Perhaps one of the most unassuming stars of the great New York Yankee teams of the 1950s, Gil McDougald was a star in his own right. Rookie-of-the-Year in 1951, McDougald hit career high .306 that year and led the Yankees in batting average on a team that included the likes of Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra. A five-time all-star, McDougald was also a favorite of manager Casey Stengel. In fact, prior to his days with New York, McDougald was also a favorite of one of baseball’s toughest minor league skippers, Rogers Hornsby, a guy who really did like young ball players. But when McDougald joined Hornsby’s Beaumont AA club, the baseball great took an immediate liking to the youngster. And, when Hornsby was invited to the Yankees spring training camp in 1951, Hornsby gave New York a glowing evaluation of McDougald. One of Gil’s greatest attributes was his ability to play second, short and third. He came up as a second baseman, moved to third and when Yankee great Phil Rizzuto retired, McDougald slid over to short without problem. Gil’s defense was as solid as anyone’s. He had an accurate arm, could go deep in the hole, and rarely made an error. At the plate he had an incredible penchant for coming through in the clutch, and he found himself in the middle of many crucial post-season rallies. While not the greatest player in the Yankees storied lineup of the 1950s, he was one the key ingredients, glue that kept the team together. In his 10-years in New York, the Yankees won the pennant eight times, and five times the Yankees won it all. McDougald is also known for one of baseball’s most tragic events, the line-drive off his bat that ruined the career of Herb Score, one the game’s brightest young pitchers. While it was an accident, it still affected Gil despite Score telling him that it was just a part of the game. Bill Lamb, best-known for his research about players from the Dead Ball-era, wrote a terrific biography about his favorite players of the 1950s (despite the fact that he was a New York Giants fan) and joins SFH for a wonderful discussion about one of the Yankees forgotten stars.
Gil McDougald SABR Bio
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