Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A Final Update on George Strickland's 1959 Sabbatical

Note: Here are links to Part 1 and Part 2 of the Strickland Sabbatical unraveling.

A double secret update on the George Strickland mystery: Intrepid reader Matt DiFilippo did some impressive work to pull out several relevant quotes from the AP and the Lowell Sun that support the idea that Strickland had significant problems at home. Alas, these stories are behind a firewall for members at http://www.newspaperarchive.com (for which, if he's going to be doing more of this kind of archive diving, The Common Man may have to shell out for). The most telling comes from Harry Grayson, of the Sun, who tells the whole story from beginning to end:

"Bo Strickland announced that he was retiring for personal and family reasons. There was no violent objections. His selling pari-mutuel tickets at the New Orleans Fair Grounds made it quite clear that Strickland had not struck oil or become an important figure in the sugar and cotton market.

So, while Frantic Frankie Lane was running in his wildest circles last winter, the general manager received a letter from Strickland. At 33, the shortstop had decided that he had two or three more years left, and the big league fare was considerably better than that of a bloke working part-time behind a race track window."

In an AP story a month earlier, Strickland talks about his reasons for a comeback, “You kind of miss the game after playing it 12 or 13 years. After I quit last season, I didn't pick up a bat. The only games I saw all season were on TV. I quit for personal reasons, which I won't go into. They seemed sound at the time, and I guess they still are."

Finally, The Common Man did some additional digging on his own and came across a very short brief from the Daytona Beach Morning Journal about Strickland’s retirement, saying, “Strickland said he couldn’t see going on in baseball as a utility infielder, making the climb up the ladder all over again.”

Again, argh, it’s somewhat contradictory evidence. The Daytona Beach article, however, glosses over the fact that Strickland had actually been a utility infielder for two full seasons at that point, though that probably isn’t significant. At this point, The Common Man thinks we need to accept the idea that life is messy and that there probably were multiple reasons why Strickland walked away, all of which contributed to an overwhelming level of stress for him and his family. We've gone about as far as we can go on this mystery, but The Common Man looks forward to more diving into the dumpster of history in the future.

Now, TCM's off to figure out how he became the go-to guy for light-hitting shortstops of the 1950s. He'll try to be back this afternoon or late evening with a new Beer Leaguers.

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