Baseball Players With One Spectacular Year
by Richard H. Letarte
Buy it from Amazon
Power was playing ball in Canada’s outlaw Provincial League and had attracted more than his share of attention, including some not necessarily desired. His surname, Pellot, conjured up certain sexual overtones in French-speaking Quebec. In order to ward off any trouble, Victor Pellot took a derivation of his mother’s maiden name (Pove) and became Vic Power. Yankee scout Tom Greenwade, who had the distinction of discovering Mickey Mantle, signed Power to a New York contract. Vic quickly made it up the Yankees’ minor league ladder, starting at Syracuse in 1951. There he hit .295 and rose to the Yanks’ Kansas City American Association affiliate the following year. He became an immediate fan favorite in KC, batting .336 in 1952 and leading that circuit with a .349 average in 1953. In October of that year, the Yankees purchased his and Elston Howard’s contracts, virtually assuring them both a trip to spring training.
During the 1953 season, the Yankee fans began to anticipate the promotion of Power to the parent club. After all, he was tearing apart the Triple A league and first base was not the talent-laden Yanks’ strongest position. Joe Collins showed his age at the sack and was playing fewer and fewer games. Power could hit, was a slick fielder, and had a ready-made following. However, the season ended with another world championship, the fifth straight for the Bronx Bombers, and still no representative of the Negro race in the house that Ruth built.
The early 1950s brought the best black ballplayers into the major leagues and the teams that pioneered integration helped their own cause immensely in the standings. Robinson became the spark plug behind the Dodgers and a good deal of the Giants’ success can be attributed to the contributions of Mays, Irvin, and Thompson. Cleveland’s Indians added Larry Doby and the ageless Satchel Paige, and these two players were key to their 1948 championship. The Boston Braves quickly followed, and though their early recruits such as Sam Jethroe did not become household names, later additions like Hank Aaron and Wes Covington helped produce championship teams in their subsequent home of Milwaukee.
2006 by Richard Letarte