Thoughts and pictures of my local minor league baseball team the New York Penn League Connecticut Tigers; a Detriot farm team. We'll still be looking at former Navigators/Defenders players along the way....

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Brandon Crawford, Eddie Brinkman and Ted Williams

Brandon and Eddie were the subject of some recents posts so here they are along with Teddy Ballgame. I remember Brinkman very well from my youth and was surprised to see that he died just over a year ago.

Crawford batted .258 (101 for 392) in 108 games with 26 doubles, 4 HRs and 31 RBIs. And as noted he had 100 Ks and 14 errors.

Below is Eddie's obit from the Washington Post:

"Eddie Brinkman, 66, the quintessential "good field, no hit" shortstop who spent 10 seasons with the Washington Senators before being swapped to the Detroit Tigers in the infamous Denny McLain trade in 1971, died Sept. 30 in his home town of Cincinnati, according to an announcement from the Chicago White Sox. No cause of death was given, although friends said he had a heart ailment.

Playing for the Tigers, Mr. Brinkman won a Gold Glove award in 1972, a season in which he played a record 72 consecutive errorless games and finished in the Top 10 for Most Valuable Player honors. He was named to the American League all-star team in 1973.

He had a fine arm and good range but just couldn't hit. He finished his 15-year major league career with a batting average of .224.

Mr. Brinkman was known among fellow ballplayers as congenial and fun-loving -- and a fine pinochle player. With the Senators, the 170-pounder was "Wimpy," in contrast to his roommate, 6-8, 270-pound Frank "Hondo" Howard.

"He was an absolute delight to be around," Howard said. "We were like brothers."

Mr. Brinkman was a pitcher in high school with a commanding fastball and a vicious curve. Howard recalled that the Senators considered putting him back on the mound if his hitting didn't pick up. Nothing came of the notion, Howard said.

"A contending club could carry Brinkman for his glove and never worry about his bat," Washington player Sam Mele once observed.

Unfortunately, the Senators were rarely a contending team.

In 1964, the team was hoping Mr. Brinkman had solved his hitting problems when he got off to a sensational start, hitting .400 in the exhibition season. Once the regular season began, he fell into a prolonged slump and finished with a disappointing .224 average.

"I don't know what the trouble was with me last year," he told The Washington Post during spring training in 1965. "I hit everybody in the spring -- good pitchers. But once the season started I couldn't buy a base hit. I was hitting the ball well but always at somebody."

Mr. Brinkman was activated as a member of the D.C. National Guard to help quell the riots in the city in 1968 and missed more than half the season.

He had his best year in 1969, when he hit .267. He credited Nellie Fox, the Senators' hitting instructor and former all-star second baseman with the White Sox, for advising him to use fat-handled bats, to choke up and to spray the ball to all fields.

He said Manager Ted Williams, one of the game's greatest hitters, helped him master the mental part of hitting. "He beat it into my head what I had to do," Mr. Brinkman said. "He never messed with my stance, my hands or my feet."

At the all-star break in 1970, he was hitting .287, "a giddy height he has not approached since eight summers ago when he played for Raleigh in the Carolina League," Post columnist William Gildea noted. He was leading the team with 102 hits.

"Brinkman used to have trouble hitting his weight, which isn't much," Gildea wrote, "and all his hits for a season back to back would have barely reached the Anacostia River. Now they don't even travel as far, but he chokes up and hits 'em where they ain't, a modern-day Willie Keeler."

Gildea said Mr. Brinkman should have made the all-star team and quoted Senators Coach Wayne Terwilliger: "I'd like to see the last out of the ninth inning, with a man on third and the pennant in the balance, go to Brinkman."

He was traded to the Tigers before the 1971 season, with Joe Coleman, Jim Hannan and Aurelio Rodriguez, for pitcher Denny McLain, among others. McLain, the Tigers ace who won 31 games in 1968, was supposed to be the savior of the lowly Senators but turned out to be a bust.

Mr. Brinkman made the all-star team in 1973, a year in which he played shortstop in all 162 games. In his final season with the Tigers, 1974, he hit 14 home runs, the only time in his career he reached double figures.

Edwin Albert Brinkman was born Dec. 8, 1941. As a high school pitcher on a team whose second baseman was Pete Rose, he compiled a 15-1 record, including a perfect game. He signed with the expansion Senators in 1961 as a 19-year-old.

After his nine seasons with the Senators and four with the Tigers, he played briefly for the St. Louis Cardinals and the New York Yankees before retiring in 1975.

The White Sox hired him as an infield coach in 1983. He stayed with the team as a special assignment scout until his retirement from baseball in 2000.

Survivors include his wife, Donna Brinkman of Cincinnati; and two daughters."

Frank Howard and Eddie Brinkman roommates?!


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