Wednesday, July 20, 2005

 

July 20th, 1896

Bob Meusel Born


Known as "Long Bob" for his height--6'3"--he was the tallest player on the 1927 Yankees and a member in good standing of Murder's Row, having his best season that year. (As an aside, 6'3" is still tall, but it’s interesting how ballplayers have changed; the last truly great Yankee team of 1998 had more than ten players 6'3" or taller.) Meusel had a relatively short career, playing just ten years, all but one for the Yankees, retiring after a single season with the Reds in 1930.

Meusel and his brother Emil, universally known as "Irish" (the nickname is wrong incidentally, he apparently really looked Irish, but wasn’t) played each other in three straight World Series, 1921-23, with Irish and the Giants taking the first two and the Yankees finally winning their third appearance in 1923. The brothers were an interesting pairing. Irish is generally listed at nearly four inches shorter than his brother but otherwise they seem relatively similar; Bob finished with a career .309/.356/.497 while Irish, who was the older brother but slightly lesser ballplayer finished at .310/.348/464. Both were leftfielders and both ended their career with the same OPS+ of 119, with Bob accomplishing his in roughly seven hundred more plate appearances.

Besides their height, the primary difference between the men was their throwing arms. Bob was reputed to have one of the best arms in the league, possibly the best of his generation (he played left field because the Yankees had a right fielder you might have heard of, Babe Ruth) while Irish's arm was notoriously poor. This is best summed up by a story Bill James relates: Irish was walking down the street with John McGraw when a one-armed man came up--very drunk--and began his tale of woe:

"Pardon me, sir, I had the misfortune to lose my arm--"
McGraw cut him off, "get on your way, Irish ain't got it."





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