Today in Tribe History: February 29, 1924
Bob Toth | On 29, Feb 2020
Future star slugger and 1953 American League Most Valuable Player Al Rosen is born in Spartanburg, South Carolina.
Rosen will become the first of two Indians ever to be born on “leap day” (joined later by Steve Mingori) and is one of just 14 players in Major League Baseball history to have that birthday.
He was far better known as a prolific hitter in the Tribe’s lineup through the 1950’s. He signed with the club in 1942 as an 18-year-old and played for the organization in the minors, but missed three seasons of professional action while serving in the United States Navy. He returned to the Tribe’s farm system in 1946 and hit for high average and power. He got some brief exposure from 1947 through 1949 with the Major League squad but was blocked by Ken Keltner. He became a regular in their lineup in 1950 and hit 37 homers and drove in 116 in that first season, hitting .287 with a .405 on-base percentage after drawing 100 walks.
In 1953, the third baseman had a career year, batting .336 with a .422 OBP. He established career-highs in hits (201), homers (43), RBI (145), and slugging percentage (.613), in addition to the average and OBP marks. He was rewarded for his mammoth season with the 1953 AL MVP award, still the last in franchise history.
He hit an even .300 on the Indians’ 1954 AL pennant winning club with 102 RBI before the numbers dropped in 1955. He retired following the 1956 season after injuries mounted and a disagreement with the Indians front office over his wages.
He returned to the game in 1973 when he was a partner with George Steinbrenner in the purchase of the New York Yankees. He was the club’s president in 1978 and 1979. He followed that with stints as the general manager of the Houston Astros and San Francisco Giants. He died in 2015, less than two weeks after his 91st “birthday”.