The Clown Prince of Baseball
Wherever Bill Veeck ran a major league team (Indians, Browns, White Sox), Max Patkin
was a baseline coach and a comic attraction. The gangly, double-jointed Patkin barnstormed
the minor league circuit with his pantomime, contortionist act. When Al Schacht retired,
Patkin took over the billing and role of The Clown Prince of Baseball. Proud of being
a bona fide baseball man, capable of doing an actual coaching job, Patkin was a one-time
minor league pitcher.
|FROM THE BASEBALL CHRONOLOGY|
|» August 24, 1951: In another of Bill Veeck's legendary PR stunts, "Fans Managers' Night," the Browns defeat the Athletics 5–3. The Browns coaches hold up placards for 1115 fans, who vote "yes" or "no" on the options given them. Manager Zack Taylor sits in a box behind the dugout with two fans who monitor the voting. Adding to the festivities is Max Patkin, the clown prince of baseball, who coaches at 1B for several innings. Sherm Lollar voted in behind the plate instead of Matt Batts, has three hits including a homer, and Hank Arft, also voted in, knocks home two. Gus Zernial's 28th home run, off Garver, accounts for all the A's runs. When the stunt was announced on August 15th, A's GM Art Ehlers bitterly denounced it as "farcical."
» September 30, 1951:
Preceding the Browns' season closer, the Harlem Globetrotters defeat a team led by baseball clown Max Patkin. The basketball game is played on a wooden court set up behind 3B. Then St. Louis ace Ned Garver cops his 20th game of the season, defeating the White Sox, 9–5. Garver becomes the only player to win 20 for a last-place team that loses 100 games, as the Browns win just 32 other times.