Joltin’ Jo

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From Chia, a blog entry about the last professional ballplayer to hit over .400. And no, it wasn’t Ted Williams. He wasn’t even the second to last. (That was apparently Artie Wilson of the Birmingham Black Barons in 1948.) According to Mike Adamick, the last person to .400 in professional baseball was Joanne Weaver of the Fort Wayne Daisies who hit .429.
The blog entry is a good read, if a little long, don’t get me wrong — I’m all for educating people about the AAGPBL (which it was only called in 1954, I believe — ’54 was also the only year they played actual baseball and not a baseball/softball hybrid). In fact, I spent much of my 7th grade tracking down every published book on the subject (at the time, there were 6) and eventually using them as sources for a 12 page “research paper.” (My first such paper ever — I should try and find it.)
However, Mike Adamick gets it slightly wrong. The last professional ball player to hit over .400 for an entire season was not Joltin’ Jo Weaver. It was Aaron Pointer, brother of The Pointer Sisters (no really — I’m so excited, I just can’t hide it). He hit .402 for the Salisbury Braves of the then-single-A South Atlantic League in 1961. (Actually, you have to throw the qualification that he was the last to do it in the US as apparently numerous people have done it in Mexican AAA. However, no one has done it yet in the Japanese pro league.)
So kudos to Joanne Weaver, and it’s unfortunate that she was forced to “retire” from professional baseball at only 19. And a tip of the cap to Mike Adamick for bringing her to the fore in his blog… but let’s give Aaron Pointer his due along side her and Artie Wilson. (Yes, you could argue that Weaver and Wilson weren’t allowed to play in the majors and that’s why their leagues get special mention alongside the MLB and the minors don’t. But he specified professional baseball and it’s too difficult to compare women’s and men’s records as it is.)

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4 responses »

  1. You know, I just recently found out that according to official MLB rules Williams didn’t have enough at-bats to qualify for the batting title in ’41? If you go to baseball-almanac.com you’ll find that the immortal Cecil Travis won the crown, batting .359.

  2. I got bored trying to find this on the internet, but I’m pretty sure that Tony Oliva hit over 400 in 1961 while playing for the Wyethville Twins of the Appalachian League. If memory serves, and it usually doesn’t, he hit something like .410.
    The Twins site mentions that he won the Silver Slugger for minor league players that year, but is strangely silent on his actual BA.
    I leave it to better Googlers to prove this.

  3. According to this and this, you’re right. He hit .410 in 64 games in the Appalachian League. How the heck do you recall things like that?
    (Given that it says 64 games, it probably doesn’t count as a record because it wasn’t a full summer season.)
    And just FYI, I found it by googling “Tony Oliva minor league stats” and those pages were the first two hits.

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