Today’s Leading Off with True Blue LA podcast takes a longer look at center fielder Jigger Statz, one of the most incredible and underrated players in baseball history.
Statz played two years with the Dodgers in 1927-28, and was rather ordinary for Brooklyn, so much so that in May 2020 we drafted him to our ‘Major League’ team of ragtag players who accumulated no more than one win above replacement with the Dodgers. But there is so much more to Statz.
He was listed at 5’7, and somewhere between 145 and 153 pounds during his playing career, and relief on his speed and incredible defense in the outfield to make an impact. Duke Snider once reportedly said Statz was the best center fielder he ever saw, and Statz played with a glove in which he cut a hole out of the center to “get a better feel” for the ball.
In all, Statz played parts of eight major league seasons with the Giants, Red Sox, Cubs, and Dodgers. But between 1920 and 1942, Statz also played in 18 different years with the Los Angeles Angels of the Pacific Coast League, part of an incredible 24-year playing career that saw Statz amass 4,093 hits and score 2,372 runs.
Statz lived an incredible baseball life that also included three years managing the Angels while he was still playing, then later serving as a scout for the Cubs and two more years managing in Visalia. He later served as technical adviser for the movie ‘The Winning Team,’ about pitcher Grover Cleveland Alexander, who was played by Ronald Reagan.
- Statz’s SABR bio, written by Bill Nowlin
- Holy Cross on Statz, who played baseball and golf at the school
- Pacific Coast League records, at Wikipedia
- ‘The Winning Team’ (1952) at IMDb
- “The greatest Angel of them all,” the LA Times obituary for Statz in 1988
Episode link (time: 32:37)