The Two Lives of Daryl Spencer


Daryl Spencer slugged his way through TWO baseball careers.
Some might remember the Wichita native popping home runs in the majors from 1952-63.

His baseball career rebirth came in Japan for seven subsequent seasons.

The generous former Giant reflected on both baseball journeys in a wondrous handwritten reply to questions. He noted:

“The home run off Don Drysdale (first by a San Francisco Giant) was the first HR hit on the West Coast in the major leagues. Opening day 1958. Also in 1958, Willie Mays and I set a National League record of May 12 & 13. We each hit 2 home runs in consecutive games. That is still a Nat’l League record. It was against the LA Dodgers.

I guess my most vivid memory of the Polo Grounds was our last game there in 1957. The Dodgers and Giants had announced that they were moving to California the following year. We players had to make a wild dash to our clubhouse (it was deep in center field) after the game was over. The fans went crazy. They were grabbing everything they could. I lost my cap but managed to get to our clubhouse okay. Today you see fans rushing on to a playing area all the time, but that was very unusual in the 1950s.

The Polo Grounds were very unique. The short LF and RF stands resulted in a lot of short home runs. I guess the most famous one was hit by Bobby Thomson to beat the Dodgers in the 1951 playoff game. And of course the great catch by Willie Mays against Vic Wertz in the 1954 World Series will always be a great moment in Major League Baseball.”

Tomorrow, hear from “The Monster” about one of Japan’s greatest stars.

2 Responses to “The Two Lives of Daryl Spencer”

  1. Anonymous says:

    Speaking of fans on the field, in the 1959 Giants yearbook there is a pic of Big Dee Spencer rounding third on that first Big League homer in the West. There is a good-looking woman coming out to meet him. A California chick is a whole lot better than a New York mob.

    You had to see Spencer play to see how good he was. He did it all. Homers, doubles, high obp, tough strike-out, hit behind the runner, break up double plays as a runner and turn double plays as a fielder. He turned five double plays in a game, which I think is still a record. He had 20 homers as a rookie, which I think is still a record for a middle infielder.

    He was the biggest and toughest middle infielder of the time, and everybody knew it. He was always a threat to take your knee-cap off with a line drive, or your head off throwing you out, or your leg off slamming into you on the base paths. He could have played for the 49ers in the off-season. In the minors, there was a pitcher so afraid of him that he gave up baseball for golf–that was Chi Chi Rodriguez.

    Spencer was always a fan favorite, and one of those fans was a kid in Oakland named Joe Morgan.

    I saw a pic of Big Dee from the 50 year celebration in SF. He looks just the same as he did 50 years ago but with gray hair.

    iddch@asu.edu

  2. Tom Owens says:

    Wow! Thank you for some sterling insights!!!

    The only thing I can add? Big Dee has amazing penmanship for someone his age. Stay tuned…

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