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Gems from the SABR minor league database


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The Society for American Baseball Research has an ongoing project to put together a database of every minor league season/league/player/team in history. Little bit of effort involved there.

It's in an embryonic stage right now, but there's still a ton of interesting and useful data out there. There have been dozens upon dozens of leagues playing over the last 120+ years, so there are thousands of interesting players and teams and stories just waiting to be discovered, or rediscovered. All kinds of guys you've never heard of who hit .410 with 57 homers in some long defunct league in Arizona in 1946.

I dig around in the database once in a while, and when I find a few gems I'll post them here.

First one is Leon Cato. Played eight years in the minors, got as high as AA a couple times. Missed a big chunk of his career to WWII. But in 1947 he had a pretty decent year for Borger in the West Texas-New Mexico League. Hit .410 with 48 doubles, 18 triples, 32 homers, and a .732 slugging percentage. Pretty much set career highs in everything by a hundred miles. The rest of his career he didn't hit 32 homers, total. Set highs in average by 111 points, doubles by 17, and triples by 12. If he played today people would scream "steroids!!!!" You gotta wonder what was in the water in Borger that year.

The second player you may have heard of if you really dug into the old Bill James Historical Abstract: Ray Perry. Perry's numbers speak for themselves. He was a monster. Another guy who lost time to the war, he played in some middling leagues in the 40s and 50s and usually led them in everything. I mean, homers, steals, walks, average. And usually by a lot. He almost certainly was a major leaguer, but injuries, the war, and bad luck kept him in leagues lost to history.

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  • 3 months later...

Remembered this thread on the 107th anniversary of Corsicana beating Texarkana 51-3.

A guy named Sam Deskin played for both Corsicana, and the franchise that began the year representing the Sherman-Denison metropolitan area and later moved to Texarkana. I don't know anything much about Deskin, and I'm not sure anyone does. But somehow he played for five teams in the Texas League in '02, and represented seven different cities. At the age of 14.

He took '03 off, but then played for two teams representing three cities in '04. And played for three teams in the same league in '05.

At that point his pro career ended, at the age of 17, having played only 220 games but having played ball for 10 different cities.

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