Del Crandall who was recently elected into the Atlanta Braves Hall of Fame."> Del Crandall who was recently elected into the Atlanta Braves Hall of Fame.">

Great Braves Through The Ages: Del Crandall

Was Del Crandall the greatest catcher in Braves history? In his latest "Great Braves Through The Ages", Dan Pace profiles the stellar career of Braves catcher <B>Del Crandall</B> who was recently elected into the Atlanta Braves Hall of Fame.

Some of the big news this offseason is the possible loss of long time Braves catcher Javy Lopez. Many consider Javy to be the greatest catcher in the history of the Braves. But the Braves have had quite a few catchers who may deserve that honor. This week we look at one of those catchers in former Brave Del Crandall.

Del Crandall was born March 5th 1930 and was signed by the Braves as a free agent in 1948. After playing most of the 1949 sesason at AAA Evansville (Indiana) Del was called up to join the Braves on June 16th. Crandall got into 67 games that year with the Braves and hit .263 with 10 doubles, 1 triple, 4 home runs, 21 runs scored and 34 rbi.

In 1950 Del struggled at the plate in 79 games hitting only .220 with 11 doubles, 4 home runs, 21 runs scored and 37 rbi. Little did Del know was that it would be his last season as a Boston Brave. In 1951 and 1952 Del was drafted into Military service for the Korean War. When he ruturned in 1953 the Braves had packed up and moved the franchise to Milwaukee. Del was given the starting catching job and played 116 games. That year Del hit .272 with 13 doubles, 1 triple, 15 home runs, 55 runs scored and 51 rbi.

1954 was another solid season for Crandall. He only hit .242 but he managed to collect 18 doubles, 2 triples, 21 home runs, 60 runs scored and 64 rbi. 1955 would be a similar season for Del. His average continued to drop but his power numbers increased. Hitting only .236 he had 15 doubles, 2 triples, 26 home runs, 61 runs scored and 62 rbi. In 1956 Crandall really struggled at the plate getting into only 112 games. That year he hit .238 with 14 doubles, 2 triples, 16 home runs, 37 runs scored and 48 rbi.

In 1957 Del only got into 118 ball games but improved at the plate. In 383 at bats Del had 11 doubles, 2 triples, 15 home runs, 45 runs scored and 46 rbi while hitting .253. That season the Braves won the National League pennant and faced the New York Yankees in the World series. It would be a classic series going 7 games. In the series Del struggled at the plate hitting .211 with 1 home run, 1 rbi and scoring only 1 run. But the Braves won the series 4 games to 3 behind the great game calling of Crandall and 3 complete games by pitcher Lew Burdette.

1958 Del hit .272 and also collected a career high 23 doubles with 1 triple, 18 home runs, 50 runs scored and 63 rbi. Once again the Braves won the National league pennant and squared off against the Yankees in a 7 game fall classic. This time the Yankees won the series 4 games to 3. Crandall only slightly improved at the plate in the series. This time he hit .240 with 1 home run, 3 rbi and 4 runs scored. That season Del was honored with his first National league Gold Glove award for catchers.

In 1959 Del's hitting and defense help lead the Braves to a tie for the National League pennant with the Dodgers while hitting .257 with 19 doubles, 2 triples, 21 home runs, 65 runs scored and 72 rbi in the process. The Braves lost the pennant in a best of 3 NL championship series 2 games to none. Del once again collected the NL gold glove award for catching.

In 1960 Del won his third straight gold glove award while having his best year hitting. Hitting .294 he also collected 14 doubles, 1 triple, 19 home runs, a career high 81 runs scored and career high 77 rbi. His 158 hits were also a career high.

In 1961 Del spent most of the year injured getting into only 15 games hitting .200 with 3 doubles, 3 runs scored and 1 rbi.

Del returned in 1962 getting into 107 games. That year he won his 4th and last gold glove award while hitting a career high .297 and having 12 doubles, 3 triples, 8 home runs, 35 runs scored and 45 rbi.

1963 Del found himself no longer the starting catcher with the Braves. Youngster Joe Torre won the job as Del got into only 86 games. Hitting only .201 with 4 doubles, 3 home runs, 18 runs scored and 28 rbi it would be Crandall's last season with the Braves.

On December 3rd 1963 Del was part of a 6 man trade between the Braves and Giants. The Braves received Felipe Alou, Ed Bailey and Billy Hoeft while the Giants received Crandall, Bob Shaw and Bob Hendley. Del spent 1964 with the Giants, 1965 with the Pirates and 1966 with the Indians before retiring at the age of 36.

In 1972 Del returned to Milwaukee baseball this time as the manager of the Milwaukee Brewers where he spent 4 seasons never having a winning season. Fired after the 1975 season by the Brewers Del returned as a manager in 1982 with the Mariners midway through the season. He made it 135 games in 1983 before being fired. As a manager Del had 364 wins and 469 losses for a .437 winning percentage.

In 2003 Del was honored by the Braves by being inducted into the Braves hall of fame.

Del Crandall career Braves hitting stats:
Games: 1,394
Hits: 1,176
Doubles: 167
Triples: 17
Home runs: 170
RBI: 628
Runs: 552
Steals: 25
Average: .257

Del Crandall career hitting stats:
Games: 1,573
Hits: 1,276
Doubles: 179
Triples: 18
Home runs: 179
RBI: 657
Runs: 585
Steals: 26
Average: .254

NL Gold Glove for catcher


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