More “15 Minutes of Baseball Fame” – Journeyman Bob Nieman!

More “15 Minutes of Baseball Fame” – Journeyman Bob Nieman!

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Bob Nieman and the 1962 World Series Photo Gallery
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 More “15 Minutes of Baseball Fame” – Journeyman Bob Nieman!

You might be wondering why I’m featuring a journeyman ball player from the 1950’s I’m sure most of you have never heard of (you have to be as old as me to remember this name!). Well, I had a lot of fun with my post a few days ago about Paul Gillespie and his “15 minutes of baseball fame.” So I thought I’d challenge you guys with another!

Bob Nieman isn’t quite good enough to qualify for my “Forgotten Stars” series; but he had a solid 12-year career (1951-1962) as a platoon outfielder and pinch hitter for the Browns, Tigers, White Sox, Orioles, Cardinals, Indians, and Giants, and made an appearance in the 1962 World Series. Like Paul Gillespie, Nieman accomplished something only two players in history have ever done.

The 24-year old Browns’ rookie made a rather dramatic major league debut at Fenway Park on September 14,1951, 66 years ago this week. Just like Paul Gillespie, Nieman homered in his first big league at-bat. It came in the second inning off Red Sox lefty Mickey McDermott. That’s certainly noteworthy, but it’s hardly record-setting. Now here’s where the “15-minutes of fame” thing kicks in…

In his second at-bat, also against McDermott, lightning struck again: Nieman hit another homer, becoming the first of only two players to go deep in his first two at-bats. Nieman is also one of only three players to hit two home runs in his first big league game. In his third trip to the plate, he beat out a bunt, finishing the day 3-5, two home runs, four RBIs, and even an outfield assist. Not a bad start to his major league career!

In the featured photo below, we see the quintessential journeyman Bob Nieman and his vintage 1955 Bowman baseball card. Over his career, Nieman hit .295, 125 home runs, 544 RBIs, .373 on-base percentage, and .474 slugging average, batting over .300 three times. His remarkable career OPS+ of 132 places him well above his baseball contemporaries (100 being the major league average). In his final season,1962, he collected eight pinch hits to help the Giants win the 1962 National League pennant; and made a pinch-hitting appearance in the 1962 World Series.

After retiring, the baseball lifer later served as a scout for over two decades for the Indians, Dodgers, Athletics, White Sox and Yankees. 

As I’ve said many times, we think anyone who makes it to the major leagues is special. We don’t care if he’s a star or a reserve; and journeyman Bob Nieman is no exception. So we’re glad to shine the spotlight on him for a brief moment or two. “Hats off” to Bob Nieman for accomplishing something that only two players in history have ever done!

 

Gary Livacari

Photo Credits: All from Google search

Information: Excerpts edited from the Bob Nieman Wikipedia page.

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I'm a baseball historian who also loves to write. My forte is identifying ballplayers in old photos, and my specail interest is the Dead Ball Era.

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