Johnny Mize 1952 #129
by William Szczepanek
This 1952 card of Johnny Mize is somewhat of a surprise for inclusion in the Baseball Card Hall of Fame since Mize was in the twilight of his career in 1952 and would retire in 1953 after playing part-time in 1952 and 1953. At age 39 Mize hit .400, got 6 hits and 3 home runs in the winning effort for the Yankees in the 1952 World Series. He was robbed of a 4th and walk off home run by a leaping catch over the fence by Carl Furillo. Mize hit only 4 home runs in the entire 1952 season.
A ten-time All Star Johnny Mize, The Big Cat, got his nickname from his agility around the bag at first base. He played 15 seasons for the St. Louis Cardinals, New York Giants and New York Yankees. Mize led the league in various categories throughout his career: triples (16) and Slugging (.614) in 1939; home runs (28) in 1939, (43) in 1940, (51) in 1947, and (40) in 1948; runs scored (137) in 1947; and the batting title (.349) in 1939. A good contact hitter, Mize was the only player to strike out fewer than fifty times while hitting fifty home runs. Mize hit a career 359 career home runs. He holds the record hitting three homers in one game, which he accomplished six times.
“Did you ever see a pitcher knock him down at the plate? Remember how he reacted when brushed back? He’d just lean back and on his left foot, bend his body back and let the pitch go by. Then he’d lean back into the batter’s box and resume his stance, as graceful as a big cat.” ─ Stan Musial
Mize is one of the few players whose prime years were in the 1930s and 1940s and would just scrape the 1950s at the very beginning of the Golden Age of Baseball Cards. He spent the years of 1943 through 1945 in the Navy. Mize is one of the few players written about in this website who I have never seen play in person or on television, or at least I was too young to remember him even if I did see him, but it is unlikely that I witnessed his playing since we did not get our first television set until 1954 and that's when my actual baseball recollections begin.
Johnny Mize was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veteran's Committee as a Player in 1981.
You can check out Mize's statistics at Baseball Reference.com.