I’ve always loved this cover of SPORT magazine.
Gracing this February 1953 issue is Bobby Shantz. He very graciously signed the cover through the mail. I asked him to personalize it to my son Cameron and he added the following inscription:
“To Cameron – Best Wishes – Keep your eyes on the ball” – Bobby Shantz, 1952 AL MVP”
I’ve had the issue forever and decided to package it up and mail it to Mr. Shantz. The return took about 10 days and came out beautifully.
There aren’t very many of us who can say we beat out Yankee legends in MVP voting. Okay, so probably NONE of us can say that. Mr. Shantz can say it though. The award was handily won by the pitcher in 1952 after posting a 24-7 win/loss record. Also in the running were a few guys by the name of Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, and Allie Reynolds.
Despite the Philadelphia A’s finishing in 5th place that year, Shantz led the American League in wins, winning percentage (.774), fewest walks per game (2.03), finished second with 27 complete games, third with a 2.48 ERA and 152 strikeouts, tied for third with five shutouts, fourth with 255 innings pitched and fifth in fewest hits per game (7.39).
Due to being born just a bit too early, 1952 would have likely won him the Cy Young Award had it existed at the time. His odds of winning would have been even greater when you take into consideration the award is given out to the top pitcher in each league. The 280 innings pitched came at the expense of the ’53 and ’54 season as he battled arm soreness
In addition to starring in 3 All-Star Games, Shantz retired with Eight Gold Gloves and had the award been around prior to 1957 he would likely have won more. Only Greg Maddux, Jim Kaat, and Bob Gibson have won more than Shantz’ eight.
Shantz’ last season (1964) was split between St. Louis, Chicago, and Philadelphia. He was actually part of one of the most infamous trades in major league baseball history that year as he was shipped off to the Cubs along with Ernie Broglio (and a few other players) in exchange for a young ballplayer named Lou Brock. Shantz was at the end of the line with his career, Broglio was shipped off with a failing arm (that whether or not St. Louis knew about is still up for debate), and of course, it goes without saying that Brock went on to have a pretty decent career for St. Louis.