Hemsley drank himself
off four clubs before whipping alcoholism with the help of
Alcoholics Anonymous. Early on, his speed was above average for a catcher. Platooned
in Pittsburgh, he was traded to the Cubs in 1931 to back up Gabby Hartnett, and then
to the Reds in 1933. Waived to the Browns in 19933, he became a top AL receiver,
hitting .309 in 1934. Despite a .222 batting average in 1937, Cleveland traded three
players to get him, and he handled the bulk of the Indians' catching chores in 1939
after an injury to Frank Pytlak. He caught Bob Feller's 1940 Opening Day no-hitter,
and drove in the game's only run with a triple. He became a backup after his December
1941 sale to the Reds. Hemsley was TSN Minor League Manager of the Year in 1950 and
»June 20, 1934:
The Browns rout the A's, 11–3, behind five RBIs by Rollie Hemsley. Hemsley is knocked out in a collision in the 4th inning, but stays in to triple with the sacks full in the 7th. Bob Johnson, leading the majors in homers, hits his 20th in the 9th inning.
»June 30, 1934:
In a 4–3, 10-inning loss to the Browns, Tiger CF Gee Walker is picked off base twice on the same playing, earning him a 10 day suspension for his ineptitude. After Hank Greenberg singles, Walker reaches base on a error, but then gets caught off base when C Rollie Hemsley fires to 1B. Greenberg attempts to draw a throw by running to 3B and is thrown out, with Walker taking 2B. Moments later, with Walker standing six feet off the bag "as brave as a boy on a burning deck" (writer Charles P. Ward's description), pitcher Jack Knott's throw to SS Alan Strange nabs him. Cochrane is so furious he suspends Walker and fines him $20—the 6th time this season that has earned a $20 fine. Gee's next appearance won't come until July 16 when he pinchhits for Cochrane.
»July 2, 1937:
Rollie Hemsley is suspended by the Browns for violation of training rules.
»December 17, 1942: The Yankees trade OF Roy Cullenbine and C Buddy Rosar to the Indians for Roy Weatherly and IF Oscar Grimes. With the draft in mind, all four players are married with one child each. As noted by historian Lyle Spatz, Rosar had been in the doghouse with Joe McCarthy for leaving the team without permission the weekend of July 18-19 to take a police examination in Buffalo. The leave-taking prompted the Yankees to sign vet C Rollie Hemsley.