Jerry Priddy

Jerry Priddy

Jerry Priddy
Bowman Gum baseball card
Second baseman
Born: (1919-11-09)November 9, 1919
Los Angeles, California
Died: March 3, 1980(1980-03-03) (aged 60)
North Hollywood, California
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
April 17, 1941 for the New York Yankees
Last MLB appearance
September 27, 1953 for the Detroit Tigers
Career statistics
Batting average .265
Hits 1,252
Home runs 61
Teams

Career highlights and awards

  • Led AL in games in 1950 (157)
  • Led AL in games in 1951 (154)

Gerald Edward Priddy (November 9, 1919 – March 3, 1980), was an American professional baseball player and a second baseman in Major League Baseball for 11 years. He played for the New York Yankees (1941–1942), Washington Senators (1943, 1946–1947), St. Louis Browns (1948–1949), and Detroit Tigers (1950–1953).

Career overview

Priddy appeared in 1,296 major league baseball games. He had a career batting average of .265 with 1,252 hits, 612 runs scored, 541 RBIs, 232 doubles, 624 walks, 639 strikeouts, and 61 home runs.

Hall of Famer Phil Rizzuto later said of Priddy's playing career: "I'll never understand what happened with him, other than bad luck and some injuries. Jerry was a better player than I was. He had more power and could play the heck out of second base." (Bill Madden, Pride of October, p. 11.)

Baseball historian Bill James wrote an entire chapter about Priddy in his book The Politics of Glory. He concluded that Priddy hit relatively well, was one of the greatest defensive players in history, and had "essentially the same skills as Mazeroski and Bolling." James ranked Priddy as the 73rd best second baseman of all time. (The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract, p. 525.)

Minor league career with Phil Rizzuto (1938–1940)

Born in [1].

The following year, they were promoted together to the American Association's [3]

By 1940, the exploits of Priddy and Rizzuto drew attention in New York as the Yankees' double play combination of the future. [4]

Rizzuto recalled Priddy as: "That huckleberry. He was something else. We were close even though we were opposites in a lot of ways. He was cocky.... oh he was sure of himself. Me, on the other hand, I was shy and always worried. He took me under his wing, but he loved playing tricks on me too.... like nailing my shoes to the floor, ripping up all my fan letters, all those things." (Bill Madden, Pride of October, p. 10.)

One book states that Priddy played in the late 1930s with [5]

The New York Yankees (1941–1942)

When spring training arrived in 1941, Yankee manager Joe McCarthy announced that Rizzuto and Priddy would start at shortstop and second base, with Joe "Flash" Gordon moving to first base to make room for Priddy. McCarthy said, "We don't want to break up Rizzuto and Priddy, so my plan is to move Gordon to first base." (Bill Madden, Pride of October, p. 10.)

On April 14, 1941, Time magazine wrote: "Last year these Keystone Kids led Kansas City to its second consecutive pennant and set a new league record for double plays: 130. Both are extraordinary hitters, extraordinary fielders." [6]

After McCarthy announced his plan, Priddy reportedly walked up to the future Hall of Famer Gordon, telling him, "I'm the better second baseman. I can make the double play better than you. ... do everything better than you." (Bill Madden, Pride of October, p. 10.)

By the middle of May, Priddy was batting only .204, and McCarthy benched him, putting Gordon back at second base. Rizzuto recalled that Priddy's disrespect of Gordon got him off to a rocky start with the Yankee veterans. As a result, Priddy got no sympathy when he failed to live up to expectations and his own cocky predictions.

In 1941, Priddy batted only .213 in 56 games, while Gordon hit 24 home runs and scored 104 runs. In 1942, matters got worse for Priddy, as they got better for Gordon. Gordon hit .322 with 103 RBIs and was chosen the American League's Most Valuable Player. Priddy played in only 59 games in 1942, mostly at third base, and only eight games at his natural second base spot. He also fought with manager Joe McCarthy, and during the winter of 1942-1943, Priddy complained publicly about his lack of playing time, saying that he was being "wasted" by the Yankees. He also asked to be traded.

Washington Senators and World War II (1943–1947)

On January 29, 1943, Priddy was traded with Milo Candini to the Washington Senators for Bill Zuber and cash.

That year, Priddy was the Senators' starting second baseman. He batted .271 with 31 doubles, 67 walks, and 62 runs scored; he finished 16th in the AL MVP voting.

Priddy entered the Army in December 1943 and was not discharged until January 1946.

When he returned in 1946, Priddy's average dropped to .254 and then dropped even further to .214 in 1947. As had been the case in New York, Priddy did not get along with the Senators' manager, Ossie Bluege.

Inspiration for Maury Wills

While playing for the Senators in 1943, Priddy met an 11-year-old [8]

St. Louis Browns (1948–1949)

On November 22, 1947, the Senators traded Priddy to the St. Louis Browns for Johnny Berardino‚ but Berardino announced he was retiring to devote himself to his movie career. Commissioner Happy Chandler cancelled the trade, and Berardino then un-retired. Priddy ended up with the Browns anyway, as the Senators sold him to the Browns for $25‚000 on December 8, 1947.

Priddy had two strong seasons for St. Louis. In 1948, he hit .296 with a .391 on-base percentage and led the AL's second basemen in putouts, assists, double plays, and chances per game. He was 16th in the 1948 AL MVP voting.

He had another good year in 1949, batting .290 with a .382 on-base percentage and finishing 22nd in the AL MVP voting.

The Browns' attendance dropped to 270,000 in 1949 (compared with more than 2 million in New York and Cleveland), and the team was forced to sell their best players to raise $200,000 to make ends meet. On December 14, 1949, the Browns traded Priddy to the Detroit Tigers for [9]

Detroit Tigers (1950–1953)

In 1950, Priddy played a career- and AL-high 157 games, all at second base, for Detroit. He hit .277 with a .376 on-base percentage, 13 home runs, and 75 RBIs; he was among the AL leaders with 104 runs scored (10th), 95 walks (7th), 126 singles (7th), 253 times on base (10th), 13 sacrifice hits (6th), and 618 at-bats (4th). He finished 17th in the 1950 AL MVP voting.

Priddy led the league in games played again in 1951, but his offensive output dropped to 73 runs scored, 22 doubles, 8 home runs, and 57 RBIs.

In 1952, Priddy's playing time was reduced to 75 games, and reduced even further in 1953 to 65 games. Priddy played his last major league game on September 27, 1953.

Life after Major League Baseball

Priddy returned to the minor leagues after the 1953 season to play and manage for a few more years. He later tried his hand as a professional golfer with little success. (Mike Robbins, Ninety Feet from Fame: Close Calls with Baseball Immortality [Carroll & Graf 2004]) [10]

Conviction for extortion

On June 6, 1973, Priddy was arrested by the FBI in California and charged with trying to extort $250,000 from a steamship company by threatening to put a bomb aboard one of its vessels, the Island Princess. He was convicted and sentenced to nine months in prison. Phil Rizzuto later said that he could never believe "that whole extortion thing." He said: "That wasn't the Gerry I knew. He was outspoken and hotheaded ... but outside of baseball he was a regular guy. He knew a lot of prominent businesspeople. It just didn't make sense. He called me when he got out of prison and told me if he'd have to spend one more day in there he'd have been a hardened criminal." (Bill Madden, Pride of October, p. 12.)

In 1980, Priddy died of a heart attack at his home in North Hollywood, California.

See also

Baseball portal

External links

  • Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference
  • Photograph of Priddy and Rizzuto in 1938 with the Norfolk Tars
  • Find a Grave