May 25, 2024

Often Overlooked Johnny Mize Put Up Impressive Numbers

March 30, 2024 by · Leave a Comment 

Johnny Mize book coverTed Williams said, “Johnny Mize was one of baseball’s most outstanding hitters.”

Indeed, Mize, a first baseman, was a feared slugger who clouted 369 homers and a compiled a career batting average of .312. He was the first player to knock 50 homers (51 in 1947) and strike out less than 50 times.

The big, quiet Georgian led the National League in homers four times, batting average once, RBI three times and extra base hits four times. His .562 career slugging average is higher than that of Stan Musial, Willie Mays, Hank Aaron and Mickey Mantle. He accomplished all this despite missing three years for military service.

When Mize retired in 1953, he was sixth on the all-time home run list, trailing only Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx, Mel Ott, Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio. Although he was thought to be a “shoo-in” for the Hall of Fame, at that time, he didn’t get the call until 1981.

Termed a “thinking man’s hitter,” Mize enjoyed his most productive years with the St. Louis Cardinals and the New York Giants. Author Jerry Grillo makes the point that Mize should have won the MVP award in 1940 (111 runs, 43 homers, 137 RBI and .317 average) and 1947 (137 runs, 51 homers, 138 RBI and .302 average.) He lost in 1940 to Frank McCormick of the Reds (who led the NL in hits and doubles) and to Bob Elliott of the Boston Braves (who didn’t lead the league in any offensive category) in 1947.

Mize’s role was limited when he was sold to the New York Yankees in 1949, but he made valuable contributions to five World Series championship teams with the Bronx Bombers.

Grillo does a great job of covering Mize’s early years, his career in the minors and his post-retirement years. He provides plenty of insights into Mize as a person.

This is a well-deserved, well-written biography of a Hall of Famer, who is frequently overlooked.

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