Johnny Lindell

Johnny Lindell made the transition from a pitcher to an outfielder in the major leagues, then battled back to the majors again as a pitcher near the end of his career. After signing with the Yankees while at the University of Southern California, he posted outstanding minor league pitching marks, including 23-4 at Newark in 1941. He was called up to the majors at the end of that season and spent ’42 on the Yankee staff. He threw a knuckleball and curve, but Yankee manager Joe McCarthy did not believe he had a major league fastball and switched him to the outfield in 1943. In his best season, 1944, he hit .300 with 18 home runs and 103 RBI. After WWII ended, he was used mostly as a reserve. All told, he played on three pennant winners (1943, ’47, ’49).

Sold to the Cardinals in May 1950, he managed only a .186 batting average. At the end of the season, he was sold again, this time to Hollywood of the PCL, where manager Fred Haney put him back on the pitching mound. In 1952 he posted a 24-9 pitching record, batted fourth, and occasionally played the outfield. He was easily the league MVP. At age thirty-six he returned to the majors, pitching for the Pirates and Phillies in 1953 for a combined 6-17 mark. He had trouble putting his knuckleball over (his 139 bases on balls led the league) and hitters sat on his fastball.