James Barton "Mickey" Vernon (April 22, 1918 - September 24, 2008) was an American first baseman in Major League Baseball who played for the Washington Senators (1939–1948, 1950–1955) for the majority of his career, as well as four other teams: the Cleveland Indians (1949–1950, 1958), Boston Red Sox (1956–1957), Milwaukee Braves (1959) and Pittsburgh Pirates (1960). Despite missing two seasons to military service during World War II, he retired with 2,495 hits, and holds the major league record for career double plays at first base (2,044), as well as American League records for career games (2,227), putouts (19,754), assists (1,444) and total chances (21,408). He batted and threw left-handed.
Note: The picture at right is not Mickey Vernon. It is an error card from the 1953 Bowman Color set, and actually depicts Mickey's teammate Floyd Baker.
In 14 full seasons (400 at bats or more), Vernon batted over .335 twice, over .300 five times, and over .290 nine times. He had two outstanding seasons: 1946 and 1953. He had his career high in home runs in 1954 with 20 (which was 8th in the league). He also had 97 RBIs, 14 triples, a career high, and for a third time led the league in doubles with 33. He also had 294 total bases, which was 2nd in the league, behind Minnie Miñoso.
Over time, Vernon became one of the best-liked ballplayers, mainly through his unique personality and charismatic, but quiet, style. By his last game on September 27, 1960, before being released by the Pirates he was, at 42, the oldest player by almost a year, and one of the most popular players in the game. He had spent that season as the Bucs' first-base coach before being activated, and earned a ring as a member of the 1960 World Series champions. Vernon is one of only 29 players in baseball history to have appeared in a Major League game in four decades.
In a 20-season career, Vernon posted a .286 batting average with 172 home runs and 1,311 RBIs in 2,409 games. The left-hander averaged 88 RBIs a year, and had 11 seasons with 80 or more, 3 with 90 or more. He accumulated 1196 runs with 137 stolen bases and a .359 on base percentage. His career slugging percentage came out to .428, with a career high of .518 in 1953. He compiled 2,495 hits, with 490 doubles and 120 triples, in 8,731 at bats. He had 2,741 career total bases, with his career high coming in 1953 (315).
In 1960, Vernon became a coach for the Pirates, working under his longtime friend Danny Murtaugh. During that world championship season, Vernon made his final appearance as a player, when he was activated on September 1 when the rosters expanded to 40 men. He appeared in nine games as a pinch hitter, with one hit in eight at-bats, while also serving as the Bucs' first-base coach. The following year, in 1961, he was given the job of managing the expansion Senators in their first year of existence. He did so from 1961 until the beginning of 1963. He had a career record of 135-227, a .373 winning percentage. He was a major league coach for the Pirates (returning there for a second term in 1964), St. Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles Dodgers, Montréal Expos and New York Yankees, managed at the AAA and AA levels of the minor leagues, and served as a batting instructor in the Kansas City Royals and Yankees' farm system before retiring from baseball.
In his final years he resided in Media, Pennsylvania, before dying from a stroke on September 24, 2008 at the age of 90.
In August 2008, he was named as one of the ten former players who began their careers before 1943 to be considered by the Veterans Committee for induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2009.
Playing in four different decades (1939–60), Vernon ended his career with 2,237 games at first base, second to only Jake Beckley (2,377) in major league history. He led the American League in fielding percentage four times, and the majors twice.
He became one of the few first basemen to finish his career with a .990 fielding percentage, and participated in more double plays than any other.
The Mickey Vernon Sports Museum in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, honors Vernon's career, military service, and friendship with Murtaugh, among other artifacts.
- 7-time All-Star (1946, '48, '53, '54, '55, '56, '58)
- Top 10 in MVP voting 3 times (1946, '53, '54), coming the closest in 1953 finishing 3rd behind Al Rosen and Yogi Berra
- 2-time batting champion (1946, '53)
- Led the league in doubles three times (1946, '53, '54)
- Top 10 in the league in triples 9 times (1941, '43, '46, '47, '51, '52, '53, '54, '55)
- 2nd in the league in hits twice (1946, '53)
- Participated in 2,044 double plays, the most in major league history
- Baseball Hall of Fame balloting, 2009
- List of major league players with 2,000 hits
- List of Major League Baseball players with 400 doubles
- List of Major League Baseball players with 100 triples
- List of Major League Baseball players with 1000 runs
- List of Major League Baseball players with 1000 RBI
- List of Major League Baseball batting champions
- List of Major League Baseball doubles champions
- Hitting for the cycle
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference
- 2007 Baseball Hall of Fame candidate profile at the Internet Archive
- BaseballLibrary - profile, career highlights and *SABR bibliography
- The Baseball Page
- The Diamond Angle
|American League Batting Champion|
|Washington Senators Managers|