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Plunked in the back

Plunked in the back

Aug. 26, 1950: Hollywood Stars’ infielder Jim Baxes gets plunked in the back by a pitch from the San Francisco Seals’ Chet Johnson during eighth-inning action at Gilmore Stadium. Seals won 13-3. The Seals’ catcher is Ray Orteig.

Down 12-3 in the top of the eighth, Stars manager Fred Haney selected infielder Baxes to pitch.

Times staff writer Al Wolf explains:

Hopelessly beaten, Fred Haney used the occasion for a bit of experimenting. He pitched Jim Baxes in the eighth inning….

The slingshot-armed infielder, making his first stab at flinging, allowed only one run and one hit, but also balked once, uncorked three official wild pitches and threw several other offerings behind the batters or in the general direction of first base….

Baxes also exhibited some fine sportsmanship.

When he came to bat in the home half of the inning, Pitcher Chet Johnson, obviously encouraged by his Seal teammates, purposely sped his first pitch behind Baxes’ back. Jim grinned. And so did everybody else, because it was a funny gag. Then Johnson would up and intentionally hit Jim in the back with a steamy serve.

The fans booed this unfunny topper lustily, but Baxes (and the other Hollywoodians) were big enough to ignore what could easily have been a riot-provoking incident.

A total of seven batters were hit by pitches during the game, including three by Johnson.

This photo by retired Los Angeles Times staff photographer Art Rogers was lead art on the next day’s sports front page.

Jim Baxes, whose real name was Dimitrios Speros Baxes, played 12 seasons of professional baseball. This stats page at baseball-reference.com, lists his one inning of pitching for the Hollywood Stars.

1 Comment

  1. May 25, 2011, 1:05 am

    Beautiful image and beautiful period prose. And shorts–the only place I'd ever seen them in professional baseball was when Bill Veeck tried them out with the White Sox in the '70s. I think the players wore them for exactly one game.

    By: bbbrekke@gmail.com

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