Friday, July 6, 2012

Unpossible Autograph Friday- Billy Cox, Oriole #39

Billy Cox played in the Major Leagues for 11 seasons between 1941-55; he made his MLB debut with the Pirates in 1941 before spending four years in the Army during World War II. He came back from the war a changed man, and seems to have suffered from what we would likely now call post traumatic stress disorder.  It didn't seem to effect his performance on the field, as he received MVP votes for his effort during the 1946 season, but rather the perception of him throughout the game. He was unfairly labeled as "indifferent" due to his issues readjusting to civilian life following the war.

He played for the Pirates for two more seasons after his return from WWII, and then spent seven seasons as a member of the Brooklyn Dodgers. During his time as one of the Boys of Summer he was regarded as one of the best fielding third baseman in the game and was a key member of the pennant winning Dodgers teams in 1949, '52, & '53, again earning some MVP votes for his 1952 season.

The Dodgers traded him to the Orioles prior to the 1955 season and he made his Orioles debut on April 11, 1955 which was Opening Day that year. He played in 53 games for the Orioles before they attempted to trade him to the Cleveland Indians in mid-June. Billy refused to report to the Indians, so effectively forced himself into retirement.

Billy was from Pennsylvania, and actually was born and raised in the same rural county as my mom, which is an interesting connection as you have to believe me when I say that probably no more than 45,000 people live in this county today, let alone in 1919 when he was born. Now Billy was more in my grandma's age bracket, but it's still funny to hear about a former Oriole from Perry County, PA. The youth baseball field in his hometown of Newport is named in his honor.

Billy died in 1978 when he was just 58 years old. RIP Mr. Cox.

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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