Mike Kreevich


National Baseball Hall of Fame LibraryMike Kreevich was 22 years old before he came out of the Illinois coal country to play his first game of professional baseball. He was 28 before he shed his major-league rookie status in 1936, following two brief trials earlier in that decade. He faced the obstacles of small stature, a teenage injury to his left hand, and bouts with alcohol. Yet he parlayed his speed, outfield prowess, and steady hitting skills into a full decade with four American League teams.1 By the time he hung up his spikes at age 37, “Iron Mike” had a starting All-Star Game appearance to his credit and had been an integral part of one of the most improbable teams to ever play in a World Series, the 1944 St. Louis Browns.

Michael Andreas Kreevich was born on June 10, 1908.2 He came from the small Illinois city (population 3,000) of Mount Olive in Macoupin County, near St. Louis. He was the second of five children — four sons and a daughter — born to Michael Kreevich Sr. and Mary Bosniak Kreevich. His parents were natives of Croatia, then a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. By 1903, they had emigrated to the United States and settled in south-central Illinois, where Michael Sr. found work in the region’s coal mines.3 Mike had an older brother, Joseph, born in 1906. Younger brothers Kenneth and Andrew followed in 1915 and 1919. A sister, Agnes Marie, was born in 1922. The 1940 US census listed Michael Sr., Mary, Andrew, and Agnes Marie as continuing to reside in Mount Olive. Then in his early 60s, Michael Sr. still reported his occupation as a coal-mine laborer.

Life in a mining region rife with racial-tinged labor tensions was hardscrabble. Young Mike, as a second-oldest son, kept busy with whatever he could do to help support the family.4 He left school at age 16 in 1924 to join his father in the mines. At a compact 5-feet-7½-inches and 168 pounds, he worked himself into solid physical shape with the tough manual labor necessary to keep a mining job. The forefinger of his left hand was just a stump after a shotgun exploded in his hand when he was 13.5 Yet he still played baseball in the minimal free time he had available from the mines. Both the Mount Olive semipro team and one in nearby Edwardsville welcomed his dependable right-handed hitting, accurate right throwing arm, and exceptional ability to track down fly balls in the outfield.6 When the Great Depression caused massive layoffs in the mines early in 1930, Mike “tossed aside his coal miner’s pick and shovel for a baseball bat and glove, turned in his uniform for a McCook uniform, and left the Illinois coal fields.”7

The McCook Generals were an unaffiliated team in the eight-team Class D Nebraska State League. Manager Elmer S. “Doc” Bennett, although two states away, kept an eye on Illinois coal country talent.8 With his connections there, Bennett caught wind of what Kreevich was doing around Mount Olive and brought him to McCook for the 1930 season.

There, Kreevich did well in his first foray into Organized Baseball. He helped McCook win the Nebraska State League pennant, hitting .350 in 116 games with a league-leading 15 home runs.9 Walter McCreadie, a scout for the Detroit Tigers, took note; he recommended Kreevich to the unaffiliated Class A Des Moines (Iowa) Demons of the Western League for a late-season trial. Kreevich, likened physically to Hack Wilson by baseball writer Sec Taylor of the Des Moines Register, made the most of it with four hits in a doubleheader — Demons’ owner Lee Keyser “immediately concluded a deal for him.”10  The faster company in Class A didn’t faze Kreevich. He hit .329 in 511 at-bats for Des Moines in 1931, this time catching the attention of the Chicago Cubs.

As the 1931 season wound down, the Cubs stood third in the National League but 15 games out of first place. They brought Kreevich to the majors from Des Moines, put him in right field, and slotted him as their leadoff hitter in the first game of a September 7 doubleheader against the Cardinals at Wrigley Field. He singled off Paul Derringer in his first at-bat and stole second with two outs. But as Woody English reached on an infield single, Kreevich tried to score; a Cardinals relay and rundown caught him at the plate. Kreevich singled again on a bunt in the eighth but was erased by a double play. The first-inning play at the plate was as close as the Cubs came to scoring, as Derringer outdueled Bob Smith, 1-0.

Kreevich played right field and led off in the second September 7 game as well, but went hitless. He remained with the Cubs for the rest of the season but neither started another game nor hit safely in four more at-bats. He was invited to 1932 spring training with the Cubs in Avalon, California, and hit a home run in an intrasquad game on March 3.11 However, the club kept the 24-year-old on the West Coast with their affiliate in the Pacific Coast League (then Double A), the Los Angeles Angels. Kreevich had no trouble adapting to the highest rung of the minors, hitting .294 during the 1932 season with 54 extra-base hits in 162 games. The Angels had experimented with using Kreevich at third base as they wrapped up spring drills. Once the season opened, though, he made all his appearances in the outfield.12

Kreevich married the former Ann R. Gulick during the 1932-33 offseason.13 He then got more top-level minor-league experience in 1933 and 1934, with Albany in the International League and the Kansas City Blues in the American Association. He continued to hit well. The third-base experiment was resurrected in 1934, when Kreevich played in 83 games there for Kansas City –but 22 errors were enough to convince management that he was an outfielder.

Kreevich was back with the Blues for 1935 and blistered American Association pitching for a .345 average with 63 extra-base hits and 110 runs scored. Chicago’s other team, the White Sox, paid attention and purchased the rights to Kreevich’s contract. He debuted as an American Leaguer — oddly enough, at third base — in the second game of a September 24, 1935, doubleheader against the St. Louis Browns at Comiskey Park. Over the brief remainder of the season, he hit safely in all six games he played and finished with a ringing .435 average.

This time, Kreevich was in the majors to stay. Early in the 1935-36 offseason he was projected as the starting third baseman for the White Sox, but by the time spring training ended in late April, he was in center field. He stayed there, also playing the outfield corners, for the entire season.14 Again, he continued to hit well.

By midseason 1936, “the popular little fellow,” still a rookie, was becoming such a fan favorite that the White Sox held Mike Kreevich Day at Comiskey Park on Sunday, June 28. Honored with a “big floral horseshoe and other gifts,” Kreevich sat out the first game of the day’s twin bill as Chicago lost. He failed to hit safely in four trips to the plate in the second game but drove in a run on a double-play grounder.15 The fans went home happy as the White Sox beat Washington, 4-1, with their honoree in the lineup.16 Later that season Kreevich had a career-high five hits in a game on September 11 against Philadelphia. He finished the campaign at .307 in 550 at-bats.

Early in the 1936 season, Chicago had entertained thoughts of trading Kreevich to the Boston Red Sox “for any outfielder on the Boston roster and Boston laughed.”17 As it developed, he became a fixture in the Comiskey Park outfield off a solid rookie year. On September 4, 1937, he rapped out four doubles in one game at Detroit; his 16 triples led the American League. He celebrated his 30th birthday with two home runs in a game at Fenway Park on June 10, 1938.18Kreevich started the 1938 All-Star Game in Cincinnati and batted leadoff as the American League’s left fielder, an accomplishment he counted as one of his two greatest highlights in baseball.19

“Little Ikey Pikey,” as his teammates dubbed him, hit his full-season career-high (.323) in 1939 at age 31. However, he tied an unusual big-league record that year. On August 4 he hit into four double plays. Since compilation of the statistic began, only one man had done it before him –Goose Goslin in 1934 — and only one has done it since (Joe Torre, 1975).20

Kreevich began to slip over the next two seasons, bottoming out at .232 in 1941. That “marked finis to a Chicago career which extended over seven seasons in Comiskey flannels.”21 Kreevich had built his salary with the White Sox to $13,000 in 1940, but it was cut to $11,500 in 1941 after his subpar year. On December 9, 1941, Chicago shipped him and relief pitcher Jack Hallett to the Philadelphia A’s for 31-year-old Wally Moses, who had compiled a .317 career batting average over seven seasons.22 Kreevich, cut further to an $8,000 salary with Philadelphia, responded with an “indifferent attitude” in 116 games for the eighth-place 1942 A’s. That prompted owner-manager Connie Mack to release him and three other players outright on December 5, 1942. The Philadelphia Inquirer called it “a rebuilding program of the Athletics for the second war year.”23 The straitlaced Mack was reportedly also unhappy with Kreevich “because he drank too much.”24

But Kreevich remained a free agent only briefly, until January 18, 1943. He then signed, again for $8,000, with the St. Louis Browns. A first-division club at 82-69 in the 1942 American League race, the Browns were considered “a hot favorite” in 1943, but not necessarily because Kreevich was aboard. Seen as a “journeyman” who “served time with the Athletics last year,” one St. Louis writer said “he may never set the world on fire, but Mike, at least, has the know-how.”25

The military draft and enlistments were taking a heavy toll amid World War II. Browns vice president Bill DeWitt and manager Luke Sewell, who had played with Kreevich in Chicago, were busy assembling a club they hoped would bear out the writers’ confidence. Sewell saw Kreevich as a “great outfielder.” He also dismissed concern about Kreevich’s fondness for alcohol, saying, “He got straightened out.”26 For the signing, the manager traveled to Springfield, Illinois, where Kreevich was spending the winter with his family.27 Sewell and DeWitt were attracted by more than Kreevich’s past success in Chicago and Sewell’s firsthand experience. As a married man with children, Kreevich, then 35, had an assured draft deferment under regulations then in effect. There was a distinct possibility that many players would be soldiers or sailors at some point in 1943 — but near-certainty that Kreevich would be with the Browns for the entire season.

The new signee had been hampered by injuries in 1942 with Philadelphia, notably one to his throwing arm. Yet Sewell was confident that these would not be a factor either. Kreevich buttressed that by telling writers that his arm was back in shape.28

But little materialized as hoped. The 1943 Browns did not contend for the pennant after their third-place finish in 1942. They dropped below .500 on July 18, never recovered, and sagged back to sixth place. Kreevich, still hobbled by injuries — this time to his legs — played in only 60 games, and hit the same, .255, as he had the year before in Philadelphia.

Kreevich went back to Springfield for the 1943-44 offseason and worked a walking milk route in an effort to strengthen his legs.29 The Browns showed continuing optimism regarding his ability to contribute in 1944, re-signing Kreevich for the same $8,000 salary he had received in 1943.

Roster issues were an even larger concern for baseball in 1944 than they had been the year before. “Some 340 major league players were in military service. So were more than 3,000 minor leaguers, who otherwise would have competed for jobs.”30 That insight came in 1982 from author William Mead, who chronicled the Browns’ only pennant in the 1978 book Even the Browns – reissued in 1985 as Baseball Goes to War.

DeWitt and Sewell had been focusing on and continued to seek players with military deferments, including those who worked in war-related jobs and could play when their work schedules allowed — an occasional night game and Sundays. Better-established and more successful franchises like the Yankees refused to even try to adapt as the Browns were doing. “Using part-timers would demean big-league ball,” Yankees President Edward G. Barrow huffed. “It would give us a semipro tone.”31

By March 20, 1944, Sewell had 20 players in camp at Cape State Teachers College in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.32 All had some major-league experience, although one, pitcher Sig Jakucki, had been out of Organized Baseball for six seasons, in part because of drinking problems.33 Off his lackluster 1943 season, Sewell wasn’t certain just how “straightened out” Kreevich really was and still considered him a “reclamation project.” The Browns enlisted a local priest to help Kreevich “temper his fondness for liquor.”34

Mead quoted Browns trainer Bob Bauman’s description of the squad: “the roughest, toughest club I’ve ever been with — you can go down the line.”35 They won nine straight games to open the 1944 season and finished April with a 10-2 record that had them in first place by 3½ games over the Yankees. Kreevich hadn’t hit a home run since July 13, 1942, with Philadelphia.36 In the 1944 home opener, though, he hit two and drove in four runs. He played stellar defense, had four-hit days on July 25 and September 16, and led the team in batting average at .301 as the Browns stayed in the American League race all the way. They capped their dream season by winning the pennant — the only one the Browns ever won — with a season-ending four-game sweep of the Yankees at Sportsman’s Park.

The improbable season carried the Browns into the first and only “Meet Me in St. Louis” World Series against the cross-town Cardinals — contested exclusively at Sportsman’s Park, the teams’ shared home. Although the Browns’ momentum carried them to a 2-1 victory in Game One on October 4, they managed only one other win and the Cardinals took the Series four games to two. Kreevich hit .231 with three doubles. He wasn’t much of a factor, except defensively with two outfield assists, which tied a Series record. Still, he counted playing in the Series one of the two main highlights of his baseball career.37

With the United States entering its fourth year in World War II, Kreevich was back in Springfield for the 1944-45 offseason, working in a war production plant. But with more military manpower needed as the Allies continued to grind down the Axis, he was classified 1A when he left the job for spring training.38 Now 37 years old, still married, and with children, Kreevich was granted a six-month 2A deferment on April 5, 1945.39 While dealing with his draft status, Kreevich had sought a salary increase, citing his 1944 season. The Browns granted it, boosting him to $11,000 for 1945, and he got off to a solid start, keeping his average close to .300 through the end of May.

By early August, though, Kreevich had slipped to .237. Pete Gray had spelled him occasionally, prompting a frustrated Kreevich to blurt out, “Gee, if I’m not playing well enough so that a one-armed man can take my job, I quit.”40 The Browns, mired in sixth place, sent Kreevich on waivers to the second-place Washington Senators, who were in a tight pennant race with Detroit.41 There was little press flurry over the move, possibly because momentous events in World War II soon ended hostilities.42 Shortly after Kreevich’s departure, Gray was installed in center field.

Kreevich took over for injured George Case as a regular in the Washington outfield, hitting .278 in 45 games. The Senators were a game behind Detroit for first place when Kreevich arrived. They stayed doggedly in the hunt, but finished second, 1½ games out. On September 23, 1945, at Philadelphia, in what turned out to be Kreevich’s last major-league game, he singled once in three at-bats, drove in a run, and worked a walk as Washington won, 4-3.

Kreevich recalled in a 1992 interview that the Senators offered him a 1946 contract that would have cut his salary in half, to $5,500.43 He would have turned 38 during the season, and ballplayers who had been in military service would return to compete for roster spots. Those were undoubtedly elements in the lowball offer. Kreevich was a career .283 hitter over 12 major-league seasons, and in his prime he’d been “rated as second only to Joe DiMaggio as the premier defensive outfielder in the American League.”44 But after weighing his options, he officially retired at the end of January 1946. He told writers that he had purchased a night club in Springfield, which he planned to call Mike Kreevich’s Tenth Inning.45

By 1950, though, the night-club business was behind him. During an extended visit with an old friend in Roanoke, Illinois (where he had played baseball while working on a road gang as a 19-year-old in the summer of 1927), he told writers he had “no present plans” and was enjoying traveling and his two hobbies — hunting and fishing.46 Those outdoor activities helped Kreevich maintain enough physical trim for him to play in White Sox old-timers games. One came in Chicago against the 1954 Sox.47 Another followed in 1956 at Yankee Stadium, matching former White Sox against former Yankees.48

Writers found Kreevich at age 55 in the summer of 1963, working as a construction site hod carrier in Wheeling, Illinois, though he still considered Mount Olive his home. He recounted how a Chicago sportswriter tabbed him “Iron Mike” after he ran into a brick wall in Boston. “I was sent to the hospital for X-rays. The same night, I caught a train for New York and played the next day.” He credited Jimmy Dykes with the White Sox and Ossie Bluege, his short-term skipper in Washington, as the two best managers he played for. He said he still enjoyed hunting and fishing, especially with his oldest son, Mike. “In the fall, we’ll go up to Wisconsin for fishing, and then bird hunting.”49

“I never thought about coaching or managing,” Kreevich said. “I was getting tired of the constant travel, and was just glad to get away from it when I quit.”50

Nearing his 84th birthday in 1992, Kreevich was “still spry and energetic” when Rick Hines caught up with him while preparing an article for Sports Collector’s Digest. Kreevich was living in Cecil, Wisconsin, to be nearer his son Mike. He judged Bob Feller the “toughest pitcher he ever faced,” and recalled Feller’s unique Opening Day no-hitter in 1940. Hitting third for the White Sox in the first inning, Kreevich worked a walk, one of five Feller issued that day. “Feller had that fastball, and he was wild enough to keep you loose.”51

David Heller’s As Good as It Got, another history of the 1944 Browns, also quotes Kreevich on Feller’s stuff that day. He told home-plate umpire Harry Geisel that one called strike “sounded a little high.”52

Kreevich also told Hines that he had given away nearly all his baseball memorabilia over the years, even his 1944 World Series ring. One memento remained — a signed team picture of the White Sox from spring training in 1936, the year he made the majors for keeps.53

A little less than two years later, on April 25, 1994, Mike Kreevich died, back home in Illinois. He was in a hospital in Pana, not far from Mount Olive.54 He was 85. His obituary listed sons Michael and Kenneth and daughter Barbara as his survivors, along with nine grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. A memorial Mass was celebrated on April 28. Mike Kreevich is interred beside his sister, Agnes Marie Kreevich Franzen, in Union Miners Cemetery in Mount Olive, his birthplace.55

Ellis Clary, a reserve on the ’44 Browns, provided a fitting epitaph for his old teammate. He called Kreevich the most underrated ballplayer he ever saw.56

 

Author’s note

My good friend and SABR colleague John Gabcik had reserved Mike Kreevich as a BioProject subject before the illness that ultimately claimed his life on August 2, 2019, made it impossible for him to do further research and writing. So, channeling John’s memories of Bob Elson in the Author’s note to his bio of the White Sox broadcaster who gave him his passion for baseball, “This one’s for you, John.”

 

Sources and acknowledgments

In addition to the sources cited in the Notes, the Baseball-Reference.com and Retrosheet.org websites provided details through player and team pages and season and daily logs and splits. The Transylvania County Library in Brevard, North Carolina, provided access to Ancestry.com for genealogical details; cited newspaper articles were accessed either through Newspapers.com or the New York Times digital archives. Cassidy Lent, manager of reference services at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, provided a copy of Mike Kreevich’s Giamatti Library file. Her cheerful assistance is greatly appreciated.

This biography was reviewed by Rory Costello, who provided helpful insight on the wartime Browns, and Len Levin. It was fact-checked by James Forr.

 

Notes

1 Although Kreevich played all but five of his 1,241 career major-league games in the American League, he debuted in the National League with the 1931 Chicago Cubs.

2 This (June 10, 1908) is the birth date reported on Mike Kreevich’s player pages at both Baseball-Reference.com and Retrosheet.org. and in the US Social Security Death Index, and engraved on his gravestone. Various player cards in his file at the Baseball Hall of Fame note erroneous birth dates of June 10, 1910, and January 4, 1910.

3 Mount Olive, located about 50 miles northeast of St. Louis and 250 miles southwest of Chicago, still had an approximate population of 3,000 at the time of the 2010 census. Some coal is still mined in the region but “coal production varies from year to year [and] the number of miners has declined steadily. Technology and natural gas [are] the two biggest culprits for the industry’s decline.” Casey Bishel, “Coal Mining Has a Deep History in Southern Illinois,” Belleville (Illinois) News-Democrat online edition, January 7, 2018, bnd.com/news/local/article193416164.html.

4 On October 12, 1898, armed conflict, later called the Virden Massacre or the Battle of Virden, between striking miners, strikebreakers, and coal company detectives resulted in multiple deaths in Virden, Illinois, 40 miles north of Mount Olive. Some of the victims are buried in Union Miners Cemetery in Mount Olive, where Mike Kreevich was also interred after his death nearly 100 years later. lib.niu.edu/2006/iht1320610.html. Six months after the Virden violence, mine owners responded to a strike called by the United Mine Workers by bringing approximately 300 African-American strikebreaking miners from Alabama into nearby Pana, Illinois. An “all-day battle between armed citizens sworn in as deputy sheriffs, and the non-union negro miners” on April 10, 1899, resulted in at least nine deaths. See: “Battle in Streets of Pana,” The Times (Streator, Illinois), April 11, 1899: 1.

5 Unattributed and undated clipping in Mike Kreevich file, Baseball Hall of Fame. “I made up my mind to forget about it and I went right on playing ball. That hand is stronger now than my right from shoveling coal. I’m a left-handed hitter, so that bum hand isn’t needed except as a guide. I can’t [complain].” By 1937 when Kreevich was in the major leagues, he had designed a special web for his baseball glove to hold the stub tight to the middle finger, preserving a pocket to catch fly balls. “Mighty Mike of White Sox Credits Power to Days Spent in Coal Mines,” Unattributed clipping dated July 31, 1937, in Mike Kreevich file, Baseball Hall of Fame.

6 In an interview 18 years after he retired from baseball, Kreevich remembered becoming acquainted with baseball “when I was five years old,” but didn’t mention playing for any school or other organized teams. His games with the Mount Olive and Edwardsville teams between 1924 and 1930 and a summer of sandlot baseball in Roanoke, Illinois, in 1927 when Kreevich was working away from home with a road crew, appear to be the extent of his amateur experience. “Ex-Big Leaguer Recalls Early Sandlot Days,” Bloomington (Illinois) Pantagraph, April 24, 1950: 11.

7 Gayle Hayes, “Baseball Benefits When Kreevich Quits Mines,” Des Moines (Iowa) Tribune, August 18, 1931: 15.

8 Bennett played seven seasons and managed 13, some as player-manager, in the hinterlands of minor-league baseball, never advancing above Class C. His Illinois coal-country connections apparently came from his time with the 1924 Cairo (Illinois) Egyptians, when he came across an injured company-team outfielder, Red Ruffing, and suggested he concentrate on pitching. He arranged Ruffing’s first professional contract with Danville, Illinois. Warren Corbett, “Red Ruffing,” SABR Baseball Biography Project., https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/7111866b.

9 Lincoln (Nebraska) Star, September 6, 1930: 6.

10 Sec Taylor, “New Outfielder a Find,” Des Moines (Iowa) Register, September 12, 1930: 13.

11 Irving Vaughan, “Home Runs and Pitching Pep Up Cubs’ Camp Game,” Chicago Tribune, March 3, 1932: 25.

12 “Mike Kreevich Hits Lustily,” Los Angeles Times, March 22, 1932: 29.

13 The wedding was January 8, 1933, according to an undated typed note in the Mike Kreevich Hall of Fame file. The couple had three children, Michael T., Barbara, and Kenneth, between 1940 and 1946. They subsequently divorced and Ann, remarried, died on December 14, 1991, in Pana, Illinois. Ann R. Gulick Talley obituary, Herald Review (Decatur, Illinois}, December 15, 1991: 13. The divorce appears to have been prior to 1956, when a marriage announcement for the couple’s oldest son, Michael T., was published. He was referred to as “the son of Mrs. Ann Kreevich of Pana [Illinois].” “Pyle-Kreevich Wedding Nov. 23,” Decatur (Illinois) Daily Review, October 25, 1956: 20. The authors found no evidence that Mike Kreevich ever remarried.

14 Irving Vaughan, “Kreevich Hits Two Home Runs,” Chicago Tribune, April 6, 1936: 23. Player-manager Jimmy Dykes was the primary White Sox third baseman in 1936. Kreevich never played third base again with the exception of 31 innings in four appearances with the 1939 Sox.

15 According to Dave Smith of Retrosheet, RBIs were introduced as a statistic in 1920. Until a rule change in 1939, batters hitting into double plays on which a run scored received credit for driving in the run. Dave Smith email responding to co-author’s SABR-L post, February 17, 2020.

16 “Lyons Faces Bridges and Tigers Today,” Chicago Tribune, June 29, 1936: 18.

17 Irving Vaughan, “Vosmik to Red Sox for Newsom,” Chicago Tribune, December 3, 1937: 27.

18 Kreevich, who totaled only 45 home runs over 12 seasons in the major leagues, also hit two home runs in a game on April 21, 1944, against the White Sox at Sportsman’s Park as a member of the St. Louis Browns.

19 Rick Hines, 1992 interview with Mike Kreevich, “Mike Kreevich: Solid Outfielder for White Sox, Browns,” Sports Collector’s Digest, May 8, 1992, in Mike Kreevich Hall of Fame file.

20 According to The All-Time Major League Handbook by Bill James (1998), the National League first compiled this category in its official year-end statistics in 1933. No GIDP data exists for the American League from 1933 through 1938. Presumably because Goslin’s ineptitude was still recent and memorable, it came to mind when Kreevich suffered the same fate in 1939. Torre’s misadventure came on July 21, 1975, when he was a member of the New York Mets. See: Howard Smith (Associated Press), “A Crummy Way to Make the Book,” Battle Creek (Michigan) Enquirer, July 22, 1975: 15.

21 Irving Vaughan, “Sox Get Moses from A’s in Kreevich Deal,” Chicago Tribune, December 10, 1941: 35.

22 Vaughan.

23 “A’s Give 4 Players Outright Releases,” Philadelphia Inquirer, December 8, 1942: 31. The United States had entered World War II a year earlier after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

24 William B. Mead, Even The Browns (Chicago: Contemporary Books, Inc., 1978), 111.

25 Ralph D. Palmer (United Press), “Baseball Axiom ‘Weak Down Middle’ Hits Chances of St. Louis Browns,” Call-Leader (Elwood, Indiana), March 30, 1943: 4.

26 Mead, 112.

27 Mead, 112; “Mike Kreevich, New Brownie, Father Again,” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, February 4, 1943: 11. Mike and Ann Kreevich had their second child, Barbara, in Springfield in February 1943.

28 “Kreevich Signed by Browns After Talk with Sewell,” St. Louis Globe-Democrat, January 19, 1943: 11.

29 Unattributed clipping dated December 23, 1943, in Mike Kreevich Hall of Fame file.

30 William B. Mead, “Can Braves Do What the Browns Did?” New York Times, April 25, 1982: Section 5, 2.

31 Mead, “Can Braves Do What the Browns Did?”

32 The school is now Southeast Missouri State University, with an enrollment of approximately 11,000.

33 Bill Borst, The Best of Seasons: The 1944 St. Louis Cardinals and St. Louis Browns (Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Co., Inc., 1995), 27, 32, 50.

34 Borst, 50; Mead, “Can Braves Do.”

35 Mead, Even the Browns, 149.

36 Kreevich did not hit a home run in 193 plate appearances in 1943, his first season with St. Louis.

37 Hines 1992 interview.

38 “Board Calls Kreevich,” New York Times, April 3, 1945: 23.

39 “Browns’ Kreevich Is Placed in 2A,” New York Daily News, April 5, 1945: 114.

40 Mead, Even the Browns, 210.

41 “Brownies Sell Mike Kreevich To Washington,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 8, 1945: 14.

42 Kreevich was waived on August 8, 1945. On August 6 the United States had dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. On August 9, a second atomic bomb was deployed against Nagasaki, Japan. Japan formally surrendered on September 2, 1945, ending World War II.

43 Hines 1992 interview.

44 Chicago Old-Timers Program note, otherwise unattributed and dated 1980, in Mike Kreevich Hall of Fame file,

45 “Mike Kreevich, a Demon in ’31, Will Quit Baseball,” Des Moines Register, January 30, 1946: 11.

46 Ex-Big Leaguer Recalls Early Sandlot Days,” Bloomington (Illinois) Pantagraph, April 24, 1950: 11.

47 “Who Needed Relief?” Press and Sun-Bulletin (Binghamton, New York), August 10, 1954: 17.

48 Joseph M. Sheehan, “Fans Here Laud Spry Old-Timers,” New York Times, August 26, 1956: 227-28.

49 Bill Halls, “‘Iron Mike’ Kreevich Recalls Days of Blood ‘n Guts Baseball,” Chicago Daily Herald, August 1, 1963: 28.

50 Halls.

51 Kreevich remembered accurately. According to Retrosheet.org., in 65 career at-bats against Feller, he hit .215 with 10 strikeouts. His walk in the April 16, 1940, no-hitter was one of only four Kreevich managed against Feller in his career.

52 David Heller, As Good as It Got (Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing, 2003), 21.

53 Hines 1992 interview.

54 Mike Kreevich obituary, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 28, 1994: 19.

55 Bill Lee, The Baseball Necrologythebbnlive.com/PlayerInfoByKeyID.aspx?KeyID=kreevmi01.

56 Heller, 22.

Full Name

Michael Andreas Kreevich

Born

June 10, 1908 at Mount Olive, IL (USA)

Died

April 25, 1994 at Pana, IL (USA)

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