A Glimpse of Fame

Brilliant but Fleeting Major League Careers


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About the Book

Ron Necciai once struck out 27 hitters in a nine-inning minor league game. Floyd Giebell beat Bob Feller to clinch the 1940 American League pennant for the Detroit Tigers. John Paciorek had three hits in three at bats in his big league debut—and never played another game in the majors.
These three players and twelve other talented men (Bill Koski, Ed Sanicki, Joe Stanka, Bill Rohr, Al Autry, Joe Brovia, John Leovich, Bert Shepard, Doug Clarey, Marshall Mauldin, Bernie Williams, and Frank Leja) reached the top of their profession only to sink back into obscurity. Through interviews with all the players and extensive research, their stories are told. Major and minor league year-by-year statistics for each player are included.

About the Author(s)

Dennis Snelling is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research and the Pacific Coast League Historical Society. He lives in Rocklin, California. (Visit www.dennissnelling.com.)

Bibliographic Details

Dennis Snelling
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 268
Bibliographic Info: statistics, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2014 [1993]
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7749-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

The Lineup Card

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction 1

Bill Koski: Pitcher, 1951 Pittsburgh Pirates 5

The role of luck, fate, and circumstance in a player’s career

Ed Sanicki: Outfielder, 1949, 1951 Philadelphia Phillies 19

Four straight 100 RBI seasons in the minors, his first three big league hits are homers

Joe Stanka: Pitcher, 1959 Chicago White Sox 35

An American wins the Most Valuable Player award in Japan

Bill Rohr: Pitcher, 1967 Boston Red Sox; 1968 Cleveland Indians 53

One Pitch away from a no-hitter in his big league debut

Al Autry: Pitcher, 1976 Atlanta Braves 75

The only major league pitcher in the last 57 years to win in his only appearance

Joe Brovia: Outfielder, 1955 Cincinnati Reds 89

One of the Pacific Coast League’s most feared hitters gets his chance at the age of 33

John Leovich: Catcher, 1941 Philadelphia Athletics 103

The best part of baseball is friendship

Bert Shepard: Pitcher, 1945 Washington Senators 115

An ex-fighter pilot becomes the only one-legged player in the history of major league baseball

Ron Necciai: Pitcher, 1952 Pittsburgh Pirates 135

The kid who struck out 27 times in one game

Doug Clarey: Second Baseman, 1976 St. Louis Cardinals 151

His only major league hit is an extra-inning game-winning home run

Marshall Mauldin: Third Baseman, 1934 Chicago White Sox 167

Leaving behind a legacy for future generations

Floyd Giebell: Pitcher, 1939–41 Detroit Tigers 183

The man who out-pitched Bob Feller to clinch the 1940 American League pennant

Bernie Williams: Outfielder, 1970–72 San Francisco Giants; 1974 San Diego Padres

Touted as Willie May’s successor, eventually traded with Willie McCovey

John Paciorek: Outfielder, 1963 Houston Colt .45s 217

Three for three in his only major league game

Frank Leja: First Baseman, 1954–55 New York Yankees; 1962 Los Angeles Angels 229

The life and struggles of a “bonus baby”

Bibliography 247

Index 251

Book Reviews & Awards

“Snelling…has a feel for these baseball footnotes and relates their stories with compassion and wit…excellent”—Booklist; “an intriguing collection of character studies of players who had brilliant but fleeting major league careers”—The Yankees Bookshelf; “remind us both that anyone who reaches the level of major league baseball is extremely talented and that every player is an important part of the history of the game”—The SABR Bulletin; “his interviews reveal both the high points and disappointments”—Library Journal; “profiles in detail 15 players who had their 15 minutes of fame before vanishing in athletic obscurity”—Houston Post.