Saturday, March 05, 2005

March 5th, 1921

Elmer Valo Born

Elmer Valo was an outfielder with good on-base skills and occasional power who lasted twenty seasons and played in three decades: the 40s, 50s and 60s. Valo had his best full year in 1951 when he hit .302/.412/.446 for the Philadelphia A's, in the A's first ever season, incidentally, in which they were not managed by Connie Mack.

Valo is notable not so much for his career however, as the place of his birth: he is one of only two men to play Major League Baseball who was born in
Czechoslovakia. His accomplishment--actually, that's a bit of a stretch, let's call it a "feat"--is not solely that he is one of the pair (Carl Linhart is the other) from the geographical area of Czechoslovakia to play in MLB. A handful of others have likewise accomplished that. However, it is rooted in the geographical restlessness of the region. The other men who are listed as being born in "Czechoslovakia" were actually born prior to 1919, when Czechoslovakia was born out of the ruins of the Austro-Hungarian Empire after World War I. And unless there are prospects lurking in the minors that my search failed to turn up, the break-up of Czechoslovakia into the Czech Republic and Slovakia, means Elmer Valo can rest easy (metaphorically speaking, he died in 1998) knowing he and Carl Linhart will remain forever enshrined in trivia history.

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