Herb Plews, Diplomatic Senator

Herb Plews last played in the majors in 1959. However, even at age 81, no one will sneak a pitch past him.

I sent the retired infielder a couple of questions. I printed out a piece of stationery reading, “Herb Plews, Major League Infielder, 1956-59.”

Herb chose to use the back of my letter for a reply. He did supply me with a major league effort filled with humility, humor and insight.

“Had to laugh at the heading for the stationery. using that might indicate a bloating between the ears,” he began.

Anyone thinking Plews faked his way through four seasons in the bigs should think again. SABR member Bill Nowlin, a Boston Red Sox expert, wrote an impressive, well-researched biography on the Montana native who logged a brief stay with the 1959 BoSox.

Boston acquired Plews just weeks before the arrival of “Pumpsie” Green, the man who helped the last team take down baseball’s color barrier. At my time of writing, I didn’t know the whole story. Plews wrote:

“I wasn’t with Boston when Pumpsie arrived. Bill Jurges, who was a coach with the Senators when I was there, became manager, replacing Mike Huggins. Jurges and I never did see eye to eye, so when he arrived, it was my time to take a hike. That ended my major league days.”

Plews chose not to spell out the 1959 specifics: his demotion to the minors cleared the roster spot needed for Green’s arrival.

From the fantastic archives of www.retrosheet.org, I found that Plews tallied FIVE four-hit games during his career. He reflected on one:

“One of those games was against the Yankees with Turley pitching. They were all doubles. Trying to stretch the last one, I was thrown out at third! Jurges threw a hissy!”

Plews could have joined the roster of retirees bitter at their bad breaks in baseball. He was saddled with the struggling Senators, then failed to get a real chance with the contending Red Sox. Instead, he reflected:

“Looking back, I would have been better off staying with the Senators. Billy Consolo (included in the trade from Boston) got in a couple extra years with the Senators. I missed my pension by a couple months.

“However, Tom, I felt lucky to have played when I did. I saw some of the best players ever. Looking forward to another exciting season of baseball. Continue your loyalty for our grand ol’ game.

My best regards always,

Herb Plews

P.S. (noting my return address) That little school from Iowa (UNI) sure spoiled my bracket!

Frank Malzone’s Mystery

Frank Malzone is one of Boston’s best-kept secrets. He packed
six All-Star appearances and three Gold Gloves into a decade,
earning him Red Sox Hall of Fame status in 1995.

I enjoyed reading
about his memories in Game of My Life: Memorable Stories of Boston Red Sox Baseball.

I wrote to him, hoping to learn more. Instead, I feared the story might end
all too soon.

“Simple answers. Please, no more questionnaires. It’s asking a lot. Frank.”

I didn’t send him a 2010 census form. I asked only three questions:

1. After 1955, you switched from #43 to your famous #11. Why?

“Never wore #43. Had #7 and switched to 11. Did favor for another player.”

2. Your two years of Army service (1952-53) delayed your career. How did you feel about being off the diamond so long?

“No play some in the Army.”

3. How did you feel about coming in second in 1957 A.L. Rookie of the Year balloting?
(Yankees shortstop Tony Kubek won.)

“New York writers wanted me to be ineligible.”

Was Malzone joshing me? Was his memory failing?

I contacted the website where I found his jersey numbers, www.baseball-almanac.com.
This site is a wealth of free information about all things baseball. If you can’t make it to Cooperstown, here’s the next best stop for instant history.

Webmaster Sean Holtz is an all-star. He replied to my Malzone question in less than 24 hours.

Hello Tom,

Thank you for visiting & contacting Baseball Almanac.

I put up his Spring Training by accident and I apologize for the confusion I caused. He did actually start the season with number seven, but Billy Consolo wanted it and Malzone was willing to change with him. I have:

Fixed Malzone’s page.

Updated the team roster.

Fixed Consolo’s page.

Take care & thanks again,


Baseball Almanac, Inc.
“Where what happened yesterday, is being preserved today.”

A tip of the cap to Mr. Malzone. He didn’t like it, but he still took time to shine a bit more light on his admirable, overlooked career.