Albie Pearson

Albie Pearson

September 12, 1934
5' 5"
140 lbs
Major League Debut:
4-14-1958 with WS1
Allstar Selections:
1958 ROOK

The smallest player in the ML throughout his career, the 5'5" 140-lb Pearson was AL Rookie of the Year in 1958 when he hit .275 for the Senators. After a couple of poor seasons, he was grabbed by the Angels in the 1961 expansion draft. He learned to use his size to advantage to draw walks, raised his BA, and led the AL with 115 runs scored in 1962. He hit a career-high .304 the next year, but recurring back spasms restricted his play after that and eventually ended his career. After tries at pro golf and disc jockeying, he became a radio evangelist in southern California and Nevada.

Baseball career
Growing up, Pearson both pitched for the El Monte High School baseball team and played halfback for the football team. Following a year at Pomona Junior College, Pearson was signed by the Boston Red Sox as an amateur free agent in 1953. Following his signing, which amounted to little else besides two pair of cleats, a new suitcase, and a promise of making $225 a month if he made the team, Pearson was assigned to the San Jose Red Sox of the Class-C California League where he hit .334 in 125 games. Although signed as a pitcher, Pearson was converted to the outfield (after filling in on an emergency capacity and getting 8 hits in his first two games) and would rarely see time on the mound during his minor league career. Promoted to single-A Albany Senators in the Eastern League in 1954, he hit .269 and earned a two game promotion to play for the AAA Louisville Colonels. Person would spend 1955 back at single-A, this time hitting .305 for the Montgomery Rebels in the Eastern League. He would split 1956 between the San Francisco Seals in the open Pacific Coast League and the Oklahoma City Indians in the AA Texas League, but would blister the ball throughout the season and finish the season hitting a combined .358 with 7 homeruns, 46 RBI, 6 triples, and 36 doubles with 91 walks and only 41 strikouts in 153 games and winning the Texas League batting championship. Pearson would be back with the Seals in 1957 and would continue to hit - hitting .297 with 5 HR, 50 RBI, 11 triples, and 22 doubles. On January 23, 1958, he was sent with Norm Zauchin to the Senators in the same trade that brought infielder Pete Runnels to the Red Sox.

In 1958 Pearson won both the MLB Rookie of the Year and the TSN Rookie of the Year awards in the American League. However, Pearson got off to a rough start to the 1959 season and after hitting only .188 over the first 25 games with no homeruns and only 2 RBI, he was traded to the Baltimore Orioles for fellow center fielder Lenny Green. His 1960 season wasn't a big improvement over the previous year as Pearson would only see action in 48 games for the Orioles.

When baseball owners approved the addition of the Los Angeles Angels during their meeting in October 1960, he was selected by the new franchise in the expansion draft as the 30th and last pick. With the change of scenary back in his native California and on the expansion Angels, Pearson turned around his career. In the team's inaugural game, Pearson scored the franchise's first run, in a 7-0 win over the Orioles, and hit .288 with 7 homeruns, 41 RBI, and 92 runs for the season. Pearson enjoyed his best season in 1963, when he posted career-highs in runs batted in (47), hits (173), stolen bases (17) and games played (160); led the AL in singles (161), and made the All-Star team. His .305 batting average (also a career-high), ranked him fourth in the batting crown race behind Carl Yastrzemski (.321), Al Kaline (.312) and Rich Rollins (.307). However, recurring back problems restricted his career and he was forced to retire after the 1966 season.

In a nine-year career, Pearson was a .270 hitter with 28 home runs and 214 RBI in 988 games. In addition, he compiled a 2.45 walk-to-strikeout ratio (477-to-195) and a .369 on base percentage.

Pearson married wife Helen in 1953 and has five daughters, 17 grandchildren, and 16 great-grandchildren (as of April 2011). Off the field, Pearson is an ordained minister. In the 1960s, Pearson started a Riverside youth foundation, which focused on helping children stay off drugs, founded a non-profit organization providing training for pastors and ministers, and set up churches and orphanages in Ecuador and Zambia.

In 2002, Pearson and his wife of 45 years founded Father's Heart Ranch in Desert Hot Springs, California, an 11-acre (45,000 m2) home for abused, neglected and abandoned 6-12 year old boys. The Pearson's Father's Heart International foundation every week feeds about 4,000 Zambian children who have lost their parents to AIDS.

Albie Pearson
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