His batting average in 1961 was 302 with 46 home runs and 141 RBI’s. Can you guess his name? It’s not Willie Mayes, Frank Robinson, or Carl Yastrzemiski who won the Triple Crown in 1967 with lower numbers. So who was this player?
You would think baseball fans would have his name on the tip of their tongue, right? It wasn’t Ernie Banks, Brooks Robinson, the great Roberto Clemente, or any Hall of Famer you could name. So who was he? Jim Gentile.
Who? Exactly. He was signed by the Dodgers as a first baseman and languished in the minors, stuck behind Norm Locker and Gil Hodges. Hall of Fame catcher Roy Campanello, called Jim “Diamond,” saying he was a diamond in the rough.
The Dodgers traded Jim to Baltimore in ’61. At mid-season, he hit two grand slam home runs in one game. But it was 1961, the year Maris and Mantle were in a home run race to beat Babe Ruth’s record. Maris did and was voted Most Valuable Player. Second was Mantle and third in the balloting was Jim Gentile. Any other year, Jim would have been remembered, but not in 1961.
How many wonderful people do wonderful works for God and are overshadowed by others? Just remember, God knows and He says our works do follow us into Judgment. On that day, all will be made known. Who? Yes, you.
The writer is minister at Myrtle Beach Church of Christ.