- 2B, 3B, OF, SS
- March 31, 1895
- 5' 9"
- 157 lbs
- Major League Debut:
- 8-24-1916 with PIT
Carson Bigbee was an excellent defensive outfielder who hit the ball to all fields and who benefited greatly from the switch to the lively ball in 1921. He might have benefited even more from antibiotics had they been available as his career was derailed by sinus problems which effected his eyesight. He still contributed what may have been the biggest pinch hit in Pirate history before his involvement in the A-B-C Affair led to his release.
A quick, lefthanded batter, Bigbee was skilled at place hitting and using his speed as he developed his play during the deadball era. He arrived in Pittsburgh in 1916 at the age of 22, hitting .250, but only driving in three runs in 164 at bats. Playing regularly in 1917, Bigbee hit only .239 with just 17 extrabase hits, but he improved the next three years reaching .280 in 1920. In the field, Carson was said to rival Max Carey as the league’s top defensive outfielder of the time. In fact, his manager, George Gibson, stated Bigbee was the better of the two as he could adjust better to playing left than Carey. 31 stolen bases in both 1919 and 1920 added to Bigbee’s offensive value.
With the lively ball introduced in the National League in 1921, Bigbee shot his average up to .323 and collected 204 hits. He outdid these impressive numbers the next year, batting .350 with career highs in hits (215), runs (113) and rbi’s (99). After his big season, Bigbee quickly signed his contract and Dreyfuss stated that the outfielder, who played mostly left in spacious Forbes Field, was one player he never had any trouble dealing with.
Bigbee began suffering from sinus problems which caused him pain and hampered his vision in 1923. He still hit .299, but his extra base hits fell almost in half and he missed time on the field. His power was sapped even more in 1924 as he collected only five extrabase hits in 282 at bats and lost his status as a regular. By 1925, Bigbee’s average was down to .238 and for the third strait year, he went without a homerun. Still, in the seventh game of the World Series, Bill McKechnie called on Bigbee to pinchhit with two on and two outs and the Pirates down by a run in the eighth. The veteran doubled over Goose Goslin’s head to tie the game and moments later scored on Kiki Cuyler’s two-bagger.
Bigbee returned in 1926 and briefly reclaimed a starting job before rookie Paul Waner and his own declining skills again forced him to the bench. He was released following an ugly clubhouse incident. Bigbee had reportedly overheard special assistant Fred Clarke telling McKechnie he needed to replace Max Carey in center. When McKechnie expressed he had no one to put in, Clarke stated, “Put anybody out there, even if it’s a pitcher.” Bigbee was said to tell Carey and supported the Pirate Team Captain in calling for a team vote to decide whether or not Clarke should remain on the bench. Clarke won the vote 18-6 and Bigbee, along with pitcher Babe Adams, was released and Carey was sold to Brooklyn. Bigbee played in the minors after that, suffered a near fatal illness a few years later, but recovered and eventually managed in the All-Girls Professional Baseball League in the 1940’s.
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- Carson Bigbee