Thursday, September 8, 2011
From the GNIB Request Line: Sandy Piez
Today is a most wonderful day, Great Names in Baseball reader(s), for the Ossee Schrecengost Memorial Hotline for Great Names in Baseball1 has been buzzing. And the consensus is reached2: Sandy Piez is the hottest of hot topics.
Charles William "Sandy" Piez played under baseball's best bastard, John McGraw, in his only big-league season for the 1914 New York Giants . He appeared in 37 games, primarily as a pinch runner. As such, Sandy accumulated only eight plate appearances and nine chances as an outfielder. Piez stole four bases in his limited chances and scored nine runs3. Of his three career hits, one went for three bases. He left big-league ball with an impressive .375/.375/.625 batting line (though some statisticians may be dubious of the small sample size). He also tied a major league record with his perfect fielding percentage.
At the time, the Giants rostered two other outfielders on the bench, Dave Robertson and Jim Thorpe. Robertson was the Giants' fourth outfielder in 1914, batting well that year. He would stick around to lead the National League in home runs in 1916 and 1917. Thorpe, the famed multisport athlete, played a role similar to Sandy Piez. Most of Thorpe's 1914 appearances came as a pinch hitter or pinch runner, appearing in 30 games with just 31 plate appearances with just four outfield chances. The crowded outfield led McGraw to keep Robertson and Thorpe, each under a longer-term contract than Piez. The Giants sold Sandy Piez to Rochester, where he would play his final professional season.
Before and after his single season with the Giants, Sandy played for a number of lesser-league clubs of preferred nomenclature: the Williamsport Millionaires of the Tri-State League4 (Players were paid in soup broth), the Augusta (Ga.) Tourists/Orphans of the South Atlantic League5 (Were the tourists orphaned or the orphans toured?), the Greenville Spinners of the Carolina Association (Competed in competitive leagues of The Game of Life with other cities), the Richmond Colts of the Virginia League (Sponsored by the South rising again) and the Rochester Hustlers of the International League (A dirty, dirty, dirty group of men).
Sandy Piez's post-Hustlers career found him coaching the Rutgers University6 baseball team in 1916 and 1917. After that, he put his baseball cap away for good and became a businessman7 in the Roaring Twenties. However, he met a tragic, Tim Burton-esque end in 1930, when a car he occupied skidded off an icy bridge in New Jersey and fell into the ocean, where he drowned.
Read more about Sandy Piez here.
1 To contact the hotline, please send an email message to firstname.lastname@example.org. One of Ossee's lackeys or some hack writer will read and respond.
2 This request actually comes from a reader who claims Sandy Piez went to his or her high school, so I'll assume that the reader is a Son (or Daughter) of Hammonton, New Jersey. Greetings to you New Jersey-ans.
3 Sandy Piez is one of a handful of players who scored more runs in his career than he had plate appearances. Herb Washington is the most extreme example, as he was a "designated runner" for the Oakland Athletics in 1974 and 1975. Washington scored 33 runs in his career without a single plate appearance or inning of defense. He also played in two games of the 1974 American League Championship Series, getting caught stealing in both games.
4 The 1910 Tri-State League included (among others) the Johnstown Johnnies, Lancaster Red Roses, York White Roses and Reading Pretzels.
5 The 1911 South Atlantic League may be the best-named I've found yet, including Tarpons, Sea Gulls, Commies (!) and Babies.
6 Piez had attended Rutgers University and Bucknell University. His coaching career at Rutgers merited a one-inch story in a tiny corner of a Sporting Life issue.
7 Sandy was no doubt influenced to enter business by his brief stint as a Millionaire.