- P, CF, OF
- September 26, 1925
- 5' 6"
- 139 lbs
- Major League Debut:
- 5-01-1949 with PHA
- Allstar Selections:
- 1952 MVP, 1952 TSN, 1957 GG, 1958 GG, 1959 GG, 1960 GG, 1961 GG, 1962 GG, 1963 GG, 1964 GG
The 5'6" 139-lb Shantz broke in spectacularly, winning a 13-inning game in relief, pitching nine hitless innings along the way while giving up one run and two hits overall. He was handicapped by manager Connie Mack, a former catcher who wouldn't let Shantz use his knuckleball and was predisposed against small pitchers. When Mack finally retired after the 1950 season, Jimmy Dykes took over the club and gave the little lefthander more rest between starts; Shantz blossomed. Finally allowed to use his knuckler, and with a curveball that Ted Williams called the best in the AL, Shantz learned to change speeds and went 18-10 for the 70-84 Athletics.
Shantz reached the peak of his career in 1952, going 24-7 for a fifth-place team to win the MVP award in a landslide. He led the AL in wins, winning percentage, and fewest walks per game (2.03), and finished third with a 2.48 ERA and 152 strikeouts, tied for third with five shutouts, second with 27 complete games, fourth with 255 innings, and fifth in fewest hits per game (7.39).
Plagued by injuries for most of the next four seasons, Shantz went to the Yankees in a 12-player deal before the 1957 season and made a great comeback that year, leading the AL with a 2.45 ERA while going 11-5. After that, he was used more frequently in relief, and contributed 11 saves to the 1960 pennant winners before being traded to the Pirates, who had defeated New York in the World Series; Shantz saved Game Two for the Yankees. He bounced around the NL after that, effective until his last year.
Shantz won Gold Gloves in the first four years of the award (1957-60). His brother Billy was a catcher for the A's in 1954-55 and in one game for the 1960 Yankees.
Robert Clayton Shantz (born September 26, 1925 in Pottstown, Pennsylvania) was a Major League Baseball pitcher for the Philadelphia Athletics (1949–1954), Kansas City Athletics (1955–1956), New York Yankees (1957–1960), Pittsburgh Pirates (1961), Houston Colt .45's (1962), St. Louis Cardinals (1962–1964), Chicago Cubs (1964), and the Philadelphia Phillies (1964).
A left-hander, Shantz began his career as a starting pitcher, but about halfway through he converted to a competent relief pitcher. In 1951 he added the knuckleball to his repertoire.
He enjoyed his best season in 1952 when he led the American League in wins (24) and won the MVP Award. In the process, he led the A's to their last winning season in Philadelphia. The 1952 A's had some excellent players, including batting champion Ferris Fain, home run hitter Gus Zernial, and fleet center fielder Dave Philly. But the club resumed its losing ways, drew fewer and fewer fans, and moved to Kansas City after the 1954 campaign.
A highly skilled fielder, Shantz won eight consecutive Gold Glove Awards from 1957 to 1964 (American League, 1957–60; National League, 1961–64; in 1957 the award was rendered for both leagues). Shantz also was selected for the All-Star Game in 1951, 1952 and 1957. In the fifth and final inning of the 1952 All Star Game, the left–handed Shantz exhibited his distinctive sidearm delivery and sharp curve. He struck out three respected hitters in a row: Whitey Lockman, Jackie Robinson, and Stan Musial.
Shantz had the distinction of being selected in expansion drafts in consecutive seasons. He was selected in the 1960 MLB expansion draft by the Washington Senators from the New York Yankees, and in the 1961 MLB expansion draft by the Colt .45s from the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Shantz won a World Series with the New York Yankees in 1958.
He is the brother of former Major League catcher Billy Shantz.
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- Bobby Shantz