>Random Thursday: Joe Smarza

>So, this week, fate played a funny joke on The Common Man. When he spun up the randomizer, he found himself face to face with Joe Smaza, an outfielder who got a two-game cup of coffee with the White Sox in 1946. Smaza batted five times, getting a single hit and scoring two runs. Because there is no play-by-play or boxscore data available from Retrosheet, we don’t know about either of his appearances. From his minor league record, Smarza looks like a slap-hitting outfielder in the Scott Podsednik mode, who might have been able to hold down a 5th outfield job if he had the chance.

The Sox in those years weren’t all that exciting either. In 1947, Chicago was in the third year of a seven year run of finishing under .500. Jimmie Dykes, their long-time manager, was fired some time between the 20th and 22nd of May when the team was 10-20, and was replaced by former ace and future Hall-of-Famer Ted Lyons (for whom the team went 64-60), who became player-manager but only pitched 5 games that year (going 1-4 with 5 CG and a 2.32 ERA). Smarza’s teammates, aside from Lyons, would have included SS Luke Appling (still going strong at age 40), 1B Joe Kuhel (who was about to hang it up at 40), OF Wally Moses (who, at 35, was settling into the decline phase of his career), 1B Hal Trosky (who made an abortive attempt to come back after WWII), Ed Lopat (who would become an ace of the Yankees staff during their five year championship run from 1949-1953), and Bill Dickey’s little brother George (who pretty clearly didn’t inheret the talent in that family).

And that’s all we know about Joe Smarza’s baseball career. Eventually, Joe hung it up and returned to his native Michigan. He died in 1979 at the age of 56. Presumably, he had people who loved him and whose lives he touched. But the trail is cold. Sometimes, randomness hits dead ends. Of the ’46 Sox, only Ralph Hodgin, Dave Philley, and Tom Jordan are still alive.

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