Thanks to Paul Sommerstein for passing along the sad news that 1B Vic Power, whose big league career spanned 12 years with the A’s (Philly and K.C.), the Twins, Angels and Phillies, has died at the age of 78.
Power stole home twice in a 1958 game for the Indians ; he won the Gold Glove for his work at 1st on seven occasions. Though there are a couple of obituaries making the rounds, Sommerstein submits the following quotes from The Bill James Baseball Abstract :
Power was a spectacular defensive first baseman, an acrobat who would dive for ground balls half way to second base; he had the athletic ability we normally associate with a very good second baseman, but had applied it to playing first base. Power had the same problem as Siebern and McQuinn: he came along in the Yankee farm system at a time when the Yankees were not exactly desperate for help. He had two additional problems: one, that he would be a right-handed hitter in Yankee Stadium, and two, that he was a dark-skinned Latin player before the Yankees had broken the color line.
One odd thing about Power is that his power zone was right between his eyes; if you threw at his head (which a lot of people did) he was liable to line the knock down pitch into the left field bleachers.
He hit .300 several times in the majors (.288 or better six seasons as a regular), hit 14-19 homers a year, led the league in triples one year, won seven Gold Gloves at first base, and would have won two or three more before that, but they didn’t start giving the award until the middle of his career.
Power was an emotional player, great sense of humor, always laughing, joking, cutting up, playing practical jokes, but he was also a sensitive man with a hair-trigger temper. He would get “hurt angry” rather than “fighting angry,” not that he didn’t get into his share of fights, but sometimes he would take things the wrong way. Bigots just couldn’t stand him. In the vernacular of the 1950s, Power was one of “them” who “didn’t know his place.” He was a showboat, and he was an uppity n-word who dated white girls.
My favorite Vic Power story…Vic Power in a restaurant in Syracuse, 1951. An embarrassed waiter shuffles up to him and explains, “I’m sorry, sir, we don’t serve colored people.”
“That’s OK,” says Power. “I don’t eat colored people.”