Friday, August 23, 2013

1951 BOWMAN REX BARNEY


BIG ARM, BIG VOICE.




IN THE MINORS WHEN THIS CARD CAME OUT.



THE FRONT PAGE

  • Rex Barney and Sandy Koufax share the bond of being two of the hardest-throwing phenoms in Brooklyn Dodgers history. Both had little control upon arriving in the majors a decade apart, but Koufax eventually found it and went to the Hall of Fame. Barney never did and washed out after only six seasons. "Believe me, there isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about what I could and should have been. It still hurts,'' Barney said in '92.

THE BACK PAGE

  • Good recap of his shining moment.

PHOTO PLAY

  • Super portrait with an Ebbets Field light standard peeking over his right shoulder.

EXTRA, EXTRA

  • Barney signed at age 18 with Brooklyn in '43 and made his major-league debut that same season, going 2-2 with a 6.35 ERA and walking 8.1 batters per nine innings.
  • He made it back in '46 and had his best year in '48 when he pitched the no-hitter against the Giants and won 15 games. In the no-hitter, Barney showed a glimpse of what he was capable of when he pitched to contact. Of his 116 pitches, only 41 were called balls and he had only four strikeouts.
  • In '47, at the age of 22 and starting Game 5 of the World Series against the Yankees, Barney loaded the bases in first inning before striking out Joe DiMaggio, getting a forceout at home and striking out Billy Johnson to end the threat. Barney took the loss, though, going 4.2 innings and giving up only two earned runs but walking nine.
  • Over his career, Barney averaged 6.2 walks per nine innings while striking out 5.1. The only year he averaged less than five walks was in '48.
  • In that 15-13 season in '48, he fashioned a career-low 3.10 ERA and struck out a 138 batters in 246.2 innings. He still managed to lead the NL with six hit batsmen.
  • He was 18th in the '48 MVP voting.
  • When was the last time you heard the plate umpire say something like this: Barney is "the fastest thing in baseball today. I don't care about (Bob) Lemon or (Bob) Feller. I've seen them. This kid is it. And no finer boy in baseball could have pitched it. He has a heart as big as a lion and a wonderful disposition,'' effused Babe Pinelli after the no-hitter.
  • Went 9-8 with a 4.41 ERA for the NL champs in '49 and got the start against the Yankees in Game 5 of the World Series trailing 3-1. His second Series start was worse. The Yanks scored five earned runs in 2.2 innings. He walked five, and the Bombers won 10-6 to claim the Series, the first with Casey Stengel as manager.
  • Barney broke his ankle sliding into second during the final game of the '48 season, further hampering his development.
  • Demoted to the minors in '51 to work on his control but retired in '52, never making it back to Brooklyn.
  • Saw action in World War II and was injured after getting shrapnel in his leg and back. He was awarded two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star.
  • Remembering Dodger radio man Red Barber telling him he had a nice voice, Barney began his broadcasting career after retirement and got his first big break at Mutual Radio in '58, calling NL games for WOR-TV in New York.
  • His true calling began in '74 when he joined the Orioles as their PA announcer. His home-spun manner was an immediate hit as were his sayings "Give that fan a contract,'' when fans would catch foul balls, and "Give that fan ... an error,'' when they wouldn't.
  • His trademark "Thank Youuuu'' followed announcements and was said after games. A recording of it was the last thing broadcast over the Memorial Stadium PA on Oct. 6, 1991, after the last game there, which he was unable to attend because of a heart attack. "His voice was almost like a security blanket,'' said former O's pitcher Mike Flanagan.
  • Barney recovered to join the team in Oriole Park at Camden Yards beginning in '92. But health issues continued. He eventually had his right leg amputated below the knee that year because of circulation problems brought on from diabetes. He died on Aug. 12, 1997. In his honor, the game that night against the Athletics was held without a PA announcer.

1 comment:

  1. Loved Rex Barney and love this card. It's a beauty!

    ReplyDelete