- 2B, 3B, SS
- April 17, 1923
- 5' 9"
- 165 lbs
- Major League Debut:
- 4-27-1949 with SLN
A tough, scrappy player, Solly Hemus was the starting shortstop and leadoff batter for the St. Louis Cardinals in the early 1950s. After being traded to the Phillies, Hemus returned to the Cardinals in 1959 as a player/manager. He posted a 190-192 record at the helm and spent the rest of his career in baseball as a coach with the Mets and Indians, and as a minor league skipper for the Mets.
Quotes From Solly Hemus
“I think being named manager of the Cardinals was the biggest thing that ever happened to me. I was honored to become a manager. They didn’t have that many at the time so if you got hired, well, that said something about what others thought of your ability in baseball.”
As a player (1949–59) with the St. Louis Cardinals and Philadelphia Phillies, Hemus was primarily a shortstop, although he also saw significant time as a second baseman. He compiled a lifetime batting average of .273 in 969 games, with 51 home runs. He batted left-handed and threw right-handed.
Hemus was a hardnosed player known for battling with opponents and umpires. When he was traded to the Phillies in May 1956, Hemus wrote a letter to Cardinals owner August "Gussie" Busch, expressing his pride in being a Cardinal and his gratitude to the baseball club. With his career winding down, he was reacquired by the Cardinals during the autumn of 1958 and named the St. Louis player-manager by Busch, who admired Hemus' fiery personality and remembered his letter from 2½ years before.
As a player, Hemus appeared in 24 games - mostly as a pinch-hitter - in 1959 before concentrating on his managerial responsibilities. His Cardinals were inconsistent: a seventh place (71-83) finish in his rookie managerial campaign (1959) was followed by a 15-game improvement (86-68) and a leap to third place in his second season (1960). The Redbirds followed with a poor start in 1961, losing 16 of their first 19 games. They were mired in sixth place in July (at 33-41) when Hemus was replaced by one of his coaches, Johnny Keane. His career major league managing record was 190-192 (.497).
Hemus then served as a coach with the New York Mets (1962–63) and Cleveland Indians (1964–65). He managed the Mets' top farm club, the Jacksonville Suns of the AAA International League, in 1966 before leaving baseball and entering the oil business in his adopted home city of Houston, Texas.
During his tenure in Philadelphia, Hemus made history when he was removed for pinch runner John Kennedy at Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City, New Jersey, during a league game against the Brooklyn Dodgers on April 22, 1957. It marked the major league debut of Kennedy, the first African-American player in Philadelphia Phillies history.
- Solly Hemus