Position: Pinch hitter, Leftfield
Birthplace: Mount Olive
First, Last Names: Morris Woodrow
Date of Birth: Sept. 13, 1915 Date and Place of Death: March 18, 1955, Sarasota, Fla.
Burial: Appomattox Cemetery, Hopewell, Va.
High School: Undetermined
College: Wake Forest College, Wake Forest, NC
Bats: L Throws: R Height and Weight: 6-1, 188
Debut Year: 1939 Final Year: 1945 Years Played: 5
Teams and Years: Washington Senators, 1939-41; Brooklyn Dodgers, 1944-45; Boston Braves, 1945
G AB H R RBI HR BA. OBP. SLG. WAR
106 262 70 36 32 3 .267 .317 .351 -0.2
Morrie Aderholt could hit a ball pretty good. Catching one, though, was another matter.
“He’s the world’s worst third baseman,” Brooklyn Dodgers’ President Branch Rickey bluntly told the press shortly after he brought Aderholt up from the minors in September 1944.[I]
A native of Mount Olive, North Carolina, Aderholt was a child when Clarence and Annie moved their growing family to Hopewell, Virginia. He would eventually have six brothers and sisters.
Aderholt played baseball and tennis at Wake Forrest College in North Carolina where he drew the attention of “Papa Joe” Cambria, the Washington Senators’ super scout, who signed Aderholt shortly after graduation in 1938. The youngster began his professional career the following year in Charlotte of the Piedmont League, batting .297 in 142 games. The Senators called him up late in the season.
The lanky lefthander made his big-league debut against the Chicago White Sox on his 24th birthday on Sept. 13. Aderholt celebrated by launching a mammoth home run over the scoreboard in right center in what was said to be the longest homer hit in Washington’s Griffith Stadium that year. He came down to earth the following day, however, committing three errors in a game against the St. Louis Browns.
Aderholt was up and down in the minors, making cameo appearances with the Senators during the 1940 and ‘41 seasons. During his brief trials with Washington, Aderholt committed an eye-opening nine errors in 11 games at second and third bases.
Moved to the outfield to minimize his defensive liabilities, Aderholt returned to the majors with the Dodgers in 1944. In 17 games, he batted a respectable .271, but continued to pile up the errors, committing four in 31 chances in the outfield for a horrendous fielding percentage of .871.
The following season, he got off to a slow start, batting .217 after 39 games, and was sold to the Boston Braves for the waiver price of $7,500. He was released at the conclusion of the season, ending his big-league career.
Aderholt went on to manage in the minor leagues for several clubs. His last stop was Scranton, Pennsylvania, where he guided the Miners of the Class A Eastern League. He suffered a heart attack in the spring of 1953 after running from a practice field in Florida to escape a sudden shower. Though he recovered, Aderholt announced he would retire at the at the end of the season.
It would have been tough, final year for a healthy man. The Miners lost 100 games that summer, finishing 51 games out of first place.
One doubleheader loss on the road was so galling that the skipper refused to ride on the team bus back to the motel. He hitched a ride with a Scranton newspaperman instead. “I can’t say anything nice to them,” Aderholt told the newsman, “so I guess I better not say anything at all. They feel bad enough as it is.”[II]
A bachelor during his playing career, Aderholt married Eloise Stancell of Richmond, Virginia, in 1954 and began scouting for the Senators. He was on a trip to Sarasota, Fla, to look at a prospect in 1955 when Aderholt’s heart failed him again. He died on March 18 at the age of 39.
“He didn’t leave his name in any record books and he’ll never be compared with the likes of Speaker, Wagner and Ruth,” the Scranton newsman wrote at the time. “But Morrie Aderholt was a gentleman, as nice a fellow as you hope to meet in baseball.”[III]
[I] Dodger Profiles. “Morrie Aderholt.” http://dodgerprofiles.blogspot.com.
[II] Butler, Joe M. “Sports Scope.” Times-Tribune (Scranton, PA), March 20, 1955.