Thursday, April 27, 2006

Morrie Aderholt

During a baseball career that spanned parts of five major league seasons with three different teams including the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1944 and 1945, Morris Woodroe Aderholt displayed a big league bat and a little league glove.

"He's the world's worst third baseman," Dodgers' President Branch Rickey told the press shortly after Aderholt was called up by the club in September 1944.[1] But, “The Mahatma” noted, "he's a lefthanded pull hitter and a natural batsman.”[2]

A native of Mount Olive, North Carolina, Aderholt graduated from nearby Wake Forrest College in 1938. Shortly thereafter, he was signed to a professional baseball contract by Washington Senators' super scout "Papa Joe" Cambria and joined Charlotte of the Piedmont League in 1939, batting .297 in 142 games.[3] After the season, Aderholt was called up by Washington for the proverbial "cup of coffee."

A lanky, left-handed batter, Aderholt made his big league debut on September 13, 1939. It was his 24th birthday. He responded by belting a home run and a single against the visiting Chicago White Sox.[4] His home run, a mammoth shot over the middle of the scoreboard in right centerfield, was said to be the longest ball hit out of Griffith Stadium all season.[5] However, Aderholt came back down to earth the following day, committing three errors in a game against the St. Louis Browns.[6] Baseball, like golf, is a very humbling game.

Aderholt also made cameo appearances with the Senators during the 1940 and 1941 seasons, but failed to earn a spot on the club's 25-man roster. During his brief trials with Washington, Aderholt committed a whopping nine errors in 11 games at second and third base. His combined fielding percentage was an anemic .862.

Moved to the outfield so he would be less of a defensive liability, Aderholt returned to the major leagues with the Dodgers in 1944. In 17 games, he batted a respectable .271, but continued to pile up the errors, committing four miscues in 31 chances in the outfield for a horrendous fielding percentage of .871. The following season, he got off to a slow start, batting .217 after 39 games, and was sold to the Boston Braves for the waiver price of $7,500.[7] He found his batting stroke in his new surroundings, batting .333 in 31 games. Nevertheless, he was released at the conclusion of the season, ending his big league career.

Aderholt went on to manage in the minor leagues for several clubs and also served as a scout for the Senators.[8] He died on March 18, 1955 at the age of 39 after suffering a heart attack. [9]


[1] Burr, Harold C., "Dodgers Add a Dozen a Day," September 21, 1944, page 8.
[2] Id.
[3] Thompson, Denman. Harris Like Woman in Shoe. TSN: September 21, 1939, p. 3; -----, "Obituary: Morris Woodrow Aderholt," March 30, 1955, page 32.
[4] Povich, Shirley. Nats Stretch Losing Streak to 6 in Row. The Washington Post: September 14, 1939, p. 19.
[5] Id.
[6] Thompson, Denman. Harris Like Woman in Shoe. TSN: September 21, 1939, p. 3.
[7] Burr, Harold C., "B.R. Proposes 5-Year Limit on Light Tilts," TSN, August 9, 1945, page 10.
[8] Id.
[9] Id.


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