He enjoyed his best season in 1961, hitting a career-highs .302 batting average, 46 home runs, 141 runs batted in(see below), 96 runs, 147 hits, 25 doubles, 96 walks, .423 on-base percentage, .646 slugging average and 1.069 OPS. He finished third in the MVP ballot (behind Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris). In addition, Gentile hit five grand slams — (including two straight in one game) — setting an American League record that stood until Don Mattingly belted six in one season1987.
In a nine-season career, Gentile batted .260 (759-for-2922) with 179 home runs, 549 RBI, 434 runs, 113 doubles, six triples, and three stolen bases in 936 games. Following his major league career, he played one season in Japan for the Kintetsu Buffaloes in 1969.
1961 RBI record keeping errorEdit
Gentile's 141 RBIs in 1961 was second only to Roger Maris' 142 RBIs, however, analysis by the Society for American Baseball Research determined Maris was incorrectly credited with an RBI in a game on July 5, 1961. Maris reached base on an error by numerous accounts. Therefore, Gentile and Maris both had 141 RBIs in 1961. Gentile's contract with the Orioles in 1961 called for a $5,000 bonus if he led the league in RBIs. The Orioles made good on that deal 50 years later and presented Gentile with a check for $5,000 at a game in 2010.
- Finkel, Jon (May 13, 2013). "Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris And Jim Gentile: The Story Of Baseball's Forgotten 1961 Sensation". The PostGame. Yahoo! Sports!. Retrieved 3 January 2014.
- Wilks, Ed (10 May 1961). "Oriole first baseman belts two grand slams". The Florence Times. p. 10. Retrieved 7 June 2010.
- "Pick Six Passers Added to 1950".
- "Ex-Oriole Jim Gentile lost $5,000 over error giving Roger Maris RBI crown".
- JIM GENTILE – 1961 Most Valuable Oriole | Urban Shocker's Weblog Retrieved 2012-10-24.