Specs Toporcer

Branch Rickey once told this story about Specs Toporcer: “A 19-year-old boy who weighed 142 pounds and never had played a game of pro ball came off the field at Orange, New Jersey. I watched this kid and saw him take off his glasses and, with his hands outstretched, grope his way along the wall to the showers. My captain turned to me and said, `For God’s sake, who sent him up?’ ” Toporcer, who never played baseball in high school, college, or the minors, is remembered as the first infielder to wear glasses in the majors. Primarily a Cardinal utility man, in 1922 he played in a career-high 116 games and batted .324. After leaving the majors, he was the International League‘s MVP with Rochester in 1929 and 1930.

In 1944 Torporcer wrote a book, Baseball, from Backyards to the Big Leagues, still considered one of the best manuals of instruction for coaches and youngsters. Despite five operations, he lost his eyesight while managing Buffalo (International League) in 1951. He also served as farm director for the Red Sox. His life story was featured in a network TV show in which he played the lead.