October 14, 2013
by William Szczepanek
Mike Sandlock was a switch-hitting utility player who is best known as a catcher, but also played third, short and second base. His first year in the majors was 1942 for the Boston Braves. He entered WWII the next year and rejoined Boston the following year. He played for the Dodgers in 1945 and 1946, and spent 3 years in the minors before playing for one year with the Pittsburgh Pirates. In December of 1953 his contract was purchased by the Philadelphia Phillies from the Pittsburgh Pirates. His brand new card for 1954 (Topps #104) shows him playing for the Phillies, but he never made it back to the Majors that year, so his last year of playing was in 1953 for the Pirates.
Sandlock was a career .240 hitter. In 1945 when he played more than half of a season's games for the Brooklyn Dodgers he batted a respectable .282. He played in only 19 games for the Dodgers in 1946 before being sent to the minors, losing his job to Bruce Edwards, one of the better catchers in the league at the time. His baseball card indicates that he and Johnny Lindell will be teamed up for the Phillies in 1954 and that Mike had been catching his knuckball in the minors since 1936. Mike was acquired by the Phillies specifically to catch Lindell's knuckler; but, before Mike would get a chance to catch Lindell he was involved in a home plate collision which badly injured his knee and ended his playing career.
Why write about Mike Sandlock? He is significant for 2 reasons. At age 97, he is currently the third oldest person to have played in the Majors, behind Connie Marrero (102) and Ace Parker (101). He will celebrate his 98th birthday soon on October 17th.
The other reason to write about Mike Sandlock is that not only is he distinguished by his age, but I still have his 1954 card which remains one of a handful of cards that I first bought when I began collecting in 1954. Never saw him play. Never remember him being talked about, but I will always remember his 1954 baseball card. ─ Happy Birthday Mike.
In an article by Scott Ericson when Sandlock was honored for being the oldest living Dodger, Sandlock replied, "An honor? I can't feel anything at this age. What the hell honor? Like that sign up there says, I never made the Hall of Fame but I had a lot of fun. I have memories."
Ericson also explained that Sandlock feels the modern game moves too slowly compared to when he played. He feels too much time is spent today with pitchers walking around the mound, the catcher going to the mound then the entire infield going to the mound and guys constantly adjusting their batting gloves and stepping out of the batter's box.
Ironically, Johnny Lindell's card from 1954 is also part of my handful. He never pitched for the Phillies in 1954, possibly because no one but Sandlock could handle his knuckler.
I never knew until I researched this article that Mike and Johnny were connected.
You can check out Sandlocks' stats at Baseball-Reference.com.