George Steve Vico
- Bats Left, Throws Right
- Height 6' 4", Weight 200 lb.
- High School San Fernando High School
- Debut April 20, 1948
- Final Game October 1, 1949
- Born August 9, 1923 in San Fernando, CA USA
- Died January 13, 1994 in Redondo Beach, CA USA
Sam Vico was a first baseman for 13 years (1941-1957), two in the Majors (1948-1949) and eleven in the minors (1941-1942; 1946-1947; 1950-1955; 1957), losing two years to the Military and one year to inactivity. He was the son of Yugoslav immigrants and raised in the San Fernando Valley. He graduated from High School, where he starred in baseball, basketball and football, in 1941 at age 17.
Signed by scout Marty Krug of the Detroit Tigers as an amateur free agent in 1941 and broke into Organized Baseball that year at age 17 with the Fulton Tigers in the Kitty League and hit .322 and also played that year for the Muskegon Reds in the Michigan State League (1941) (.111 in limited time). He then moved on to the Winston-Salem Twins in the Piedmont League the next year and batted .230 with 4 home runs. He went in the Navy and was stationed at the San Diego Naval Training Center as a physical instructor and played on the baseball team. He was discharged in 1945 (TSN 8/10/44, 11/15/45, 4/14/48).
He returned to baseball with the 1946 Salem Senators in the Western International League, hitting .302/~.413/.482 and then moved up to the Portland Beavers of the Pacific Coast League (PCL), batting .286/~.358/.411. In 1947, his best year in the minors, he had 142 hits, 69 runs, 28 doubles, 7 triples, 9 home runs and 64 RBI and a .307 average in 131 games.
Vico was 24 years old when he broke into the big leagues on April 20, 1948, with the Tigers. He played for Detroit in 1948-1949. He became one of 19 players to hit a home run off the first MLB pitch they had seen, off Joe Haynes of the Chicago White Sox in his debut game; no Tigers player would match his feat until Akil Baddoo in 2021. On August 14th that year, Vico drove in seven runs to pace the Tigers to a 10–3 win over the St. Louis Browns. Vico was one better than a cycle, collecting two doubles, a triple and homer to back Virgil Trucks' sparkling one-hit relief effort over 6+ innings. That year, his best in the majors, he had 139 hits, 50 runs, 23 doubles, 9 triples, 8 home runs, 58 RBI and 2 stolen bases at .267/.326/.392 in 144 games.
He played his final MLB game on October 1, 1949 at age 26. Overall in MLB, he had 166 hits, 65 runs, 28 doubles, 11 triples, 12 home runs, 76 RBI and 2 stolen bases at .250/.323/.380 in 211 games. Overall in the minors, he had 94 home runs and 582 RBI.
He returned to the minors with the Toledo Mud Hens of the American Association (AA) in 1950, hitting just .228/~.343/.337 in 26 games then leaving for the home of has-beens, the 1950s Pacific Coast League. Back with Seattle, Vico hit .286/~.341/.454. The next year, he slipped to .247/~.338/.384 for the Rainiers. Still in Seattle in 1952, George continued to fall, now to .205/~.277/.339 in 75 games, frequently used off of the bench. He finished the 1952 campaign with the Indianapolis Indians and was at .277/~.348/.420 in 34 games there.
In 1953, Vico returned to the PCL, now with the San Francisco Seals (.261/~.334/.356) as their regular first baseman. In 1954, he played for three teams in the Coast League - San Francisco (.179/.292/.339 in 19 games), the Sacramento Solons (.200/.333/.500 in 20 AB over 15 contests) and the Hollywood Stars, his 5th PCL team (.271/.338/.400 in 23 games). He was with Hollywood all of 1955 and produced a .283/.349/.488 season in 66 games, outproducing regular 1B R.C. Stevens by 134 points of OPS. He finished his baseball career in 1957 with a .278 average.
He had black hair and brown eyes, his ancestry was Serbian and his principal hobby was photography. He died at age 70 on January 14, 1994 at Redondo Beach, CA and is buried at United Serbian Cemetery in East Los Angeles, CA.
- George Vico, who was a Seals first baseman in the mid-1950s, said "It was impossible to work up a sweat during a night game. You'd have a sweat shirt on, but you wouldn't start sweating until you were in the clubhouse ten minutes after the game," he told authors Dick Dobbins and Jon Twitchell in their book, Nuggets on the Diamond.
Principal sources for George Vico include newspaper obituaries (OB), government Veteran records (VA,CM,CW), Stars & Stripes (S&S), Sporting Life (SL), The Sporting News (TSN), The Sports Encyclopedia:Baseball 2006 by David Neft & Richard Cohen (N&C), old Who's Who in Baseballs (none) (WW), old Baseball Registers (none) (BR) , old Daguerreotypes by TSN (none) (DAG), Stars&Stripes (S&S), The Baseball Necrology by Bill Lee (BN), Pat Doyle's Professional Ballplayer DataBase (PD), The Baseball Library (BL), Baseball in World War II Europe by Gary Bedingfield (GB) ; The Pacific Coast League: A Statistical History, 1903-1957 by Dennis Snelling; the 1947, 1951 and 1953 Baseball Guides; Stephen Davis's 1953-1955 PCL seasons for Diamond Mind Baseball, The American Association: Year-By-Year Statistics for the Baseball Minor League, 1902-1952 by Marshall D. Wright; and independent research by Walter Kephart (WK) and Frank Russo (FR) and others.