Friday, May 27, 2011

#37 Gus Suhr

Gus Suhr was born in San Francisco in 1906, and shortly afterwards moved to Millbrae, California, where he would call home for 65 years. He was signed by the San Francisco Seals of the PCL in 1925, and quickly became one of the league top hitters. Originally a second baseman, Suhr lead the PCL with 64 doubles in 1926. In 1929, he batted .381 with 51 home runs and 177 RBI (the PCL played more games than their Major League counterparts). On the strength of this season, Suhr, now a first baseman, was sold to the Pittsburgh Pirates.
After an outstanding rookie season in 1930, Suhr slumped in '31 and was benched. He returned to in 1932 and stayed there, embarking on a consecutive-games played streak that would reach a then-record in the NL of 822 games before his mother's death forced him to miss a game. Over this stretch, Suhr was a solid first baseman both at the plate and in the field. Possessing decent power and a good eye, Suhr's best season was 1936, when he bated .312 along with 118 RBI and 112 runs scored, being named to the National League's All-Star team. He batted .294 for Pittsburgh in 1938, and halfway through a 1939 season that saw him hit .304, Suhr was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies for pitcher Max Butcher. After a poor start and limited action in 1940, Suhr called it quits and returned to California. During World War 2, he joined up again with the Seals in the PCL, playing three more years. His major league totals include a .279 lifetime batting average and 1446 hits. He, at the time of this blogging, still holds the Pirate record for most games at first base.
After his playing days ended, Suhr operated a liquor store in Millbrae. He moved to Scottsdale, Arizona, in 1990, and was a frequent attendee to spring training games there. In 2002, he appeared at a Piitsburgh Pirate game at PNC Park where the Pirates honored the surviving Pirates who were All-Stars. Suhr happily spent the day enjoying the game and signing autographs. Suhr died in 2004 just a few weeks past his 98th birthday.
The Autograph: Nothing rare about this one at all. 98 years is a long life, and he was in good health and always signed. I do like how Suhr crossed out the incorrect sentence on the back of the card.

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