George Altman

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George Lee Altman
(Big George)

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Biographical Information[edit]

George Altman, who was briefly in the Negro Leagues with the Kansas City Monarchs in 1955, had a successful major league career and a good Japanese baseball career.

Altman was signed by the Chicago Cubs in 1956. He missed the 1957 season and part of 1958 due to military service, and made it to the Cubs major league team in 1959, which was also Hall of Famer Billy Williams' first year in the big leagues. He had previously hit .325 for Pueblo in 1958 upon his return to baseball. Altman spent four years with the Cubs. In the first year, he hit .245 with 12 home runs. The second year, 1960, in somewhat fewer games, he improved, hitting .260 with 13 home runs and a .455 slugging average. The next two years were his peak seasons, hitting .303/.353/.560 in 1961 with 27 home runs and 12 triples (leading the league in triples), and .318/.393/.511 in 1962 with 22 home runs and 19 stolen bases. An outfielder, his range declined a bit in 1962. He was an All-Star in both 1961 and 1962.

Traded from one hitter's park to another after the season in 1962, he hit .274 with 9 home runs for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1963. Traded again after the 1963 season, he hit .230 with 9 home runs for the New York Mets in 1964. Traded yet again in early 1965, he was back with the Cubs for his last three seasons as a role player. He hit under .240 each year.

He moved on to Japan in 1968, playing as a very popular player for the Tokyo Orions and Lotte Orions through 1974 and for the Hanshin Tigers in 1975. Altogether, he had 205 home runs there. The Vanderbilt University Television News Archive contains an ABC News show wherein Altman describes adjusting to Japan and to Japanese baseball.

The most similar player, based on similarity scores, is Rip Repulski, a near contemporary of Altman who also played most of his years in the National League.

Altman and Fred Valentine were the first players to attend Tennessee State University to reach the major leagues. They were both signed in 1956 and both came up in 1959. The two were teammates at Tennessee State in 1954 and 1955, and Altman came up early in 1959 while Fred came up late in the season. Altman played his entire major league career in the National League while Valentine played his entire career in the American League. Both eventually played in Japan.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 2-time NL All-Star (1961 & 1962)
  • NL Triples Leader (1961)
  • 20-Home Run Seasons: 2 (1961 & 1962)

Further Reading[edit]

  • George Altman and Lew Freedman: My Baseball Journey from the Negro Leagues to the Majors and Beyond, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2013. ISBN 978-0-7864-7103-4
  • Anthony Castrovince: "George Altman's remarkable globe-spanning career",, February 21, 2022. [1]

Related Sites[edit]