• The Continuing Attempt To Educate A Montreal Expos Fan About D.C. Baseball History:
The Washington Senators signed Marcus Hook, PA born James Barton "Mickey" Vernon as an amateur free agent out of Villanova University in 1937. The 6'2'' left-handed hitting and throwing first baseman would make his MLB debut two years after signing on July 8, 1939. Four years into his MLB career, the 25-year-old spent two years away from the game while he served in the military during WWII in 1944-45. Upon returning to the game, Vernon led the league in batting average in 1946, posting a .353/.403/.508 slash line with a league-leading 51 doubles. Two years later, after his numbers had dropped off significantly as Vernon entered his 30's, the Senators dealt him along with RHP Early Wynn to the Cleveland Indians for RHP's Joe Haynes, Ed Klieman and first baseman Eddie Robinson.
Vernon rebounded in his first year with the Indians, putting up a .291/.357/.443 slash line with 27 doubles, 18 HR's, 83 RBI's, 58 walks and 51 K's in 659 plate appearances. In 1950, Vernon was dealt back to the nation's capital, returning to first base in D.C. and hitting .306/.404/.459 in 90 games with the Senators. Two years later, at 35 years of age, Vernon would once again lead the league in batting average and doubles, hitting .337 with a .403 OBP, .518 SLG, 43 doubles, 11 triples, 15 HR's and 115 RBI's in 152 games.
Two years after that, on November 8, 1955, Vernon's 14-year-career with the Senators ended when he was dealt to the Boston Red Sox. Vernon would play two seasons in Boston, once again posting an on base percentage over .400 (.403 OBP in 1956) though it would be the last time the then-38-year-old veteran hitter would do so. Vernon would play four more seasons in the Majors, moving on from Boston a year later to play for the Cleveland Indians, Milwaukee Braves and Pittsburgh Pirates before retiring after four decades in the game (1939-1960). In 1961, Vernon would return to the nation's capital as the manager of the second-Senators in their first year after the original franchise decamped for Minnesota. Mr. Vernon managed in D.C. for two seasons, replaced in 1963 after 40 games by "The Walking Man" Eddie Yost, who managed just one game before Vernon's successor Gil Hodges took over on the bench.
Over the course of his career, (according to Baseball-Reference.com's BR Bullpen page) Vernon, "...led the league twice in batting average and three times in doubles; 4 times in on-base percentage and was a 7-time All-Star selection." As good as he was at the plate, however, the BR writers note, "Vernon was probably an even better fielder," and he still, "...holds the major league record by participating in the turning of 2044 double plays," over the course of his career. Mickey Vernon died on September 24, 2008.