Posts Tagged ‘Don Gutteridge’

Buff Biographies: Don Gutteridge

July 21, 2013

Buff Logo 12

Don Gutteridge

Don Gutteridge

The 1934 Houston Buffs weren’t the greatest baseball herd in this city’s history, by far. ┬áManaged by famous former Buff Carey Selph, the boys could finish no better than 6th place, near .500 at 76-78, .494, but 13 games back of Galveston, the first place club and playoff winner of the 1934 Texas League pennant.

The ’34 club also fought uphill all season against the challenges of the Great Depression, bringing in a final tally of only 61,180 paying fans to all their home games in Houston that season.

It was within this mire that quiet-spoken, but feisty spirited Don Gutteridge played out his only Buff season as a 22-year old 3rd baseman for the Houston Buffs, batting .272 with 167 hits in 149 games at the hot corner, including 20 doubles, 8 triples, and 7 home runs. The kid never gave up on things and his hustle and effort just broadcast the idea that he intended to get everything out of his ability that he could find and put into play. And that’s how I got to know about him first hand from the general drift of comments from his surviving St. Louis Browns and Cardinals teammates who spoke with me about Don at annual banquets for the old St. Louis Browns in the 1990s.

Everybody loved Donald Joseph Gutteridge of Pittsburg (without an “h”), Kansas. The 5’10” 165 lb. infielder was born in Pittsburg, Kansas on June 19, 1912. Don Gutteridge (BR/TR) played ball at Pittsburg State University prior to signing with the Cardinals and turning pro in 1932 at the age of 20. Over the course of all 10 of his minor league seasons (1932-36, 1941, 1946-50), Gutteridge batted .294 with an OBP of .311. After Houston and two moe quick stops at Columbus, Ohio, Don broke in with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1936. He would play five seasons for the Cards (1936-40), four seasons for the St. Louis Browns (1942-45), two seasons with the Boston Red Sox (1946-47), and one doughnut coffee dip spell with the 1948 Pittsburgh (with an “h”) Pirates for a twelve MLB season record of a .256 BA with 200 doubles, 64 triples, and 39 HR. before finishing his active play in two more seasons as a minor leaguer.

Jerry Witte (L) hit .312 with 46 HR and 120 RBI under manager Don Gutteridge at Toledo in 1946.

Jerry Witte (L) hit .312 with 46 HR and 120 RBI under manager Don Gutteridge at Toledo in 1946

Don Gutteridge also spent six seasons as a minor league manager (1946, 1951-54, 1967) and two partial years as an MLB manager for the Chicago White Sox (1969-70). The guy looked the part too in his later years. He looked a lot like the movie manager in the film version of “Damn Yankees”, but with a much milder social personality. Whenever he walked into a group of us visiting in the hotel lobby at one of those Browns functions, I kept waiting for him to break into that famous pep talk from that famous baseball movie: “Now listen to me! – This game of baseball is only one-half skill! – The other half is something bigger! – You gotta have – HEART! – MILES AND MILES AND MILES OF HEART! …”

He never did, but he could have. These were the old St. Louis Browns I was sitting among. They knew as much about losing as the old Washington Senators ever did – and even more, if you care to check their comparative records from the old days.

Don Gutteridge & Pepper Martin

Don Gutteridge & Pepper Martin

Don Gutteridge did hold an unusual history with the Cardinals after breaking into the majors with the St. Louis NL club. After he left them, he played for both of his next two clubs in the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals. He played for the St. Louis Browns against the Cardinal in 1944; and he played for the Boston Red Sox against the Cardinals in 1946. Unfortunately for Don Gutteridge, he was on the losing team both times.

A few years ago, Don Gutteridge wrote and published his autobiography with friends and colleagues Ronnie Joyner and Bill Bozman. The book is a beautiful little baseball life story. Copies may still be available over Amazon for those who may be interested.

Don Gutteridge passed away at his home in Pittsburg, Kansas on September 7, 2008, not too long after the death of his sweet wife of a thousand years. He was 96 years old when he died.