The 6’3″ 210-lb, free-swinging Zernial trailed only Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, and Larry Doby in American League home runs in the 1950s. Despite tying what was then a White Sox record with 29 home runs in 1950, he was sent to the Athletics in a blockbuster, three-way deal that brought Minnie Minoso to Chicago on April 30, 1951. Zernial went on to lead the league with 33 HR, 129 RBI, and 17 outfield assists that year, while leading AL hitters in strikeouts a second straight time. In 1953, he stroked 42 HR, one less than league leader Al Rosen.
Zernial twice broke his collarbone chasing fly balls. Finishing with Detroit, he led the AL with 15 pinch hits in 1958. When Fred Haney broadcast Zernial’s games with the Pacific Coast League Hollywood Stars, he nicknamed the brawny, blond Texan Ozark Ike after the popular comic strip character.