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Jimmie Wilson Photo Gallery
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Two Of Our Readers Related To Former Phillies and Cub Manager Jimmie Wilson!
As I’ve mentioned many times, one of the real benefits of this “job” here on Oid-Time Baseball Photos is being contacted by relatives of former ball players. Two of our most loyal readers, Bob Schachte and Rich Baker, are relatives of former ball player and manager, Jimmie Wilson. Bob is Jimmie’s nephew; while Rich is a great-nephew through marriage (he’s married to Bob daughter).
Bob and Rich are very proud of their relationship to this two-time All-Star catcher whose major league career spanned 23 years (1923-46) as a player, manager, and coach with four different National League teams (Phillies, Cubs, Cardinals, and Reds). Jimmie played on four pennant winners, was a coach on a fifth, was a member of two World Series championship teams, and managed the Phillies (1934-38) and the Cubs (1940-44). Prior to baseball, he was an accomplished professional soccer player.
In his playing days, Jimmie Wilson was that baseball rarity: a dependable, hard-nosed catcher who could hit, posting a respectable .284 career average (topping .300 four times), with 32 home runs, and 621 RBIs. A solid contact hitter, he struck out only 280 times in 4778 at-bats (5.9%). Known for his defensive, he led National League catchers in putouts three times, assists twice, and double plays three times.
In the featured photo above, we see a nice Don Stokes’ colorization of Jimmie Wilson from his playing days with the Cardinals.
Jimmie is best remembered as the hero of the 1940 World Series, and received national acclaim for his role. At age 40, while a coach for the pennant-winning Reds, he was pressed into emergency catching duty. He responded by catching the last six of the seven games, was the hitting star (.353), and stole the only base of the Series. In the deciding seventh game, he had a perfect day, going 2-2 with a key sacrifice bunt that advanced the eventual winning run. In so doing, he help bring a World Championship to Cincinnati for the first time since the tainted 1919 “Black Sox” series.
Jimmie was also an astute evaluator of baseball talent. In 1935, while managing the Phillies, he suggested the highly-touted infielder, Bucky Walters, move from third base to the pitching mound. Observing Walters’s strong arm and knowing that a nagging thumb injury hampered his batting stroke, Wilson was the first to perceive his potential as a pitcher. The reluctant Walters started slowly, but hit his stride after a trade to the Reds. He went on to star in the 1940 World Series and had an exceptional career (198-160, 3.30 ERA) that some feel is worthy of Hall of Fame consideration. Jimmie’s also credited with revamping the careers of Claude Passeau, Hugh Mulcahy, Curt Davis, and Joe Bowman among many others.
Jimmie’s son, Lieutenant Robert Wilson, who had major league aspirations, was killed in a flight training accident in India during World War II. Jimmie Wilson never fully recovered from the tragic loss of his son and suffered a fatal heart attack in 1947 at age 47.
Like many fine ball players from the ‘20s and 30s, Jimmie Wilson’s achievements have been largely forgotten, overshadowed by the likes of Ruth, Gehrig, Foxx, Hornsby, and Grove. So I’m happy to shine the spotlight on him, honoring his memory for a brief moment on behalf of relatives Bob Schachte and Rich Baker.
Photo Credits: Featured photo colorized by Don Stokes: https://www.facebook.com/Don-Stokes-Old-Time-Baseball-Colorizations-923346241033508/; All others from Google search
Information: Excerpts edited from my SABR biography of Jimmie Wilson; and from information provided by Rich Baker.
Check out my new book, now available on Amazon in paperback: “Memorable World Series Moments!” https://www.amazon.com/dp/