Friday, June 8, 2012

Unpossible Autograph Friday- Gene Woodling, Oriole #41

Gene Woodling played seventeen very successful seasons in the Major Leagues between 1943-62, missing the 1944 & '45 seasons due to military service during World War II. He played for the Indians, Pirates, Yankees, Orioles, Senators, and Mets during his career, and was a member of five consecutive Yankees' World Series winners between 1949-53. He was also a coach for the '66 Orioles World Series winning team, so he was part of six championship squads during his time in baseball, which is quite an accomplishment.

He had two stints in Baltimore during the mid to later parts of his career, first in 1955, then again from 1958-60. He arrived in Baltimore as a part of the massive Orioles-Yankees 17 player swap prior to the '55 season and he made his Orioles debut on April 11, 1955 which was Opening Day that year. He was a fixture in the O's outfield for the duration of his time in Baltimore, and played in 460 games for the Birds over his three and a half seasons in town. He was an All-Star for the O's in 1959, the only time he was a member of the mid-summer classic during his career.

After Gene retired from playing the game, he became the O's first base coach between 1964-67 and also served as the hitting coach in 1967. He went on to work as a scout in the Yankees and Indians systems and is known for signing Thurman Munson. He is also credited with helping to set up the MLB pension fund.

Gene passed away on June 2, 2001 at 78 years of age. RIP Gene.

His autograph was one of the first that I purchased when I began to get back into collecting Orioles autographs some time in 2006 or 2007. He appears to have been a very good signer as his autograph is still rather easy to find, even over a decade after he passed away, which is not the case for many players.

To briefly explain the misspelled/made up title of these weekly posts: Every Friday, I profile a former Oriole who has passed away. I've substituted the word unpossible for impossible as an homage to a line from "The Simpsons". Young Ralph Wiggum, who is not very smart, says "Me fail English? That's unpossible." 

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