Infielder Mickey McGuire appeared in a total of 16 games for the Baltimore Orioles in 1962 and 1967. Originally a shortstop, he played nearly an equal number of games at that position, second base and third base in his 15-year professional career. A right-handed contact hitter, he spent his final two seasons in Japan.
M.C. “Mickey” McGuire Jr. was born on January 18, 1941, in Dayton, Ohio, the seventh of M.C. Sr. and Nellie (Rosenberry) McGuire’s 13 children. Both of his parents came from Georgia. “I guess I’m the most active in the lot,” Mickey remarked, noting that only two of his younger brothers were interested in sports.1 According to the 1940 Census, their father was a laundry laborer. The 1954 Dayton city directory described him as a pattern maker.
McGuire, listed at 5-foot-10, 170 pounds, excelled as an all-around athlete at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, running track and playing four years of basketball and football. On the court, he averaged 22 points per game as a senior. Despite relatively small hands, he starred as a long-distance, rollout passer on the gridiron and made Dayton history as a junior and senior. “I was the first Negro to be named All-City quarterback in football, Baseball was my greatest love, so I played every chance I got as an amateur.”2
Dunbar did not have a baseball program, but McGuire named clubs sponsored by Precision Rubber, Grace Methodist Church and Dorothy Lane Market as some of his first teams. He cited playing in a National Amateur Baseball Federation tournament for the latter as one of his best pre-professional experiences.3 “I had a lot of good coaching from the men who helped us when I was young,” McGuire said. “As I grew older, I played in leagues with the older men, and they gave me tips on how to do this and that. I remembered most of the things they told me, and I practiced them at every opportunity.”4
One of the coaches also gave the teenaged McGuire the nickname, Mickey. Although his given name was M.C., like that of his father, the coach thought M.C. sounded like Mickey and began calling him that. Everyone, including the player, seemed to like it, so it stuck for the rest of his baseball career.5 Mickey McGuire was also the name of Mickey Rooney’s character in a popular film series released between 1927 and 1934 that was rebroadcast on television during M.C.’s childhood. Since 1928, kids in Salem, Ohio — 235 miles northeast of Dayton — had played a variety of sports in Mickey McGuire leagues.6
Mickey was offered several scholarships to play either college basketball or football, but he signed an Orioles contract through scouts Jack Baker and Bill Krueger on February 15, 1960.7 The Baltimore Sun article announcing the transaction said the 19-year-old’s arm, speed and defense were his ticket into professional baseball.8 McGuire debuted with the Aberdeen (South Dakota) Pheasants in the Class C Northern League. Playing in each of his team’s 124 games, he committed 47 errors at shortstop and batted .225, but he was the only future big leaguer on the roster. McGuire led the circuit with a dozen sacrifice bunts and walked a career-high 59 times. Two of his three home runs were hit in the first game that his mother watched him play as a pro.9 Next, he helped the Orioles’ entry win the Arizona Winter League. After seeing McGuire in action, Baltimore manager Paul Richards remarked, “You’ve got to like the little shortstop.”10
In 1961, McGuire went to spring training with the Orioles, though the Pittsburgh Courier’s Bill Nunn Jr. opined, “McGuire is probably being carried primarily as a companion for his more established roommate.”11 That offseason, Baltimore had purchased outfielder Earl Robinson from the Dodgers for $65,000 and invited him to stay with his white teammates at the McAllister Hotel in Miami, where African American Orioles were welcome for the first time. Instead, Robinson opted to live at the Sir John Hotel in the “Harlem of the South” — the city’s Overton district.12 McGuire was not given a choice, explaining, “I was told to stay at the Sir John.”13 Baltimore GM Lee MacPhail acknowledged that McGuire was in major league camp simply because the club needed extra infielders for intrasquad games, but insisted, “He is a fine prospect and will be a major leaguer.” The Orioles also planned to assess McGuire’s readiness to skip Class B ball. “We wonder if he can play Double-A,” MacPhail explained. “Because we have high hopes for the youngster, we don’t want to rush him too fast. That sort of thing can ruin a kid.”14
McGuire spent most of the season in the Double-A Texas League, His last-place Rosebuds team began the year in Victoria, Texas, but moved to Ardmore, Oklahoma, in June because of poor attendance.15 In 115 games, McGuire batted .281, scored 65 runs and led the club with 28 doubles. After Baltimore’s Triple-A International League affiliate lost starting shortstop Ron Kabbes to a late-season injury, McGuire replaced him for 16 contests and hit .186 for the Rochester Red Wings. On September 30, McGuire married his high school sweetheart, Betty Jane Bradley.
The Orioles did not have a Double-A farm team in 1962, so McGuire joined the Elmira (New York) Pioneers in the Single-A Eastern League. At a “Batter Up” luncheon early in the season, “Skipper Earl Weaver introduced McGuire as the club’s twist and mashed potatoes dance champ,” reported the Elmira Star-Gazette.16 The Mashed Potato dance was a ’62 sensation and, McGuire performed it as part of his pre-game warmup routine.17 “Mickey McGuire is what one would term ‘hep’,” noted Pioneers’ beat writer Al Mallette.18 By the first week of June, however, McGuire had missed time with a severe groin injury, a beaning and a deep spike wound below his left knee.19 Although he reduced his error total by more than half and fielded a career-best .961 at shortstop, McGuire batted only .224 in 110 games. “I just got into a hole…and couldn’t seem to get out,” he said.20
Nevertheless, after Baltimore shortstop Ron Hansen suffered a season-ending broken hand on August 22, McGuire was called up to the majors. “Putting on that Baltimore uniform was the greatest thrill I’ve ever had in baseball,” he said.21 McGuire debuted on September 7, 1962, entering the game in the eighth inning and playing two innings at shortstop in the Orioles’ 5-4 loss to the Angels at Memorial Stadium. In his first plate appearance two days later, he grounded back to Los Angeles pitcher Ted Bowsfield as a pinch hitter. Overall, McGuire appeared in six games off the bench, going 0-for-4 and handling all four of his fielding chances.
McGuire played winter ball for the Cardenales de Lara in Venezuela where he was knocked unconscious and hospitalized for a week following a December 19 beaning by Camilo Estevis.22 He expected to be Rochester’s shortstop in 1963 but, shortly before Opening Day, the Red Wings purchased Ken Hamlin from the Washington Senators.23 Consequently, McGuire returned to Elmira, now a Double-A club in the newly classified Eastern League. The Pioneers already had Davey Johnson — a bigger, younger prospect — slated to man short. “When they told me they didn’t want to move Johnson and that I’d be switched to third base, I didn’t much care for that,” McGuire confessed. “I’d still rather play short, but I’ve accepted the challenge of playing third and I’m working to learn the position.”24 McGuire handled the hot corner ably while enjoying his best hitting stretch yet. In June, he batted .403 to earn Topps EL Player of the Month honors and raise his overall mark to .357 with a circuit-best 102 hits.25 “I just decided this was going to be my year,” he explained. “I thought to myself that I’ve been in baseball three seasons, had my ups and downs, and that this was the season I had to come through.”26 McGuire missed a week in early July with a sprained ankle.27 In August, he hurt his right hand.28 Still, his career-high 81 RBIs tied teammate Jim Liggett for second in the circuit behind Charleston’s Bob Chance (114). Among hitters with at least 300 at-bats, only Chance (.343) produced a better batting average than McGuire’s .315 mark. McGuire was named the EL’s top shortstop after shifting back to his preferred position after Johnson’s promotion to Triple A.29
The 1964 season was the first that McGuire spent entirely in Triple-A and his last playing primarily shortstop. Spring training injuries to his ankle and shoulder plagued him all season.30 When he aborted a throw to first base at the last instant because his second baseman froze in harm’s way after feeding him a potential double play ball, McGuire tore shoulder muscles. His once-powerful throwing arm was never the same.31 In 103 games, he batted .215 with only eight extra-base hits. By August 9, George Beahon wrote in Rochester’s Democrat and Chronicle, “It’s been obvious that McGuire, perhaps adequate in a utility role, could not help the club either way, afield or at bat, on an everyday basis.”32 The Red Wings won the Governor’s Cup championship in 1964, but McGuire was benched in favor of veteran Marv Breeding in the playoffs.
McGuire went back to Double-A Elmira in 1965. Later, he acknowledged feeling like “packing my bags and going home. You see other guys with the big club that you feel in your heart aren’t able to do more than you can. I guess I’m lucky though, to have the initiative to fight back. I don’t give up.”33 Playing mostly at third base, he batted .289 in 129 games to lead a Weaver-managed Pioneers club that finished 83-55.
At Rochester in 1966, McGuire had a different primary position for the third straight season: second base. “When an infielder changes positions, the toughest thing for him to do is play the bunt. At each position it’s different,” he explained. “I don’t care where they play me, just so I play. But I do think a fellow hits better when he plays the same position each day.”34 After the Red Wings combed the waiver wire throughout spring training for a better second base option, McGuire started off slowly. “I didn’t know how serious they were about getting a replacement, but I was worried that Dave Johnson would come back from the Orioles,” McGuire said. “When Dave got off to that good start with the Orioles, I settled down and felt a lot better.”35
Around Memorial Day, McGuire launched a 17-game hitting streak in which he batted .477 to raise his overall average to .310.36 He also overcame his concerns about turning double plays and did a solid job at second. “[Shortstop] Mark [Belanger has been a wonderful help and just playing next to him makes you look good,” McGuire insisted. Belanger praised his keystone partner as well, saying, “Mickey has sure hands and rarely makes a poor throw. Some people think he doesn’t have good range. That’s because he is not a fast runner. But he moves very well laterally. I know – I’ve played enough games next to him.”37 McGuire’s improved mobility resulted from finally shedding the 20 excess pounds he’d gained after hurting his ankle two years earlier. “He discovered he couldn’t do the job at his old overweight,” Weaver remarked.38
In a career-high 143 games, McGuire batted .307 with a personal-best 158 hits and struck out only 22 times in 515 at bats. “[McGuire] has to be our most valuable player. He has been our big guy so often that it’s becoming routine,” Weaver said.39 “He’s as good as a lot of second basemen playing in the majors right now.”40 Lou Gorman, Baltimore’s Director of Minor League Clubs, noted, “A lot of people say McGuire doesn’t have quite enough ability to make it up here, but it seems like he always has a great year when Weaver is his manager.”41 McGuire described his relationship with Weaver this way: “He had faith in me and he kept pushing me. When you know the manager is in your corner, there’s nothing you can do but go out there and do the job for him. And for yourself.”42
When IL writers picked the circuit’s All-Star team after the season, McGuire missed out by one vote to Jack Damaska, a .248 hitter for Columbus.43 He made Topps’s version of the IL All-Stars, however, along with fellow Red Wings Mike Epstein, Steve Demeter and Ed Barnowski.44 “I believe I have the ability to play in the majors,” McGuire said. “My lack of speed could have been overstressed. Some fellows just aren’t blessed with great speed, but I feel I can get the jump on the ball and make up for it that way.”
Despite his excellent season, McGuire was not invited to Orioles’ spring training in 1967. “Maybe it takes two good years, back-to-back, to gain the recognition he deserves,” Weaver suggested. After sweeping to victory in the 1966 World Series, Baltimore had Dave Johnson and future Hall of Famers Brooks Robinson and Luis Aparicio back as starting infielders, with Belanger poised to supplant veteran Bob Johnson in the utility role. “Earl and some others have said there are big league clubs that could use me,” McGuire said. “I wish they’d hurry up and find it out.”45 The military thought they might make use of his services. McGuire missed the Red Wings’ game on June 1 for what the Democrat and Chronicle described as a “pre-pre-induction physical” examination of his knee by an Army orthopedic surgeon. “Mickey has long had a bad knee, full of bone chips and pieces of cartilage.” 46 Over the final weekend of June, McGuire returned to Dayton for Army Reserve meetings, but he was not inducted into the service.47 When the Orioles lost Belanger to Air National Guard duty the following weekend, McGuire was summoned to Baltimore for his second stint in the majors.48
During his two weeks with the Orioles, McGuire pinch hit five times and played two innings at second base. On July 9, he handled Joe Pepitone’s grounder for the final out of a 2-1 victory over the Yankees in Baltimore. On July 13 at Fenway Park, he collected his first big-league hit, pulling a bouncer into left field against rookie Boston southpaw Sparky Lyle to drive in Luis Aparicio and bring Baltimore within 4-2 in the eighth inning.49 He returned to Rochester until the Orioles recalled him again in September. He appeared four times, including his only major league starts in the final three games. On September 30 in Cleveland, he scored the tying run in Baltimore’s come-from-behind victory after singling against Sam McDowell to start the eighth inning. He was 2-for-4 in the season finale, driving in the Orioles’ first run and scoring another as the sixth-place Orioles beat the Indians, 4-0. McGuire finished his 16-game major league career with a .190 (4-for-21) batting average.
McGuire went to spring training with the Orioles in 1968 before returning to Rochester. He appeared in only eight games, however, before the club opted to go with Frank Peters at second base and loaned him to the Seattle Angels in the Triple-A Pacific Coast League. “I’ll report to Seattle, but I find it hard to accept,” he said as he packed his bags. “Rochester meant a lot to me. This is the right kind of town to play ball in.” Red Wings GM Bob Turner told McGuire that Seattle might offer him a clearer path to the majors. “[Turner] said they were thinking of me in terms of their expansion plans, so maybe this could wind up a good move for me.” 50
That offseason, McGuire had surgery on his troublesome right knee.51 He wasn’t selected by the Seattle Pilots or any of the three other new teams in baseball’s expansion draft. Back with the Red Wings in 1969, he batted .292 in 115 games with a team-best 27 doubles. “After the year I had in 1969, I thought the Orioles would give me some consideration,” McGuire recalled. “But they treated me like dirt. I just didn’t fit into their plans at all.” Near the end of spring training 1970, the Orioles exchanged Mickeys — sending McGuire to the PCL Tucson Toros, a White Sox affiliate, for left-handed pitcher Mickey Scott. Initially, McGuire balked, choosing to go into business in Dayton rather than report.52 After relenting and joining Tucson two weeks later, he learned that he’d impressed Toros manager Gordy Maltzberger and coach Jim Napier while playing for Seattle. “They both seemed to want me on their team,” he said.53 McGuire hit .278 in 107 games, playing mostly second base.
Two weeks before McGuire left home for spring training 1971, his widowed mother’s home burned down in Dayton, causing her and four of his siblings to move in with him and his wife. McGuire, 30, enjoyed a career year. Through June 21, he was batting .402 playing primarily third base.54 “I’m hopeful that if the White Sox should need help in the future, I’ll get a shot at it,” he said.55 In 109 games, McGuire finished with personal bests in batting (.349), on-base percentage (.388) and runs scored (77). The league’s writers and broadcasters voted him the PCL’s top utility player, but the White Sox never called him up.56 He returned to Tucson for his thirteenth and final minor league season, then played two years with Hiroshima in the Japan Central League before retiring from baseball.
When McGuire returned to Elmira for an old timers’ game in 1983, he said he’d become a member of Metropolitan Millionaires’ Club, signifying annual sales of at least $1 million as a representative of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company.5758 In 1994, the Dayton Aviators debuted as part of the Great Lakes Summer Collegiate League with McGuire on the coaching staff under manager Fred Scherman.59 Mickey and his wife Betty raised three sons — Mark, Myron and Chris — before her death in 1996. As of 2021, McGuire is retired, married to Dora (Hamrick) and resides in Dayton.
Last revised: June 9, 2021
This biography was reviewed by Darren Gibson and Norman Macht and fact-checked by Evan Katz,
1 “2nd Tan Oriole Called ‘Great Future Prospect’,” Afro-American (Baltimore, Maryland), March 18, 1961: 18.
2 Mickey McGuire, Publicity Questionnaire for William J. Weiss, April 5, 1960.
3 McGuire, Publicity Questionnaire (April 1960).
4 Al Mallette, “Mickey Decided This Was to be His Year – and it is,” Star-Gazette and Advertiser (Elmira, New York), July 21, 1963:40.
5 “How Mickey Got His Name,” Star-Gazette and Advertiser, July 21, 1963: 40.
6 “Mickey M’Guire League Formed,” Salem (Ohio) News, April 25, 1928: 9.
7 Mallette, “Mickey Decided This Was to be His Year – and it is.”
8 “Shortstop, 19, Signed by Birds,” Baltimore Sun, February 17, 1960: S17.
9 Mickey McGuire, Publicity Questionnaire for William J. Weiss, December 19, 1960.
10 Bob Maisel, “The Morning After,” Baltimore Sun, October 29, 1960: S15.
11 Bill Nunn Jr. “Bonus Baby Earl Desires Tan Hotel at Miami Camp,” Pittsburgh Courier, March 11, 1961: 28.
12 Bob Luke, Integrating the Orioles (MacFarland & Company, Inc., Jefferson, North Carolina, 2016): 70.
13 Nunn, Jr. “Bonus Baby Earl Desires Tan Hotel at Miami Camp.”
14 “2nd Tan Oriole Called ‘Great Future Prospect’.”
15 “Texas Bosses Okay Victoria Transfer to Ardmore, Okla.” The Sporting News, May 31, 1961: 33.
16 Al Mallette, “We Get Letters, Too,” Elmira (New York) Star-Gazette, April 25, 1962: 29.
17 Al Mallette, “Change of Pace,” Elmira Star-Gazette, July 20, 1962: 13.
18 Al Mallette, “Change of Pace,” Star-Gazette and Advertiser, July 14, 1963: 39.
19 “McGuire Hurt in Elmira Loss,” Elmira Star-Gazette, June 4, 1962: 15.
20 Mallette, “Mickey Decided This Was to be His Year – and it is.”
21 Mallette, “Mickey Decided This Was to be His Year – and it is.”
22 Olaf E. Dickson, “Muscle Man Emery Mauls Hurlers,” The Sporting News, January 5, 1963: 37.
23 Shirley Povich, “Capital Close-Ups,” The Sporting News, April 13, 1963: 40.
24 Mallette, “Mickey Decided This Was to be His Year – and it is.”
25 “Mickey EL’s June Pride,” Star-Gazette and Advertiser, July 3, 1963: 15.
26 Mallette, “Mickey Decided This Was to be His Year – and it is.”
27 Tom Page, “Papa Silences Charleston Bats,” Star-Gazette and Advertiser, July 11, 1963: 23.
28 Gene Levy, “Rainout One More Wet Blanket on Weaver’s Wailing Wall,” Star-Gazette and Advertiser, August 31, 1963: 9.
29 “Demeter, Johnson Sent to Wings,” Democrat and Chronicle (Rochester, New York), April 7, 1964: 36.
30 Bill Vanderschmidt, “Red Wings Open at Home Today,” Democrat and Chronicle, April 29, 1964: 46.
31 Regis McAuley, “McGuire Finds He Fits into Picture at Tucson,” The Sporting News, May 1, 1971: 37.
32 George Beahon, “Loss of Burright Kayoed Wing Bird,” Democrat and Chronicle, August 9, 1964: 45.
33 “Wings’ McGuire Shooting for Another Big Year,” Democrat and Chronicle, March 30,1967: 34.
34 McAuley, “McGuire Finds He Fits into Picture at Tucson.”
35 Al C. Weber, “Once Ugly Duckling, McGuire Now Wings’ Bird of Paradise,” The Sporting News, August 27, 1966: 33.
36 “McGuire is Like Flynn,” The Sporting News, July 2, 1966: 36.
37 Weber, “Once Ugly Duckling, McGuire Now Wings’ Bird of Paradise.”
38 George Beahon, “In the Mood for Victory,” Democrat and Chronicle, September 6, 1966: 49.
39 “Wing Tips,” Democrat and Chronicle, August 1, 1966: 33.
40 “Wings’ McGuire Shooting for Another Big Year.”
41 Bob Maisel, “McGuire is Surprise,” Baltimore Sun, August 4, 1966: C1.
42 “Wings’ McGuire Shooting for Another Big Year.”
43 “Demeter, Epstein, Belanger Picked for IL’s All-Star Team,” Democrat and Chronicle, October 1, 1966: 47.
44 “Four Rochester Players Picked as Int All-Stars,” The Sporting News, November 12, 1966: 43.
45 “Wings’ McGuire Shooting for Another Big Year.”
46 “Wing Tips,” Democrat and Chronicle, June 2, 1967: 30.
47 Bill Vanderschmidt, “Wings Keep Hex on Hens,” Democrat and Chronicle, June 27, 1967: 48.
48 “Red Wings Idled in Buffalo by Disturbances Near Park,” Democrat and Chronicle, June 30, 1967: 34.
49 Lou Hatter, “Birds Rout Bosox, 10-0, for Split,” Baltimore Sun, July 14, 1967: C1.
50 George Beahon, “Called it Home,” Democrat and Chronicle, May 19, 1968: 57.
51 1969 Baltimore Orioles Media Guide: 49.
52“Camp Chatter,” Star-Gazette, April 17, 1970: 18.
53 McAuley, “McGuire Finds He Fits into Picture at Tucson.”
54 “Batting and Pitching Records,” The Sporting News, July 3, 1971: 41.
55 McAuley, “McGuire Finds He Fits into Picture at Tucson.”
56 “Rice, Rodriguez, Hutton PCL Picks,” The Sporting News, October 23, 1971: 28.
57 Al Mallette, “Sunday Brunch,” Star-Gazette, February 6, 1983: 22.
58 “Members: ‘Metropolitan Millionaires’ Club’,” Pittsburgh Press, September 3, 1965: 10.
59 Mark Katz, “Dayton Aviators Throw Out First Pitch,” Dayton (Ohio) Daily News, June 11, 1994: 3D.