Countdown To Pitchers And Catchers: #3 Earl Averill
Today continues our countdown to the start of Indians pitchers and catchers reporting to Goodyear, Arizona on February 20. We’ll count down the days, profiling a former Indian who wore the corresponding number. Some players will be memorable, others just our favorites and some, the only one we could find who wore that number. Today, we chronicle the career of Earl Averill.
By Vince Guerrieri
Earl Averill hasn’t played a game for the Indians in more than 70 years. But even after he was traded from the Tribe to the Tigers during the 1939 season, Averill’s name is still on the Indians record books as the career leader in total bases (3,200), RBI (1,084), runs (1,154), triples (121) and extra-base hits (724). And his 226 home runs with the Indians stood as a club record until Albert Belle broke it in 1996 (Jim Thome currently holds the mark).
Averill broke in with the Tribe in 1929, hitting a home run in his first career at-bat. He was one of the stars of mediocre Indians teams in the 1930s (the Tribe never finishEd Higher than third during his career with them), and was named to the first six American League All-Star teams. In 1937, Averill hit a line drive during the All-Star Game at Griffith Stadium in Washington. The ball struck pitcher Dizzy Dean on the foot, breaking his toe. Dean came back too quickly from the injury, and changed his mechanics, which is believed to have ruined his arm and prematurely ended his career.
The Earl of Snohomish, named for his hometown in Washington, hit three home runs in a game in 1930 and hit for the cycle against Philadelphia in 1933. In 1931 and 1932, he hit 32 home runs, still a single-season mark for Tribe center fielders.
Averill played for the Tigers for a season and a half, coming off the bench for their 1940 American League championship team, and struggled in 1941 for the Braves before retiring with a .318 average. One of his sons, also named Earl, had a seven-year MLB career, including a stint with the Indians.
Averill’s number 3 was, fittingly, the third number retired by the Indians, in 1975, the same year he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. He died in 1983.