Brooks Holder

Richard Brooks Holder (November 2, 1914 – June 7, 1986) was an American professional baseball player whose career spanned 17 seasons, all of which were spent in the minor leagues. Holder joined the Pacific Coast League (PCL) in 1935 after a short stint that season in the Western League. Over his tenure in the PCL, he played for the San Francisco Seals (1935–1942, 1949–1950), the Hollywood Stars (1943–45), the Oakland Oaks (1946–48), and the Portland Beavers (1951). His career minor-league batting average stands at .295 with 2,540 hits, 417 doubles, 117 triples, and 98 home runs in 2,492 games played. Despite being left-handed, Holder was used as a second baseman early in his career, a position that is usually reserved for right-handed players. After the 1937 season, he appeared exclusively as an outfielder. During his playing career, Holder stood at 5 feet 10 inches (178 cm) and weighed 180 lb (82 kg).

Brooks Holder
Second baseman, outfielder
Born: (1914-11-02)November 2, 1914
Rising Star, Texas
Died: June 7, 1986(1986-06-07) (aged 71)
Pinole, California
Batted: Left
Threw: Left
Professional debut
WL: 1935, for the Des Moines Demons
PCL: 1935, for the San Francisco Seals
Last appearance
WL: 1935, for the Des Moines Demons
PCL: 1951, for the Portland Beavers
Minor League Baseball statistics
Batting average.295
Hits2,540
Home runs98
Teams
Member of the Pacific Coast League
Baseball Hall of Fame
Induction2004

Sports journalist David Halberstam noted that Holder was a "great hitter with good speed", but had difficulty on defense, primarily with catching the ball. In 2004, the PCL enshrined Holder in the Pacific Coast League Hall of Fame. He was one of 12 players that year to be inducted.

Early and personal life

Holder was born on November 2, 1914, in Rising Star, Texas, to John C. and Nora E. Holder, who were of Scotch-Irish descent.[1][2] In 1920, the Holder family was living in Liberty, Arizona.[3] By age 15, Brooks Holder was living in Contra Costa County, California, with his parents and sibling, Volene L. Holder.[2] Brooks Holder attended high school in Crockett, California, where he played baseball, basketball, and football.[1] In all three of those sports, he was a league all-star.[1]

During the off-seasons of his playing career, Holder found employment as a factory worker in a sugar refinery.[1][4] In 1951, a February edition of Baseball Digest indicated that Holder worked in a meat packing plant in the San Francisco area.[5]

For recreation, Holder enjoyed outdoor activities, which included hunting and fishing.[1] In October 1938, Holder married Arlene Smith of Crockett, California.[6] By 1943, his wife and he had three children.[7] In 1946, Holder's father died in an automobile accident.[8] Holder and his family resided in San Francisco during the off-seasons.[9]

Professional career

In 1935, Holder began his professional baseball career. He played with the Class A Des Moines Demons of the Western League for the first part of the season, batting .304 with 105 hits, 14 doubles, 13 triples, and one home run in 88 games played with Des Moines. Defensively, Holder, who played exclusively at second base for the Demons that year, compiled a .949 fielding percentage. Holder managed to place third overall on the league's triples leaderboard, finishing just behind Charles Clements (15) Auggie Luther (14).[10]

During the 1935 season, Holder joined the AAA San Francisco Seals of the PCL. The Seals brought him in to replace their regular second baseman, Art Garibaldi, who was sold to the St. Louis Cardinals.[11] Holder played the remainder of the season with San Francisco, batting .250 with 12 hits in 48 at-bats. Holder's fielding percentage increased after joining the Seals, going from .946 to a combined .948 between the two clubs. Overall as a member of the Seals, his fielding percentage was .958. Holder spent his first full season with the San Francisco Seals in 1936. In 152 games played, he compiled a .289 batting average with 27 doubles, 11 triples, and one home run. In the field, Holder played at second base, putting up a .953 fielding percentage.

In 1937, Holder cracked the Seals' Opening Day batting order.[12] In May, he was converted to an outfielder after injuries to Seals players Ted Norbert and Johnny Gill.[13] Holder finished the season with a .319 average with 155 hits, 27 doubles, eight triples, and two home runs in 135 games played. His fielding percentage that season was .968. In July 1938, the Associated Press noted that Holder might be signing with a Major League Baseball (MLB) team that season,[14] although nothing ever came of it. On the season, Holder batted .330 with 193 hits, 26 doubles, eight triples, and two home runs in 172 games played. Among PCL batters that year, he finished seventh in batting average.[15] On defense, he compiled a .980 fielding percentage.

Before the start of the 1939 season, Holder resigned with the Seals.[16] That year, he batted .314 with 200 hits, 34 doubles, 24 triples, and five home runs in 173 games played. He led all league batters that season in triples.[17] Holder's triples mark tied the all-time PCL record, which had been set by Truck Eagan in 1903.[18] His fielding percentage that year was .969. After the season, Holder was pegged by the Seals to be drafted or purchased by an MLB team, but was passed-up by scouts.[19] In February 1940, he resigned with San Francisco.[20] On the year, Holder batted .274 with 143 hits, 19 doubles, seven triples, and one home run in 152 games played. Defensively, he had a .962 fielding percentage.

Holder in 1947, as a member of the Oakland Oaks

During the 1941 season, Holder played 170 games with the Seals, batting .280 with 119 runs, 175 hits, 30 doubles, 10 triples, two home runs, 53 runs batted in (RBIs), and 11 stolen bases. In the outfield, he compiled a .982 fielding percentage. In 1942, Holder continued his tenure in San Francisco, batting .298 with 113 runs scored, 194 hits, 36 doubles, 9 triples, six home runs, and 51 RBIs in 179 games played. Defensively, he put up a .979 fielding percentage.

Before the start of the 1943 season, the Seals were in talks with the Boston Braves, an MLB franchise, about selling Holder to them.[7] However, nothing ever came of it; instead, the Seals traded Holder to the Hollywood Stars in exchange for Frenchy Uhalt and Del Young.[21] In May 1943, Holder sustained a knee injury, which caused him to miss some playing time.[22] During his first season with the Stars, Holder batted .273 with 83 runs scored, 148 hits, 27 doubles, five triples, six home runs, 62 RBIs, and 11 stolen bases. Defensively, he compiled a .975 fielding percentage.

In March 1944, Holder resigned with the Stars.[9] On the season, he batted .280 with 119 runs scored, 163 hits, 28 doubles, eight triples, six home runs, 54 RBIs, and 21 stolen bases in 161 games played. Holder placed second in league in runs scored, behind Cecil Garriott, who had 148.[23] In the outfield, Holder compiled a .983 fielding percentage. Before the start of the 1945 season, Holder was dubbed a "holdout" because he initially did not resign with the Stars.[24] The Los Angeles Times described him as "suborn" during the re-signing process.[25] However, he eventually came to terms with the Stars, and rejoined the club during spring training.[25] In April of that season, Holder suffered a pulled muscle during a game, which caused him to miss some playing time.[26] In July, he suffered another injury, this time to his elbow.[27] In 109 games played that year, he batted .256 with 54 runs scored, 80 hits, 16 doubles, two triples, five home runs, 41 RBIs, and 13 stolen bases. He also compiled a .985 fielding percentage.

Just before the start of spring training in 1946, the Hollywood Stars released Holder.[28] He then joined the Oakland Oaks of the PCL. On June 13, just hours after attending the funeral for his father, Holder suited up for the Oaks and hit a home run and a double.[8] In his first year with Oakland, Holder batted .283 with 88 runs scored, 135 hits, 15 doubles, three triples, 13 home runs, 59 RBIs, and 14 stolen bases in 155 games played. Defensively, he had a .974 fielding percentage.

The Los Angeles Times described Holder's 1947 campaign as "the best ball of his career", adding, "which is saying something".[29] With the Oaks that season, he batted .311 with 137 runs scored, 186 hits, 40 doubles, four triples, 16 home runs, and 78 RBIs in 172 games played. Holder was second in the league in runs scored, behind Tony Lupien, who had 147.[30] Holder's last season with Oakland came in 1948. That year, he batted .297 with 99 runs scored, 143 hits, 15 doubles, three triples, 10 home runs, 57 RBIs, and 11 stolen bases. He compiled a .979 fielding percentage defensively.

Legacy and playing style

Holder finished with a career batting average of .292 with 2,540 hits, 417 doubles, 117 triples, and 91 home runs in 2,492 games played. In 2004, he was inducted into the Pacific Coast League Hall of Fame in an inductee class that featured 11 other players, including Vean Gregg, Frank Kelleher, and Fay Thomas.[31] Sports journalist David Halberstam wrote in his book The Teammates: A Portrait of Friendship, that Holder was a "good hitter with great speed".[32] Halberstam also noted that holder had a difficult time catching the ball in the outfield.[32]

References

  1. "Brooks Holder". Oakland Oaks Media Guide. 1947.
  2. "1930 United States Census". U.S. Census Bureau. U.S. Federal Government. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |url= (help)
  3. "1920 United States Census". U.S. Census Bureau. U.S. Federal Government. {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |url= (help)
  4. "Here's where Scarsella gets his power". Berkeley Daily Gazette. Berkeley Daily Gazette. July 20, 1946. Retrieved December 15, 2010.
  5. Richman, Milton (February 1951). "Stars Score In Winter Role". Baseball Digest. Lakeside Publishing Co. 10 (2): 96. Retrieved December 16, 2010.
  6. Connolly, Will (November 1, 1938). "Crippled Bears Ready for Trojans". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 14, 2010.
  7. "Braves Offered". International News Service. Toledo Blade. February 9, 1943. Retrieved December 15, 2010.
  8. "Grief-Stricken Holder Star of Oakland's Win Over Sacramento". International News Service. San Jose Evening News. June 14, 1946. Retrieved December 15, 2010.
  9. Wolf, Al (March 17, 1944). "Holder to Join Hollywood Stars". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 15, 2010.
  10. "1935 Western League Batting Leaders". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved December 13, 2010.
  11. "Brooks Holder to replace Garibaldi". United Press International. San Jose News. Retrieved December 20, 2010.
  12. Jacobs, Martin (2005). San Francisco Seals. Arcadia Publishing. p. 128. ISBN 0-7385-2985-0. Brooks Holder.
  13. "Coast League Results". Berkeley Daily Gazette. Berkeley Daily Gazette. May 14, 1937. Retrieved December 14, 2010.
  14. "Pacific Coast Loop Develops Several Starts". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Associated Press. July 7, 1938. Retrieved December 14, 2010.
  15. "1938 Pacific Coast League Batting Leaders". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved December 14, 2010.
  16. "Mulligan Scouts Rookies". The Deseret News. Associated Press. February 14, 1939. Retrieved December 14, 2010.
  17. "1939 Pacific Coast League Batting Leaders". Baseball-Reference.com.
  18. Snelling, Dennis (1995). The Pacific Coast League: A Statistical History, 1903-1957. McFarland. p. 392. ISBN 0-7864-0045-5.
  19. "Scouts Passed Up Coast Leaguer Who Set Record". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Associated Press. February 5, 1940. Retrieved December 14, 2010.
  20. "McCormick Favorite at Palm Springs". Los Angeles Times. February 1, 1940. Retrieved December 14, 2010.
  21. Wolf, Al (March 26, 1943). "Stars get Holder for Uhalt, Young". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 15, 2010.
  22. Wold, Al (May 11, 1943). "Angels Warm Topic in Baseball Fanfests Now". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 15, 2010.
  23. "1944 Pacific Coast League Batting Leaders". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved December 15, 2010.
  24. "Holdouts sign". Berkeley Daily Gazette. Berkeley Daily Gazette. March 27, 1945. Retrieved December 15, 2010.
  25. "Brooks Holder Ends Holdout, Joins Twinks". Los Angeles Times. March 23, 1945. Retrieved December 15, 2010.
  26. "Holder Injures Side; Out for a Few Days". Los Angeles Times. April 12, 1945. Retrieved December 15, 2010.
  27. Wolf, Al (July 25, 1945). "Stars Snap Losing Streak; Clip Angels". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 15, 2010.
  28. "Stars Release Brooks Holder". Los Angeles Times. February 13, 1946. Retrieved December 15, 2010.
  29. Wolf, Al (June 2, 1947). "Sportraits". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 15, 2010.
  30. "1947 Pacific Coast League Batting Leaders". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved December 15, 2010.
  31. "PCL Enshrines Hall of Fame Class of 2004". MiLB.com. Minor League Baseball. Retrieved December 15, 2010.
  32. Halberstam, David (2004). The Teammates: A Portrait of Friendship. Hyperion. p. 224. ISBN 0-7868-8867-9.

Further reading

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