Roy Sievers, the first American League Rookie of the Year winner, has died at age 90.
The Rookie of the Year Award was established in 1947 as an all-MLB award. That year Jackie Robinson won it, of course, and in 1948 it was Alvin Dark of the Braves. In 1949 it was changed so there would be one winner in each league. That year Sievers debuted with the St. Louis Browns, hitting .306/.398/.471 with 16 homers and 91 RBI. He took home the hardware for the junior circuit while Don Newcombe won it in the National League.
Sievers went on to play 17 years in the bigs, but his career had a bit of a rocky start following his rookie year thanks to some nagging shoulder injuries. In 1954, as the Browns became the Baltimore Orioles, Sievers was traded to the Washington Senators. He regained his status as one of the game’s better hitters in DC, posting an .859 OPS (134 OPS+) and hitting 180 homers and making the All-Star team three times over the next six seasons. After Washington he made stops with the White Sox and Phillies before returning to the Senators — the expansion Senators, anyway, as his old Washington franchise had moved to Minnesota to become the Twins — for his final two years, retiring after the 1965 season.
Sievers may be one of the lesser-known stars of the so-called Golden Era these days, but that has less to do with his accomplishments than it does with the fact that the two teams for which he starred — the Browns and Senators — ceased to exist, changing cities and franchise identities decades ago. The current love for Montreal Expos history is an anomaly. Most of the time when a team leaves town, people tend to move on and forget. That’s probably especially true with the Browns and Senators, neither of whom had much success.
Sievers’ career was a pretty spiffy one, however. In all he hit 318 homers, drove in 1,147 runs and posted a batting line of .267/.354/.475. He was primarily a corner outfielder and first baseman, though he did play 160 games in center and 30 at third base. After adjusting for his parks and his era, he was roughly equivalent to a Bobby Bonilla or a Victor Martinez, offensively speaking. Oh, and he was Tab Hunter’s double in the 1958 movie version of “Damn Yankees.” That’s pretty spiffy too.
Rest in Peace, Rookie of the Year.