- 3B, OF
- August 10, 1916
- 6' 1"
- 175 lbs
- Major League Debut:
- 9-16-1935 with WS1
Johnny "Buddy" Lewis overcame defensive struggles at third base to forge a fine career, hitting .297 in 11 seasons with the Washington Senators. His career was interrupted in his prime when he served nearly four years in the Air Force, where he flew more than 350 missions and received honors for his service in World War II. When he returned in 1945, Lewis nearly drove the Senators to the American League pennant, hitting .333 to lead the club to within one game of the flag. Lewis was one of the most popular players in Senator history, and he was a personal favorite of team owner Clavin Griffith.
#33 (1935), #2 (1936-1941, 1945-1947, 1949)
Finally, in 1940, manager Bucky Harris moved the iron-handed Lewis to the outfield, putting Cecil Travis back at third, at least for a while. Eventually, Travis was switched back to shortstop, but Lewis never again played third base on a regular basis. When Lewis retired in 1948-1949, the Nats threw Bud Stewart into right field. This Bud wasn't for them, however, as he hit just .277 with little power in parts of three seasons in a Washington uniform.
In his first season as a right fielder, Lewis was able to concentrate almost exclusively on his offensive production. He hit .317 in 148 games, with 101 runs scored and 63 RBI. He set a career-high with 38 doubles, collected 10 triples, and had six homers. Je also drew 74 free passes, hitting primarily in the #2 spot in the order. Lewis made nine errors in the outfield, but that was less damaging than the normal basket-full he made at the hot corner.
Buddy Lewis was selected to the All-Star team as a third baseman in 1938, and as an outfielder in 1947.
Batting for average and getting on base.
Defense. Here's a typical news item from a game played at Yankee Stadium in September of 1945: "Buddy Lewis was the culprit in that first inning when the Yankees took a 2-0 lead.... Lewis messed up two plays in right field to give the Yankees a flying start. The Yankees got quick encouragement when Lewis played George Stirnweiss' fly into right field as if it were something to be avoided. He was off at the crack of the bat - in the wrong direction - and the ball cleared his head and bounced into the bleacher seats for a ground-rule double. A sacrifice put Stirnweiss on third with one out and after Martin drew a walk, Charlie Keller flied to Lewis. Lewis caught the ball in short right, badly out of throwing position for no reason at all, and Stirnweiss sped home after the catch. Lewis' throw home was wide of the plate, and Martin dashed to second from first." There are dozens of plays like that srinkled throughout the Washington Post coverage of the Senators during Lewis' tenure. He was sort of the Jose Canseco/Manny Ramirez outfielder, seemingly making the boneheaded play time and time again. His play at third was less dramatic, but equally poor. He committed 38 errors for every 154 games at the hot corner. His career fielding mark at third base was .927.
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- Buddy Lewis