Tuesday, September 05, 2006

September 5th, 1900

Merv Shea Born

I like players born in years like 1900 or 1950; it's always easy to calculate how old they are, which is always nice for someone like me, who is not so good at the ol' math. In the case of Merv Shea, that helped me noticed him, since his 1927 debut (albeit at age twenty-six) is unusually late for someone born in 1900. If those dates had been, say, born in 1911 and debuted in 1937, I might have skipped right over him. I also noticed because Shea's final season came in 1944, also late for someone born in 1900, and even more so for a catcher like Shea.

To be fair, there were probably a couple of other factors at work in Shea's 1944 season. For one, that was one of the war years, when Major League players were hard to come by, but forty-four year olds were not exactly prime draft material. Shea hadn't caught in the Major Leagues since 1939, although whether he was resting his knees at home or bouncing around the minors I don't know. Generally speaking, he had less wear and tear on him at forty-four than say, Carlton Fisk did given he only caught more than a hundred games in a season once, and more than fifty just twice.

Shea made the most of his last go-around, hitting .267/.421/.467 in extremely limited time as the oldest player in the league. Shea would not live much longer, dying in 1953, a sad but fittingly easy way to calculate end to his life.

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