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Monday, April 14, 2008

Card Of the Week 4/14/08

Tommy Holmes was The Braves' right fielder in the 40's and had one of the most amazing seasons that you have probably never heard about. Tommy was originally signed by the Yankees but was hopelessly blocked by all the Yankees' talent. The Braves traded first baseman Buddy Hassett and outfielder Gene Moore to the Yankees to rescue Tommy from the minors. Gene never played a game for the Yankees and Buddy had one good year before going into the navy for World War 2. Tommy would man right field for the braves for a decade.

Tommy was always an above average hitter, but in 1945 he had an incredible career year. That year he had a 37 game hitting streak, which was the record for the modern era in the National League until Pete Rose broke it in 1978. Tommy was hitting .400 at one point that year before slumping in August after the streak was broken. His .352 batting average was good for 2nd in the National league that year as the Cubs' Phil Cavaretta took the batting crown and the MVP on the last day of the season. Tommy came close the to Triple Crown that year as he was three points behind Phil in the batting race and seven RBIs behind Dixie Walker. Holmes let the league in home runs that year though with 28. While Tommy's previous career high in homers was only 13 the year never hit more than nine home runs in any season after that, there was an even more amazing aspect to his slugging prowess in that year. The same season in which Tommy hit 28 homers, he only struck out nine times. Nine strikeouts is a good week for a lot of free swingers today. Tommy was incredibly difficult to whiff, he only struck out 122 times in almost 5000 at bats in his career.

Tommy retired in 1950 to manage minor league Hartford, but didn't stay there long. He was called up to manage the Braves as a player/manager. His 1951 Topps Red back card can be found with a "Hartford" and "Boston" variation as a result. He managed the team to just over .500 in 1951, but got off to a bad start in 1952 and was released. He was picked up by the Dodgers for their bench and got to finish his career by playing in the 1952 World Series.

Tommy passed away yesterday at the age of 91, to honor him his 1950 Bowman and 2001 SP Legendary Cuts cards are this week's Cards of the Week.

1 comment:

capewood said...

Nice post. I actually own a copy of the SP Legendary Jersey card myself. It's one of my favorite relic cards because of the old fashioned feel of the fabric. I've got Holmes' stats from Baseball-Reference.com but stats aren't necessarily the story of the man. Once in awhile a player has a year like Holmes did in 1945. It's a privileged to watch a player in that kind of grove.