third basemen

This post details the careers of some third basemen from the Negro Leagues who haven’t made the Hall of Fame.

A switch-hitting third baseman from Mississippi, Howard Easterling was a fixture at third base in the Negro League All-Star Games of the 1940s.  Howard manned the hot corner for the Homestead Grays.  He was an integral member of the Grays World Champion team of 1943 but after the season he was drafted for duty in the military during WWII.  Although a fine player, he was also crafty and cunning.  When he learned of his draft notice, he swindled Grays owner Cum Posey out of some money when he requested advance pay for the upcoming ’44 season, which he knew he wasn’t going to play in.

A four-time All-Star in the Negro League ranks, Parnell Woods played for a number of teams before settling in with the Cleveland Buckeyes during WWII.  The team leader of the Buckeyes, Woods helped the club sweep the Grays in the 1945 World Series.  Although a fine ballplayer with good skills, one can liken him to former Cardinals shortstop Marty Marion in that both men were fine players who played through World War II.  Both men added to their numbers when the level of play was greatly diminished.

Best known for having his nose bitten off by teammate Frank Warfield when he couldn’t pay his debt in a dice game, Oliver Marcelle was an exceptional hot corner custodian–with or without a nasal instrument.  In a poll by the Pittsburgh Courier in 1952, Oliver was selected over Hall of Famer Ray Dandridge and Judy Johnson as the Negro League’s best third baseman.  A delight to watch on the field, Marcelle excelled with the leather and was remindful of Frankie Frisch of the Major Leagues.  The sketchy stats kept by the Negro Leagues show Marcelle as a lifetime .305 hitter.

image of Oliver “The Ghost” Marcelle

Like Howard Easterling, Pat Patterson was a switch-hitting third baseman who played around World War II.  Noted as a good contact hitter with just modest power, Pat was a heady infielder who played for the Philadelphia Stars before the war and the Newark Eagles afterwards.  Like the great Cecil Travis of the Senators, Patterson missed the better part of four seasons to the war effort.  When he returned from the military, he hit .321 to help the Eagles defeat the Kansas City Monarchs in the World Series. 

A Renaissance Man, Dave Malarcher had nicknames like “Preacher” and “Gentleman Dave.”  After his days in baseball, he published some poetry.  However, before channeling Walt Whitman, Malarcher was considered one of the top third basemen of the Lively Ball Era.  Dave became the perfect pupil for Negro League godfather Rube Foster and was named the team captain of Foster’s American Giants dynasty of the 1920s.  A deft defender, the switch-hitting Malarcher was adequate offensively and did his best hitting in the clutch.  It is said that he earned the nickname “Gentleman Dave” because he would apologize to opponents after spiking them.

This lists consists of Hall of Fame eligible third basemen that have not been profiled on this blog.  They are listed in order of runs scored.

Billy Nash (1,077), Billy Shindle (992), Red Rolfe (942), Travis Fryman (895), Ken Caminiti (894), George Pinkney (874), Terry Pendleton (851), Sparky Adams (844), Phil Garner (780), Gregg Jefferies (761), Howard Johnson (760), Jimmy Johnston (754), Enos Cabell (753), Dean Palmer (734), Eddie Foster (732), Bobby Byrne (667), Jimmy Austin (661), Ray Boone (645), Doug Rader (631), Buck Weaver (623), Andy High (618), Aurelio Rodriguez (612), Art Devlin (603)

Don Hoak (598), Joe Mulvey (598), Bobby Adams (591), Doc Casey (585), Charlie Hayes (580), Dave Hollins (578), Joe Stripp (575), Ken McMullen (568), Grady Hatton (562), Bob Horner (560), Ossie Vitt (560), Ken Oberkfell (558), Charlie Irwin (554), Jim Davenport (552), Jerry Royster (552), Frank O’Rourke (547), Bernie Friberg (544), Scott Brosius (544), Brook Jacoby (535), Jim Ray Hart (518), Dave Magadan (516), Bob Kennedy (514), Ed Sprague (506), Roy Hartzell (503), Steve Buechele (501)

Bill Melton (496), Ray Knight (490), Lenny Randle (488), Cookie Lavagetto (487), Mike Mowrey (485), Sammy Strang (479), Tom Brookens (477), Jim Tabor (473), Billy Cox (470), Mike Pagliarulo (462), Vance Law (453), Rance Mulliniks (445), Luis Salazar (438), Paul Schaal (436), Barry McCormick (432), Kelly Gruber (431), Gene Freese (429), Roy Howell (422), Sammy Hale (422), Rich Rollins (419), Billy Johnson (419), Jeep Handley (418), Randy Jackson (412), Frenchy Bordagaray (410), Hank Majeski (404)

Bob Aspromonte (386), Wayne Gross (373), George Moriarty (372), Denny Walling (372), Jim Morrison (371), Andy Carey (371), Ken Reitz (366), Don Zimmer (353), Bubba Phillips (348), Jack Howell (345), Darnell Coles (333), Lee Tannehill (331), Sean Berry (310), Craig Paquette (304), Lew Riggs (298), Mike Blowers (290), Bill Stein (268), Art Howe (268), Tim Hulett (245), Dale Berra (236), Charley Smith (228) and Kurt Bevacqua (214)

An exceptional batsman, Kevin Seitzer was a solid third baseman for a number of years, first in Kansas City and later in Milwaukee.  The Royals thought so highly of Seitzer in 1987 that they moved Hall of Famer George Brett across the diamond to open up third base for him.  Although he was no George Brett, Kevin was a reliable ballplayer with a knack for putting the ball in play.  Kevin typically walked more than he struck out and was a threat to hit .300 every season.  A two-time All-Star, Seitzer retired with a rather enviable career batting average and on-base percentage.

Seitzer was drafted by the Royals in the 11th round out of Eastern Illinois College.  It was unlikely that an 11th round pick would force a team to move a player of George Brett’s caliber, but after Kevin impressed in a late season trial with Kansas City in 1986, that’s exactly what happened in 1987.  The Royals shifted Brett to first base and gave the third base assignment to the rookie.  Seitzer rewarded the Royals with one of the greatest rookie seasons ever recorded.  He led the American League with 207 hits, scored 105 runs, hit .323 and posted an amazing .390 on-base percentage.  However, despite these awe-inspiring freshman numbers, Seitzer was denied the Rookie of the Year Award because some gorilla named Mark McGwire hit a lot of homeruns. 

After a rookie season that allowed him to make the All-Star team, Kevin had another .300 season as a sophomore in 1988.  His numbers were rather close to what they had been as a rookie with the exception of his power stats.  He swatted fifteen dingers as a rookie but only managed five long balls as a sophomore.  Those fifteen freshman homeruns would be the most Seitzer would tally over the course of a season as he never duplicated his early slugging numbers.  But despite his loss of power, Kevin was a mighty serviceable ballplayer.  In 1989 he drew 102 walks which enabled him to post a solid OBP of .387–which was fifty points higher than his slugging percentage. 

Seitzer’s batting average fell steadily each year after his rookie season and after a injury-plagued 1991 season the Royals cut ties with Kevin.  He signed a free agent deal with the Brewers in 1992 with plenty to prove.  He showed the Royals that they gave up on him too soon with a healthy ’92 campaign in Wisconsin.  Seitzer, who led the AL in errors at third base twice while in Kansas City, paced the junior circuit with a .969 fielding percentage (20 points above league average) for the Brew Crew.  He rebounded with the stick also to drive in 71 runs. 

Granted free agency after the season, Seitzer signed with the A’s in 1993 but ended the season back in Milwaukee.  Seitzer hit a combined .269 between the two teams before reeling off three straight seasons with a batting average above .310.  Kevin hit .314 in the strike-shortened ’94 season and in 1995 he made his second All-Star team.  That year Kevin hit .311 with a .395 on-base percentage.  But he was even better the following season.  Near the end of the ’96 season, the Brewers sent Kevin to the contending Indians where he hit a lusty .386 down the stretch.  Between the two teams, Kevin hit .326 with an amazing .416 on-base percentage.  Seitzer played one final year with the Indians before retiring.


G 1,439/R 739/H 1,557/2B 285/3B 35/HR 74/RBI 613/SB 80/BB 669/SO 617/BA .295/OBP .375/SA .404

Jumping Joe Dugan was the starting third baseman for the Babe Ruth led Yankees of the 1920s.  The Holy Cross product was a serviceable batter and above average defender who led third basemen in fielding percentage in two separate seasons.  Because he was on the same roster as the Great Bambino, Jumping Joe took part in five World Series and won three of them.  Like a number of the Yankees stars of the time, Dugan was acquired via the Red Sox who had a penchant for giving their top talent to New York after World War I.

Originally a Connie Mack find, Dugan made his Major League debut with the Athletics in 1917.  This was still considered the Deadball Era and Dugan failed to hit .200 in his first two seasons in the Majors.  In the infamous 1919 season, Joe raised his batting average up to .271 before he broke out in 1920.  The Deadball Era came to a sudden close in 1920 thanks to a new, tighter wound baseball and the outlaw of several pitches, to include the spitball, and the result was a spike in batting across the board.  Jumping Joe hit a mighty .322 and set a personal high with 40 doubles that season. 

Never much of a power threat, Dugan hit a career high ten homeruns in 1921 for the lowly Athletics.  Connie Mack’s dynasty of Plank, Bender, Collins and Baker was a thing of the past and his teams of the late 1910s and early 1920s were American League doormats.  Before the 1922 season began Mr. Mack used Jumping Joe as bait to acquire solid-hitting outfielder Bing Miller from the Senators.  The trade worked well for both sides although Dugan never played a game for Washington.  He was promptly sent to the Red Sox for future MVP Roger Peckinpaugh.  Boston, however, held onto Jumping Joe for just half a season before trading him to the Yankees for a bunch of spare pieces and $50,000 for non-baseball related purposes.  Dugan became a star in pinstripes.

In his first full year with the Yankees, Joe set personal highs in both runs scored and RBI.  He crossed the plate 111 times (7th in the AL) for the pennant capturing Yankees and paced American League third basemen in fielding percentage.  His Yankees took on the Giants of John McGraw in the World Series and bested them as Dugan hit .280 with five Fall Classic RBI.  In 1924 Jumping Joe posted his second straight season of 100+ runs scored, working as a table setter for sluggers Ruth and Bob Meusel.  Gehrig would join the Yankees that season and give the Bronx Bombers another amazing run producer.

Dugan again paced third basemen in fielding percentage in 1925 and in ’26 he would make his third World Series appearance.  During the 1926 regular season he plated 64 runs and in the Fall Classic Jumping Joe hit .333 but in a losing cause.  However, he would be a member of World Champion teams the next two seasons as the Yankees won the World Series in both 1927 and ’28.  His playing time began to slip in 1928 and the Yankees waived him after the season.  The Braves plucked him off the waiver wire and he spent a season with Boston before playing his final game with the 1931 Tigers.


G 1,447/R 665/H 1,516/2B 277/3B 46/HR 42/RBI 571/SB 37/BB 250/SO 419/BA .280/OBP .317/SA .372

Clete was always in the shadow of two great third basemen: his brother Ken and the Orioles’ Brooks Robinson.  Since he shared the same last name as one of the top hot corner custodians in the game, Clete was often compared to brother Ken.  And since he played in the same league with Robinson, they were often judged against one another as well.  The outcome was that Clete wasn’t the hitter brother Ken was and wasn’t quite the fielder that Brooks was, but he was, nevertheless, a steady, dependable third baseman.

Clete followed brothers Cloyd and Ken to the Major Leagues in 1955 when the Kansas City A’s called upon the young prospect.  He played in 47 games as an 18-year-old and had 129 at-bats as a 19-year-old but he spent the next two seasons in the bushes to get the minor league seasoning time he needed.  Clete was a “bonus baby” who had to remain on the Major League roster for two years after he signed in an odd bit of amateur manipulation.  While he was in the minors he was sent to the Yankees as the player to be named later in the Bobby Shantz trade.  Clete would return to the Majors in 1959 and became the Yankees everyday third baseman in 1960. 

Although Boyer never set the world afire with his batting, he had modest power and was an exceptional defender.  As New York’s regular third baseman in 1960, he swatted 14 homeruns while teammates Mantle and Maris did the heavier hitting.  At third, Clete’s fielding percentage was 16 points above league average.  When he ended his playing days, Boyer had a fielding percentage of .965–fifteen points above league average–but since he played in the era of Brooks Robinson, he only led third basemen in fielding percentage once and nabbed just one Gold Glove–in the National League where Brooks was absent.

The Yankees were a powerhouse at this time and they went to five straight World Series with Clete as their everyday man at third base.  In 1961, when Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth’s single season homerun record, Boyer helped New York make the Fall Classic and Clete hit .267 in the series.  His best Fall Classic showing came the following year when he hit .318 against the Giants.  But hitting was never Clete’s specialty.  In ’62 he paced third basemen in both putouts and assists on a .964 fielding percentage. 

After his worst offensive season to date in 1964, Boyer rebounded with one of his best seasons in ’65.  That year Clete hit 18 homeruns and his on-base percentage was back up above .300.  But the Yankees failed to capture the AL flag and their worst seasons were fast approaching.  Maris and Mantle couldn’t stay healthy and the dynasty was broken up.  Clete played one final year with the Yankees before he was traded to the Braves for Chi-Chi Olivo.  In Atlanta Boyer was asked to produce runs and he responded with his single best offensive season his first year in Georgia with a 26 homerun, 96 RBI season.  Clete’s previous highs had been 18 HR/68 RBI.  Defensively, he presented an impregnable wall with a .970 fielding percentage–21 points above league average.

Boyer missed some action in 1968 but was back to everyday duty in ’69.  That year he won his only Gold Glove Award as he posted a fielding percentage 20 points above league average.  Boyer had one final good year left in 1970 when he hit 16 homeruns with 62 RBI but the next year he and the Braves brass butted heads and his career was seemingly over.  Clete left the Braves and signed on to play in Japan where he was fan favorite despite his age.  He played sharp baseball–the same brand he played in the Majors–for a few years overseas before he called it a career.


G 1,725/R 645/H 1,396/2B 200/3B 33/HR 162/RBI 654/SB 41/BB 470/SO 931/BA .242/OBP .299/SA .372

As a young ballplayer in the 1970s, DeCinces had the daunting task of replacing an aging Brooks Robinson at third base in Baltimore.  Up to the task offensively, Doug, even though he was a solid defender at the hot corner, couldn’t make Orioles fans forget the legendary vacuum cleaner that was Brooks.  A solid power hitter throughout his career, the former All-Star finished third in MVP voting in 1982 and currently rests in the #33 spot for career assists among third basemen.  Although he had a tough act to follow, Doug was a terrific Major League ballplayer.

Drafted by the Orioles in 1970, Baltimore gave Doug his first Major League look in 1973.  The Birds didn’t need to rush DeCinces because Brooks Robinson was still in town so they took their time grooming Doug as a replacement for Robby.  At the age of 38 in 1975, Robinson had a dismal year with the stick as his batting average was just a hair above .200.  The following year DeCinces took Robinson’s job and reached double digits in homeruns–he would never spend a season in the Majors in which he didn’t reach double digits in dingers.  Defensively though Doug made 19 errors and fielded third base 13 points below league average.  Baltimore fans weren’t too warm to DeCinces at first but he would eventually polish his defense.

DeCinces raised his fielding percentage to .958 in 1977 which was right at league average.  He topped the position with 330 assists and also tallied 124 putouts.  Offensively, he racked up nineteen homeruns but had his breakout year in 1978.  That season Doug blasted 28 homeruns and chased home 80 teammates on a .286 batting average.  He did his best Brooks Robinson routine defensively as he fielded third base at a .975 clip–a whopping 22 points above league average.  If Baltimore didn’t accept Doug then, then they didn’t deserve him.

But Doug began to regress both offensively and defensively in 1979.  His homerun total and run production numbers suffered that year and when he mirrored them in 1980, it appeared that the ’78 season was simply a fluke.  Although he helped Baltimore reach the World Series in ’79, his numbers were a far cry from their lofty ranking in 1978.  His bat started to come back around in the strike shortened 1981 season and he topped third basemen in putouts that year but it wasn’t enough for the Birds.  Before the 1982 season began they made a foolish trade when they sent Doug to California for Disco Dan Ford.  The trade lit a fire under DeCinces and he enjoyed his greatest season in 1982.

In 1982 Doug established career highs in nearly every offensive category.  The slugger blasted 30 homeruns and drove in 97 runs.  He hit .300 for the first and only time in his career, slugged at a .548 clip, socked 42 doubles, scored 94 runs and banged out 173 hits.  Defensively he led third basemen with 399 assists.  For his exceptional worksheet, Doug finished third in MVP voting as he led the Angels to an AL West flag.  Although he hit a nifty .316 in the ALCS, Milwaukee raced to the title and beat the Halos en route to the World Series. But after his breakout year DeCinces wasn’t about to lay around and give way to relaxation.  He burst out of the gate in 1983 just as strong as he was in ’82 but an injury derailed his season and once he was out of the lineup the Angels faded away quickly.

Healthy again in 1984, Doug socked 20 long balls for the Angels.  He matched that output the following year before exploding in 1986.  The third baseman clubbed 26 homeruns and drove in 96 runs for the AL West Champion Angels of 1986.  He clubbed a famous homerun off Red Sox ace Roger Clemens in the ALCS but Boston would get revenge and take the series before losing the Fall Classic on an infamous slow roller off the bat of Mookie Wilson.  DeCinces spent one last year in the Majors and hit 16 homeruns with the Angels in 1987.  He ventured off to Japan and played one final season overseas before ending his playing days.


G 1,649/R 778/H 1,505/2B 312/3B 29/HR 237/RBI 879/SB 58/BB 618/SO 904/BA .259/OBP .329/SA .445

A terrific third baseman for the Brewers during the 1970s, Money, a four-time All-Star, was a solid defender with a good bat.  An elite hot corner custodian, Don led third basemen twice in fielding percentage during his career and retired with a .968 fielding percentage at third base–a whopping nineteen points above league average.  With modest power and a well above average glove, Money was one of the top third basemen of the 1970s.

Don made his debut with the 1968 Phillies.  He had a brief four-game trial late in the season but he showed enough to win an everyday assignment in 1969.  The Phillies initially groomed Money as a shortstop, but in 1970 they shifted him over to third base.  His offense spiked after the change in position as Don raised his homerun output from six in 1969 to 14 in ’70.  He hit a robust .295 with a solid .361 on-base percentage as a sophomore but he would slump the next two seasons.  Money hit .223 in 1971 and a point lower in 1972.  With a young Mike Schmidt in town, the Phillies had no further use for the struggling Money and shipped him off to the Brewers with Pete Vuckovich for Ken Brett, Ken Sanders and Jim Lonborg.  Don settled in nicely at Milwaukee.

The change of scenery worked wonders for Don.  He raised his batting average from .222 to .284 and set a career high with 22 stolen bases.  He flashed exceptional leather with a .971 fielding percentage while his position peers fielded at a modest .949 clip.  The following year he would make his first All-Star appearance and set career highs in both hits and doubles.  Showing remarkable consistency in Wisconsin, Money’s batting average and on-base percentage were just one point off from his previous season.  He led third basemen in fielding percentage with a remarkable .989 mark–an amazing 37 points above league average. 

Don enjoyed his best year for run production in 1977 when he was named to his third All-Star team.  He set personal highs with 25 homeruns and 83 RBI while slugging at a nifty .470 clip.  An All-Star again in ’78, Money hit .293 and established his career high in runs scored.  But by this time the Brewers began using Don all over the infield in order to work a young Paul Molitor into the lineup.  He spent more time at first base than he did at the hot corner in ’78.  But 1978 would be Don’s last year as a regular.  An injury limited him to 92 games in 1979 and when the Brewers finally made the Playoffs in 1981, Don was in a platoon situation at third with Roy Howell and Sal Bando.  But Don still had one good year in the tank.  In 1982 he set a career high with a .531 slugging average as he blasted 16 homeruns as a reserve player.  Milwaukee made the World Series that year but fell to St. Louis.  Money played briefly for the Brew Crew the following year, his last in the Majors.


G 1,720/R 798/H 1,623/2B 302/3B 36/HR 176/RBI 729/SB 80/BB 600/SO 866/BA .261/OBP .328/SA .406