Tomasik: A tribute to 1962 Cardinals phenom Fred Whitfield

From SABR member Mark Tomasik at RetroSimba on February 6, 2013:

As a Cardinals rookie in 1962, Fred Whitfield was rated as having one of the quickest bats in the National League. A first baseman and left-handed batter, Whitfield was one of the best power-hitting prospects the Cardinals’ farm system had produced in years.

“He has a quicker bat than anyone on the Cardinals and he can reach the roof at Busch Stadium,” Vern Benson, a coach for the 1962 Cardinals, told The Sporting News.

Said Phillies manager Gene Mauch after watching the Cardinals rookie pound Philadelphia pitching: “Fred Whitfield is the greatest hitter I’ve ever seen _ for the number of times I’ve seen him bat against us.”

The Sporting News hailed Whitfield as the Cardinals’ “biggest surprise of 1962″ and Whitfield was selected by big-league managers, coaches and players as the first baseman on the 1962 Topps all-star rookie team.

Still, the Cardinals traded Whitfield to the Indians after the season.

Whitfield, 75, died Jan. 31, 2013, in his native Alabama. According to an obituary in The Birmingham News, Whitfield, retired from Anderson Electric, “was an avid outdoorsman and enjoyed playing bluegrass and gospel music on his guitar.”

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Originally published: February 6, 2013. Last Updated: February 6, 2013.