Johnny Mize

Position: First Baseman
Teams: St. Louis Cardinals 1936-1941; New York Giants 1942; 1946-1949; New York Yankees 1949-1953

Johnny Mize
Johnny Mize, also known as "The Big
Cat," won five World Series rings
with the New York Yankees.

Hard-hitting first baseman Johnny Mize was a link from the great 1930s Cardinals teams to the great Yankees dynasty of the 1950s.

John Robert Mize (1913-1993) was born in Demorest, Georgia, where he played a good deal of basketball, because the town was small enough to make gathering enough players for baseball difficult. He played baseball well enough in high school to sign with Greensboro of the Piedmont League in 1930. In 1933, at Rochester of the International League, he suffered painful leg cramps that would haunt him for the next several years. In 1935, he underwent surgery to remove a growth on his pelvis. Thus cured, he moved up to St. Louis.

Mize joined the Cards in 1936, batted .329, and clubbed 19 home runs, a total he was to increase each year for the next four years. He surpassed the .300 mark for the next eight years, peaking at .364 in 1937. In 1939, he led the league in homers (28) and batting average (.349). In 1940, “The Big Cat” walloped 43 dingers to top the senior circuit and drove home 137 runs, also the league lead. He finished second in the MVP voting. Mize led the NL with three consecutive seasons of .600-plus slugging percentages -- 1938 to 1940.

Traded to the New York Giants prior to the 1942 season, Mize led the NL that season with a .521 slugging percentage and 110 RBI. He served three years in the Navy during World War II. He returned from the service to top the NL twice in home runs, including 51 round-trippers in 1947 -- a mark that still stands for NL lefties -- tying Ralph Kiner for the league’s top spot. Mize also paced the loop in RBI (138) and runs scored (137).

He seemed to get better with age, but Mize was slowing down, and toward the end of the ’49 season the Yankees acquired him for $40,000. He went 2-for-2 in the 1949 World Series with two RBI. The Yanks were champs and looked like geniuses. Mize was an even bigger hero in the 1952 Series. In a wild battle with the Dodgers, he hit .400 with six RBI and three homers in 15 at bats, grabbing Series MVP honors. A part-time first sacker and pinch hitter, Johnny led the AL in pinch hits from 1951 to 1953.

In all, “The Big Cat” won five World Series rings with the Yanks. He retired after the 1953 season, at age 40. The only slugger in history to hit three home runs in a game six times, Mize was named to the Hall of Fame in 1981.

Here are Johnny Mize's major league totals:





















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