Thursday, June 23, 2005

 

June 23rd, 1994

Marv Throneberry Dies


Having done "Fabulous Faye" yesterday, it seems fitting to turn to his better known brother. Marv Throneberry was a Yankee prospect who had a few mediocre years for the more prominent New York franchise until being dispatched—like seemingly all failed Yankee prospects in the 60s--to the Kansas City A's as part of a trade for Roger Maris. Throneberry played a mediocre season with the A's and part of another before he was traded to Baltimore for Gene Stephens (noted yesterday as one of the Red Sox other "caddies") in June of 1961.

Having seen Marv for just over a hundred at-bats, the Orioles decided they'd had plenty of him and sent him to the expansion Mets. Throneberry was a natural fit for the team, even down to his initials, Marvin Eugene Throneberry, MET. Of course, it was as a Met that the legend of "Marvelous Marv" was born. Before I get into the Marvelous Marv stories, and fear not, I will get there, it’s worth nothing that while Throneberry was pretty bad, for the 1962 Mets, he wasn't that bad. His 93 OPS+ ranked fourth among regulars and he had the second highest slugging percentage on the team. He did manage to make seventeen errors at first base, in just ninety-seven games, a rate not even topped by the Mike Piazza First Base Follies of 2004.

What cemented the Throneberry legend however, was the legion of stories about him from the '62 Mets. Like the stories of his manager, Casey Stengel, chances are only a small percentage of the stories about Throneberry are true, but what the hell, they're all good fun. The personal favorite of Brendan Boyd and Fred Harris (whom I quoted yesterday) was the time the Mets decided to throw Casey Stengel a birthday party complete, of course, with cake. Throneberry noticed that while all of his teammates had received some of the confection, he had not and complained. Stengel, so goes the legend, leaned over to his first baseman and in a stage whisper announced "We wuz gonna give you a piece, Marv, but we wuz afraid you'd drop it."

My favorite Marv Throneberry story is almost certainly apocryphal, but I love it so much I'm willing to ignore that. It goes that one day in 1962 Throneberry hit a triple for the Mets, a rare feat for him (he only had eight in his career) although not one for the '62 Mets who actually ranked fifth in the league in that statistic. However, in this particular case the umpires called Marv out for missing second base. Stengel came out to argue and began to protest that his first baseman had in fact touched second base and should therefore be safe. The umpire, however, interrupted. "Don't argue too hard Casey, he missed first too."





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