Former big league slugger Al Rosen passed away yesterday. He was 91.
Rosen spent his entire 10-year career with the Cleveland Indians. That career would be delayed by his participation in WWII. Rosen would serve in the Pacific where he would command a Landing Craft Mobile which supplied arms to Okinawa.
Rosen would resume his baseball career after the war. His power earned him the nickname “The Hebrew Hammer” and got the attention of the Indians. Rosen made his big league debut with the Tribe in 1947. He would earn a World Series ring in 1948, but did not become an everyday player until 1950 when he became the team’s everyday third baseman leading the AL in homeruns with 37 and would have the first of five consecutive 100 RBI seasons. His best overall season came in 1953 when he unaminously won the AL MVP leading the league in HRs with 43 and RBIs with 145. Rosen nearly won the Triple Crown, but a controversial call in his last at bat of the season would cost him the batting title. Mickey Vernon of the Washington Senators would beat out Rosen for the batting title by .0001 point. Amazingly, no Indian was won the AL MVP title since.
In 1954, Rosen was part of the Indians team that won a then record 111 games and would make a second World Series appearance. Rosen would retire following the 1956 season due to a litany of injuries. He was only 32. Rosen finished his career with a lifetime .285 batting average, 192 HR and 717 RBI. Rosen would be named to four AL All-Star teams.
As one of the few Jews in MLB, Rosen faced his share of anti-Semitism. However, he did not suffer fools gladly. With a background as an amateur boxer, Rosen did not hesitate to use his fists. The bigots soon learned to tread lightly around him.
After his big league career ended, Rosen went to work as a stockbroker before moving to Las Vegas to work in the casino industry. Rosen would return to baseball in 1978 as General Manager of the New York Yankees. After a year and a half standing between George Steinbrenner and Billy Martin, Rosen would resign. Prior to the 1981 season, Rosen became GM for the Houston Astros a role he held through 1985. Between 1986 and 1992, Rosen served as GM for the San Francisco Giants. He would be named MLB Executive of the Year in 1987 after the Giants won the NL West title. Two years later, the Giants would win the NL pennant.
Here is a short interview Rosen conducted back in 2012.