Showing posts with label Major Leagues. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Major Leagues. Show all posts

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Bob Oldis' Missed Opportunity Against Satchel Paige In The Major Leagues


Bob Oldis only played in seven games during his 1953 rookie season with the Washington Senators, yet one almost perfect game stands out in his mind almost 70 years later. 

On June 25, 1953, Oldis was placed in the starting lineup against the St. Louis Browns. Making only his second major league start, he played flawlessly. He went 3-3 at the plate with an RBI, and threw out the lone baserunner who dared to steal that day. 

Most rookies would have been elated with that type of performance, but something about that game didn't sit right with the young catcher. With the Senators down 3-1 in the bottom of the 9th inning, Oldis was due to bat third in the inning. 

Pitching in relief for the Browns was the ageless Satchel Paige. Undaunted by his presence, the first two batters were able to get on base with a walk and a single. This set the stage for Oldis, who was swinging a hot bat that day, to be the hero ... or so he thought. 

As he approached the top steps of the dugout, Oldis represented the winning run. After battering starter Harry Breechen for three hits, the tap on the shoulder from manager Bucky Harris wasn't what he expected. Instead of words of encouragement, Harris let him know outfielder Carmen Mauro would be taking his place at the plate. 

Dejected, Oldis returned to the dugout to watch Mauro hit a pop-up to third base, and Gil Coan finish the game by hitting into a 4-6-3 double play. He never was able to test himself against Satchel Paige in the majors, as he was sent down a short time afterwards.

When the 93-year-old was reached recently via a letter to his Arizona home, I asked if he was upset with Harris' decision to remove him for a pinch-hitter against Paige.

"Yes!" Oldis wrote. 

Oldis later had his chance to face Paige in the minor leagues during the 1958 season when he played for the Richmond Virginians and Paige hurled for the Miami Marlins; however, seven decades later it is the meeting they didn't have that stands out in his memory.