Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sunday School: History Lesson 54

Burt Shotton was a swift-footed outfielder with a good eye at the plate in his playing days. He spent most of his playing career in St. Louis, playing for both the Browns and Cardinals. He twice led the American League in walks and stole 35 or more bases in 5 straight seasons. While playing with the Cardinals, Shotton would unofficially fill in on Sundays for manager Branch Rickey, as Rickey observed Christian Sabbath. Shotton would later spend six years as the skipper of the Phillies after beginning his true managerial career in the Cardinals farm system.

In his time as Philadelphia's manager, Shotton helped the team achieve a brief rise in the standings, up to 4th place from 8th (last) place. He took the Phils from a 43 win team in 1928 to an above .500 club in 1932. It was the Phillies' first winning record in 15 years and their last for the next 17 years.

Shotton's arrival coincided with an influx of offensive talent. Players like outfielder Chuck Klein, first baseman Don Hurst, outfielder Lefty O'Doul and third baseman Pinky Whitney arrived in the late 1920's to give the Phillies a boost and to serve as a solid middle of the lineup for Philadelphia.

After the winning season in 1932, the Phillies quickly fell back into old habits, losing 92 games and finishing in 7th place in 1933, which led to the Phillies parting ways with Shotton. After that, Shotton would go on to coach for the Reds and Indians before he retired from the field & clubhouse then took a scouting position with the Dodgers, where Branch Rickey was the general manager. The "retirement" didn't last long as Shotton was summoned to Brooklyn at the start of the 1947 season and asked, by Rickey, to take the reins of the Dodgers as manager.

Shotton inherited a tough situation in Brooklyn, as, within weeks of taking the managerial gig, the Dodgers ended the racial segregation of Major League Baseball when Jackie Robinson joined the team. The Dodgers won 92 regular season games and the National League pennant that year.

Also of note, Shotton is believed to be the last MLB manager to wear a suit, instead of the typical uniform that the players of the team wear.

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