Bill Starr

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William Starr
born Isadore Starr

BR page

Biographical Information[edit]

Catcher Bill Starr grew up a fan of the Chicago White Sox on the west side of Chicago, IL. He debuted in Organized Baseball as a 19-year-old, hitting .183 for the Danville Veterans and .261 for the Independence Producers in 1930. Moving up to the Lincoln Links in 1931, Starr batted .294 in limited time. In 1932, he was playing for the Norfolk Elks on a pennant-winning club and hit .294 again, with a career-best four home runs. In 1933, Bill was with the pennant-winning St. Joseph Saints, contributing a .270 mark and .355 slugging percentage. A year later, Starr hit .295 for the Rock Island Islanders. 1935 brought him to the Harrisburg Senators (.245), to the highest level of the minors with the Albany Senators (.185/~.214/.296 in only 11 games) and to the majors with the Washington Senators, going 5 for 24 in his longest assignment against big-league pitching. Chick was with the San Diego Padres for most of 1936 and appeared in one final MLB game with Washington.

In 1937, Starr hit .219 back with San Diego and pinch-hit for Ted Williams in one game (he flied out). In 1938, Bill hit .269 in just 10 games then hit .226 in 1939 before a broken leg ended his career at age 28.

In 1944, Starr was head of a group that purchased the Padres. As owner of San Diego, he brought the first African-American player into the Pacific Coast League, John Ritchey. He was part of an attempt to make the PCL a third major league, which failed. A strong advocate of scouting, Chick also once bought Tom Alston for $500 and then sold him to the St. Louis Cardinals for $150,000 and four players. In 1955, San Diego won the pennant. Starr sold the team to the Westgate California Tuna Packing Company for $250,000 in 1955.

After leaving baseball, Bill was a developer of condos, apartment buildings and shopping centers. In 1989, he authored Clearing the Bases, a critique of modern player development and one-handed catching. Married three times and a father of four, Starr died in 1991.

Sources: 1934 and 1939 Spalding Guides, Pat Doyle's professional baseball player database, The Big Book of Jewish Baseball by Peter Horvitz and Joachim Horvitz

Further Reading[edit]

  • Gary Sarnoff: "Bill Starr: The San Diego Padre Who Batted for Ted Williams and Integrated the PCL", in Cecilia M. Tan, ed.: Pacific Ghosts, The National Pastime, SABR, Phoenix, AZ, 2019, pp. 40-43.

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