Pete Suder (Trading Card DB)

Pete Suder

This article was written by Tom Bowen - Mel Marmer

Pete Suder (Trading Card DB)To be an everyday player for nearly every year of a 13-year career with just one team, a player must be doing something right. For Pete “Pecky” Suder, a career .249 hitter, a dependable glove and versatility were the keys to that longevity. Playing only for the Philadelphia/Kansas City Athletics from 1941-1955 (with 1944-45 spent serving in WWII), Suder was the Opening Day starter in all but two of his seasons, and he was the season-long regular in those other two. Called “the solid man of the Athletics” by journalist Red Smith1, at various points in his career he was the team’s regular second baseman, shortstop, and third baseman.

Suder is best remembered for being the second baseman in the most prolific double-play combination of all-time. Teaming with shortstop Eddie Joost, first baseman, Ferris Fain (and third baseman Hank Majeski), Suder’s Athletics turned over 200 double plays three consecutive years, a feat that may never be matched. Suder prided himself on never being taken out by an oncoming runner while pivoting for the double play. But his career and value to the Athletics organization went much beyond double plays. He went about his work in a quiet, workmanlike manner, yet he also knew when to bring out his dry sense of humor, often being voted the wittiest player on the team by sportswriters.

Peter Suder was born April 16, 1916, in Aliquippa, Pennsylvania, 22 miles northwest of Pittsburgh. He was the eighth of 10 children born to Mike Suder, a wire-gauger for Jones and Loughlin Steel Company2 and his wife, the former Smilja (smil-ya) Segan (she´-gan)3. Mike emigrated from rural Serbia before the turn of the century and worked at a steel mill in Monessen, Pennsylvania. After three years, he sent for his wife. Mike’s given name was Bozidar Sucevic (su-che’-vich), and he was known as “Bogic” (bo-gich) to his friends. Mike’s bosses at work found his name difficult to pronounce and helped to have the entire family’s name changed to one easier on the palate.4

Mike and Smilja’s first five children were born in Monessen after the turn of the century, four girls: Minnie, Helen, Katie, and Annie, and a boy, Mike. After gaining experience, Mike left for a better opportunity at a new steel company in Aliquippa, and five boys were born there: Milton, Charles, Peter, Theodore and George. Most of the boys had childhood nicknames that stayed with them into adulthood, Milton’s was “Mooshie,” Pete’s was “Pecky,” Theodore’s was “Tode” and George’s was “Juke.”5

In the 1920’s, Aliquippa was sports crazy like the rest of the country and Suder excelled in baseball and basketball. At age seven he played baseball for the Reds, a team named for a local bar. From elementary school on, he was a basketball teammate of Petar “Press” Maravich, who later earned fame as a college basketball coach and as father and trainer of NBA Hall-of-Fame shooting guard “Pistol Pete” Maravich.6

Suder played baseball and basketball for his Aliquippa High School team and graduated in 1934. While playing American Legion baseball he was spotted by Joe Beggs, a local pitcher in the New York Yankees’ farm system serving as a bird dog scout for the Yanks.7 Beggs recommended signing Suder to a Class D contract with the Washington, Pennsylvania, Generals about 40 miles from home. Generals manager Benny Bengough worked him out and told him he had made the team. However, since the team was in the playoffs, Suder was ineligible to play but was invited to practice with the team and to watch their games.

In an interview, Suder stated, “The following spring I received a letter in the mail to report to spring training. When I arrived, there were 17 men standing at the third base position. I didn’t think I’d have to try out all over again, but that’s what they wanted me to do. I figured I wouldn’t make the cut with all those men there, so I left camp and hitched a ride home. When I got back home early, my brother Milton figured out what had happened and drove me right back to camp. After a few days, I wanted to leave again— I figured I’d play for the team at the steel mill, but they told me I couldn’t play anywhere else because I had signed a contract. ‘We have your contract,’ they said, —I had forgotten I’d signed one. Besides, I was homesick. Can you believe that? It was the first time I’d been away from home.”8

Suder beat out the other candidates for the third base job. He played in 100 games and batted .294, thus beginning a slow but steady climb up the ladder in the New York Yankees minor league system.

In 1936, Suder was sent to Akron in the Class C Middle Atlantic League, where he batted .309 and hit 18 home runs. He was promoted to Class B Norfolk in the Piedmont League the following season, where he had 34 doubles, 22 home runs and an even .300 average. In 1938 he hit .278 at Class A Binghamton.

Suder was promoted in 1939 to the then highest minor-league level — Double A — and assigned to the Newark Bears of the International League. However, a sore arm suffered in spring training that year hindered Suder’s performance. Yankee executives first sent him home to rest, then wanted to send him down to their New Orleans or Hollywood teams. Suder balked at that and was later told to return to Newark for the 1939 season.9

With the pressure on him to produce, Suder hit just .237 in 42 games. The Yankees front office did not want to see any more— they made an excuse for Suder by publicly blaming his woes on the excitement of becoming a new father10 (son Peter Jr., born April 1, 1939)11, while purchasing third base prospect Bob Kahle from the Boston Bees. Suder finished the season with the Class A Binghamton Triplets in the Eastern League, but did not fare much better there, batting only .248 in 67 games. “I had as much chance of reaching the Yankee infield as Abe Simon has of beating Joe Louis,” recalled Suder later. “I was not surprised when I was sent to Binghamton. In fact, I was pleased.”12

Suder returned to Binghamton in 1940 but with different results this time. He batted .301 with 16 home runs and led the Eastern League in total bases with 257, helping the “Trips” win the Eastern League Championship. He was easily selected the league MVP as well as the fans’ most popular player on his team.13 The Yankees, however, left Suder unprotected in the 1940 Rule 5 Draft, and the Philadelphia Athletics claimed him with the second pick after the Philadelphia Phillies had selected pitcher Rube Melton.14

The A’s had fallen on hard times since the Great Depression. In the previous five years, they had never finished better than seventh in the eight-team league, nor won more than 55 games. Manager Connie Mack’s 1940 squad had arguably the worst infield in baseball. Mack felt Suder was about to change that. Before Suder had played a game for the A’s, Mack proclaimed him his starting third baseman, adding, “Suder is the smoothest fielder I have had since Larry [Nap] Lajoie.”15

Suder was indeed the starting third baseman for the Athletics on Opening Day, the day before his 25th birthday. He collected his first major league hit that day, an RBI double in the 9th off future Hall of Famer Red Ruffing, in a 3-1 win over the Yankees, also fielding third base flawlessly with five assists. He was the regular third baseman for most of the season, hitting .270 through July, but slumped in August and September to drop his season average to .245 with just four home runs, eventually losing his starting job in the final weeks of the season. Slow afoot, he grounded into a league-high 23 double plays, causing Mack to remark, “He is so slow, it is painful to watch him run.”16

Although generally quiet, Suder was known throughout his career for his dry wit. In spring training in 1942, after a four-hit game, Suder decided to phone his home back in Aliquippa to tell his wife Liz.17 When she put his son Pete Jr. on the line after, the boy started crying, saying, “Please come home Daddy, tonight.” Suder got so emotional that he couldn’t talk for the next two minutes, resulting in an $8.20 phone bill. “They are the most expensive four hits I ever made,” he quipped.18

The 1942 season saw Suder as the A’s Opening Day starting shortstop, and he played short in about half of his games that season. He also spent time starting at second and third base. He improved his batting average slightly to .256, but the A’s won only 55 games, finishing in the cellar for the third straight season.

Suder opened the 1943 season as the starting second baseman, his third different Opening Day starting position. He got off to a difficult start, batting just .201 through May, and although he rallied, he was never able to find a consistent groove at the plate, ending the season with a .221 average and just three homers, splitting his time at second and third base.

A difficult 1943 was made a little better in November, when the Suders’ second child, George, was born on November 10.

Suder was inducted into the Army in March 1944. He was processed at the New Cumberland Gap, Pennsylvania, Army Center after they had announced they would abandon their Army championship baseball team.19 Suder was assigned to the Army Corps of Combat Engineers, where he specialized in building steel pontoon bridges, perhaps because he had worked in the steel mill back home. The only comment that Suder made when asked about his army experience was that he built bridges over the Rhine River. 20

Returning to the Athletics in 1946, Suder found himself in the unfamiliar role of reserve. However, in early May, Mack put Suder into the starting lineup at shortstop and Suder responded well. Playing shortstop and third base, Suder kept himself in the lineup with his glove and his bat. By the end of the month, he was hitting over .300. He played all four infield positions that season, batting .281 in 128 games. A highlight was his first career grand slam on August 1, off White Sox pitcher Gordon Maltzberger in a 7-6 loss to the Sox. He batted .321 with 31 RBIs over the final two months of the season. in a 7-6 loss to the Sox.

By 1947, Suder was fully established as the A’s everyday second baseman. Further, the A’s had made some additions to their infield which strengthened the team. Third baseman Hank Majeski had been purchased from the Yankees during the previous season, and veteran shortstop Eddie Joost had been acquired at the conclusion of 1946 in a trade with the Cardinals. There was also a new first baseman in rookie Ferris Fain. These four would form one of the finest defensive infields in the league for most of the next six seasons.

At age 31, Suder was now one of the veterans of the team, and Mack treated him as such. Beginning in 1947, Mack had Suder sit next to him in the dugout as his spotter, keeping count of balls and strikes. “When we were up, I’d tell him what the count was, but when we were behind, I wouldn’t tell him if it were 3-1 or 2-0 because I knew he’d put on the “take” sign,” Suder said. “How are you going to get a run if you don’t swing at the ball?”21

With essentially the same personnel in 1948, the A’s and Suder got off to a great start. Suder batted over .300 for most of May, and the A’s found themselves in first place at the close of the month. Suder fell into a slump at the plate for most of June and July, but the A’s stayed competitive, never trailing first place by more than four games. They were still in first place as late as August 11. Suder batted .277 over those final two months of the season, but the A’s faltered, going just 19-27 after August 11 to finish in fourth place.

The 1949 season was a notable one for Suder, as well as for the entire infield. Suder had arguably his finest season at the plate, with career highs in homers (10) and RBIs (75). His highlight was a Sunday, June 12 doubleheader in St. Louis. After going 2-for-4 in a loss in the first game, he led a second game win with the only five-hit game of his career, including two doubles and a homer. For the day he was 7-for-10 with six RBIs against eight Browns pitchers. While the A’s were not part of the pennant race as they had been the year before, they nonetheless finished only three games worse than in 1948.

Defensively, the 1949 Philadelphia A’s set a record that may never be broken. Completing 217 double plays, they shattered the previous record of 198 set by the 1945 Red Sox. As Joost later said, “We had the best defensive unit [in the league] with me, Suder, Hank Majeski, and Ferris Fain. Pete Suder and I were the best double-play combination I ever saw. He was a good fielder, a good thrower, and did a good job at the plate. He was a complete player. Yet he got no credit, especially before I got there.”22

Only once in all the years since 1949 has a team challenged that double play record. The 1966 Pittsburgh Pirates, with Bill Mazeroski and Gene Alley, finished the season with 215 twin killings. Retired and living in his Aliquippa home near Pittsburgh, Suder watched many of those Pirate games on television. “I was sweating it out,” Suder said later in an interview with Gino Piroli of Suder’s hometown Beaver County Times. “It’s just nice to be part of baseball history.”23

Through the 2023 season, only 12 times had a team recorded 200 or more double plays in a season. Three of those teams were the Athletics, with Suder, Joost, and Fain. They achieved it in consecutive seasons from 1949-1951. Their three-year record total of 629 DPs seems safe for a while.

Mack was at the helm for his 50th and final season for the A’s in 1950, and Suder was once again his starting second baseman on Opening Day. He got off to a horrendous start, though, batting just .186 through April. He lost his starting job, first briefly to rookie Gene Markland, and then in early June to veteran Billy Hitchcock. Hitchcock’s hitting kept Suder on the bench until late August when Hitchcock slumped. Suder played in just 77 games, the least he had played in any season to that point and hit .246. His eight homers in half a season’s worth of games were a highlight, as was the game on May 17 when he tied a major league record by taking part in five double plays at second base. But the A’s fell back down to the American League cellar in Mack’s final season.

As the 1951 season approached, Suder appeared to be on the outside looking in, as Hitchcock was slated to resume his role as the regular second baseman, and Kermit Wahl looked to retain his job at third. According to A’s beat writer Art Morrow, Mack’s feeling had always been that Suder’s best role was that of a utility backup given his versatility, and new manager Jimmy Dykes felt he had the infield to enable this.24

However, Dykes was having trouble getting hits out of any of the three. After Hitchcock struggled to hit, Suder replaced him at second, but his quiet bat gave the position back to Hitchcock. As was becoming a trend for Suder and the A’s, there was not enough hitting from those ahead of Suder to warrant keeping his glove on the bench. Both Hitchcock and Wahl struggled to bat above .200 for the first month of the season. By the end of April, Suder replaced Hitchcock, but while he went 6-for-12 in his first three games, he, too, slumped for the next two weeks, yielding the spot back to Hitchcock. When Joost was forced to sit out for a week after being hit by a pitch, Suder filled in at shortstop and started hitting again, going 8-for-17 in Joost’s absence.

Suder had a little fun with the injured Joost after going 2-for-4 in both games of a double header, calling him at the hospital. “I just knocked out two for four,” he said to Joost. “I guess you’ll be getting better real quick now, huh?” Joost was out for only four games.25

When Joost returned, Suder’s hitting kept him in the lineup, shifting over to second base, with Hitchcock moving to third. Suder continued to hit, batting .327 for his first month after Joost’s injury. But in a June 18 exhibition game against the crosstown Phillies, Suder hurt his knee and had to miss 12 starts.26 Upon his return, Suder stayed in the lineup the rest of the season, playing all but eight of the remaining games. However, the injury may have had a lingering effect, as his batting declined. He finished the season with a .245 average and just one home run, his lowest home run total to that point in his career. He did lead all AL second basemen with a .987 fielding percentage.

For the rest of his career, the story remained the same. In March, there would be new rookies or acquisitions that the A’s would expect to replace Suder. But in April, Suder would end up starting on Opening Day. For 1952, it was two rookies, Everett “Skeeter” Kell and Jack Littrell, who had both shown promise in the minors at the A ball level. Suder did open the season as the starting second baseman, but after a slow start at the plate, Dykes tried Kell at second. For the season, Suder appeared in 74 games, playing second, third, and shortstop. He managed a .241 average with just 20 RBIs and one homer. It was a good season for the Athletics, who finished four games over .500 and in fourth place, but not a good one for Suder. And it was made worse in early September when his father Mike died at age 80.27

Cass Michaels, who had taken over the second base job after being acquired on waivers in August of 1952, was expected to retain his spot in 1953. Suder had an excellent spring training though, batting over .300,28 and won the third base job. Two weeks into the season, however, the A’s acquired third baseman Loren Babe from the Yankees. Dykes immediately inserted Babe into the starting lineup, despite Suder’s .366 batting average. “We all know old Pete can’t keep it up, he never has,” said Dykes. “Anyway, we’ve got to give Babe his chance.”29

Both Babe and Michaels had troubles hitting, however, and Suder was soon back in the lineup, and he responded with one of his finest seasons, batting over .300 for much of the season and filling his utility man role by starting games at third, second, and shortstop. A late season slump dropped his average to .286, with 4 home runs and 35 RBIs in 115 games. Although he never made an all-star team, he came close in 1953, finishing third in the voting at third base behind Al Rosen and George Kell.30

Suder had his own explanation for his solid year: “Thirty-seven years old and I learned I wasn’t a home run hitter. I was always swinging for home runs and how many would I hit? Four, three, ten once. Jimmie Dykes told me I could get 50 more hits if I’d quit pulling and just punch balls to right and center. I did what he said, and I got 80 more hits.”31

For 1954, Spook Jacobs, who had hit well the previous two years in AA ball, was considered the front-runner for the second base job. Eddie Joost had taken over as player-manager of the team and had more confidence in his old double-play mate. Joost said, “Spook Jacobs was pushed down my throat all spring training… I still preferred Suder at second.”32

As it turned out, Joost started Suder at third on Opening Day. But just seven games into the season, Suder pulled a groin muscle in a game against Washington, opening the door for another rookie, Jim Finnigan. Finnigan put together a fine rookie year, batting over .300 and making the AL All-Star team. Suder backed him and Jacobs up, appearing in a total of 69 games and batting a career-low .200.

Suder knocked in the last two A’s runs scored at Connie Mack Stadium with a single in the bottom of the fifth on September 19. He was their starting second baseman a week later in their final game as the Philadelphia Athletics. The team would move to Kansas City for the 1955 season.

The A’s had a new home for 1955, and a new manager in Lou Boudreau, but the personnel was little changed from 1954. Most indications had Jacobs and Finnigan retaining their jobs at second and third base, respectively. However, on Opening Day, Boudreau penciled Suder’s name in at second base. “We have a young infield,” Boudreau said. “We need someone to steady the infield and keep things running smoothly. I think Suder is that man.”33

Suder played in 26 of the team’s 41 games through May, mostly starting at second base. On May 31, the A’s signed 18-year-old Clete Boyer to a $50,000 bonus. Under the rules of the day, such “Bonus Babies” were required to spend two years with the major league club. The A’s released Suder on June 1 to make room for Boyer, ending Suder’s playing career.34 At the time of his release, Suder ranked third in Athletics’ history in games played and sixth in at bats.35 Suder stayed in organized baseball for a few more years. The A’s hired him as a scout for the western Pennsylvania/Ohio/Indiana region after he was released. In 1957, the Senators hired him to manage their Class B team in Kinston, NC,36 and their Class B team in Appleton (Fox Cities), WI, for 1958.37 He resumed scouting for the Senators in 1959 before leaving baseball.38

From 1960-1968, Suder worked for the Beaver County Jail in Aliquippa, a facility holding up to 250 inmates for up to one year. He progressed from guard to deputy warden, to the facility’s warden before being replaced by the incoming political party.39 He was then elected to serve on the Aliquippa School Board for two four-year terms.40

Around his 90th birthday, Suder contracted a bad case of pneumonia. His wife Mimi had died in August 2006, and Suder died of pneumonia on November 14, 2006, at the age of 90. He is buried at the Saint Elijah Serbian Cemetery in Aliquippa.



Co-author Mel Marmer died on June 30, 2022, before he could complete this biography. His partner, Vickie Aspinwall, supplied Mel’s latest draft, which was brought to completion by Tom Bowen, reviewed by Paul Proia and David Bilmes, and fact-checked by Ray Danner.



1 Red Smith, “Views of Sports,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, March 3, 1954, 40.

2Bogic ‘Mike Suder’ Sucevic.”

3Smilja Shegan Sucevic.”

4 Peter Suder, telephone interview with Mel Marmer, January 21, 2003 (hereafter Suder-Marmer interview).

5 Suder-Marmer interview.

6 Mark Kriegel, Pistol – The Life of Pete Maravich, New York: Simon & Schuster (2007): 21.

7 “Beggs Found Suder,” Bradford Evening Star and The Bradford Daily Record, December 10, 1940: 12.

8 Suder-Marmer interview.

9 “Aliquippa Youth Rejoins Newark,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, April 19, 1939: 18.

10 “Bears Scare Own Boss, But Make Others Happy,” The Sporting News, April 6, 1939: 3.

11 Rick Suder, email correspondence.

12 Stan Baumgartner, “Mack Praises Recruit Suder,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, March 15, 1941: 22.

13 The Sporting News, September 5, 1940: 13.

14 “Brooklyn Lands Four of 14 Taken in Major Draft,” The Sporting News, October 10, 1940: 5.

15 “’Suder Smoothest I’ve Seen Since Lajoie,’ Declares Mack,” Binghamton Press, March 15, 1941: 15.

16 Stan Baumgartner, “Mack Gives ‘Works’ to A’s Inner-Works,” The Sporting News, September 11, 1941: 14.

17 ”Pete ’Pecky’ Suder,” Accessed December 12, 2023. Suder’s first wife was Violet ’Liz’ Tatalovich. Three years after her death in 1973, he married Armenia ’Mimi’ Casoli.

18 Stan Baumgartner, “Rain Deters A’s, Pittsburgh Again,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, April 10, 1942: 33.

19 “New Cumberland Camp Will Quit Baseball,” The Allentown Morning Call, April 7, 1944: 25.

20 Suder-Marmer interview.

21 Suder-Marmer interview.

22 Danny Peary, We Played the Game, New York: Hyperion Publishing (1994): 41.

23 “Pete Suder Dead at 90,” Philadelphia Athletics Historical Society website,

24 Art Morrow, “Jimmie Parades A’s Prospects in Grapefruit Tilts,” The Sporting News, March 21, 1951: 11.

25 Art Morrow, “Aid on Bench Proves Value of A’s Trades,” The Sporting News, May 30, 1951: 6.

26 Art Morrow, “Detroit’s 12 Hits Swamp A’s, 9-3,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, June 22, 1951: 39.

27 “Obituary,” The Sporting News, September 17, 1952: 29.

28 Art Morrow, “Mack Believes A’s Have Their Best Squad in Years,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, March 23, 1953: 28.

29 Art Morrow, “A’s Bolster 3d Base, Buy Yanks’ Babe,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, April 27, 1953: 28.

30 “All-Star Baseball Poll,” The Chicago Tribune, July 6, 1953: 49.

31 Red Smith, “Views of Sports,” The Philadelphia Inquirer, March 3, 1954: 40.

32 Peary, 263.

33 Joe McGuff, “Old Story for Kellner,” The Kansas City Star, April 10, 1955: 1B-2B.

34 “Veteran Pete Suder Released by Athletics,” San Bernadino County Daily Sun, June 2, 1955: 45.

35 “American League Clubs’ All-Time Top Ten in Batting Departments,” Baseball Digest, May 1973: 88.

36 Dick Pierce, “Sports Asides,” Charlotte Observer, March 24, 1957: 6-D.

37 “Pete Suder Will Manage Appleton 3-I League Club,” Janesville Daily Gazette, December 24, 1957: 12.

38 “Replaces Pete Suder,” Binghamton Press, November 19, 1958: 55.

39 Ed Nichols, “Stars of Times Gone By,” Salisbury Daily Times, May 30, 1968: 29.

40 A copy of Suder’s obituary in Beaver County Times was posted by Bill Schenley to a Google groups site on November 19, 2006. “Pete Suder, 90, Was IFer With Philadelphia Athletics,”, accessed, November 5, 2023.

Full Name

Peter Suder


April 16, 1916 at Aliquippa, PA (USA)


November 14, 2006 at Aliquippa, PA (USA)

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