Saturday, July 19, 2014

Happy Baseball Birthday... Ben Geraghty

Ben Geraghty is a special person in Jacksonville baseball history.

The former big league ballplayer is today's Happy Baseball Birthday!

Benjamin Raymond Geraghty was born on July 19, 1912, in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Ben Geraghty Baseball Reference page.

Ben Geraghty SABR page.

Ben went to Villanova University, and signed as a free agent with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

On April 17, 1936, Ben made his big league debut with the Dodgers,  and played in 51 games for Brooklyn, collecting 25 hits in129 at bats.

Ben played in the minors from 1937-42, making it back to the big leagues with the Boston Braves in 1943.

Ben played in just 8 games with the Braves in '43, and 11 games in 1944.

His big league career lasted parts of three years and 70 games, with Ben collecting 29 base hits, 4 doubles, 9 RBI, in 146 at bats, batting .199.

In 1946, while playing for the Class B Spokane Indians of the Western League, Geraghty survived a horrific team bus crash that sent him flying out a window, and down a hill.

Nine fellow players and the teams manager were killed, and Geraghty's injuries ended his playing career.

He took over as the Indians coach in '46, and in '47 led the Indians to a 87 win season and second place finish.

1946 began a 17 year minor league managerial career, including eight years here in Jacksonville, as the manager of the JAX Tars, Braves, and Suns.

He won five pennants managing in Jacksonville between 1953 through 1959, including managing a skinny second baseman for the JAX Braves named Hank Aaron.

In 1951 Geraghty's JAX Tars beat the big league Boston Red Sox in an exhibition game.

Geraghty helped integrate proffessional baseball in the "Jim Crow" south, and fought for his players of color throughout his managerial career.

Aaron said  Geraghty was "...the kindest and best manager I've ever played for."

This Jacksonville Braves ballcap is the same design that Geraghty and Hank Aaron wore while with the Braves.

I'm going to have to add this cap to my collection of Suns baseball caps.

Geraghty won 1, 317 games as a minor league manager in Class A Sally League and the AAA American Association,   and his 610-457 record as a Jacksonville manager (including games managed), are all franchise records.

Geraghty led the 1962 JAX Suns to the 1962 International League pennant.

Ben Geraghty had a heart attack and passed away at the age of 50 on June 18, 1963, here in Jacksonville.

Ben Geraghty is enshrined in the Florida Sports Hall of Fame.

This year the Jacksonville Suns franchise started the LEGENDS of JACKSONVILLE BASEBALL, and Geraghty was part of the inaugural class that included Aaron, Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, Phil Niekro, Hoyt Wilhelm, Peter Bragan, Sr., Sam Wolfson, and Dom Mullaney.

Happy Baseball Birthday! Ben!

Play Ball!

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