Joe Cunningham

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Joseph Robert Cunningham Jr.
(Smokey Joe)

BR page

Biographical Information[edit]

Joe Cunningham played thirteen seasons in the majors but was stuck behind Hall of Famer Stan Musial during much of his career.

Originally a first baseman, Cunningham's big league career started with a bang. He homered once off Art Fowler of the Cincinnati Redlegs in his big league debut on June 30, 1954, and then hit two off Warren Spahn of the Milwaukee Braves the next day, July 1st, to set the record for most home runs in a player's first two major league games (3). He also set a record with 9 RBIs in those two games, which held until broken by Francisco Arcia in 2018. However, the following year, 1955, Musial was moved to first base, and Cunningham played most of the next two seasons in the minors.

Cunningham returned to the Cardinals in 1957, splitting time between first base and the outfield and hitting .318. After hitting .312 in part-time play in 1958, he became the team's regular rightfielder in 1959, hitting .345 (second in the National League to Hank Aaron) and making the All-Star Team.

Following the 1961 season, Cunningham was traded to the Chicago White Sox for Minnie Minoso. He was the team's regular first baseman in his first year there, hitting .295. However, his 1963 campaign was cut short when he broke his collarbone colliding with Charlie Dees of the Los Angeles Angels on June 3rd. The following season, he was traded to the Washington Senators for Bill Skowron, and he ended his playing career after about two years in the nation's capital.

After retiring, Cunningham managed in the minors for the St. Louis Cardinals in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He then worked in the front office in sales. Cunningham later went on to serve on the team's major league coaching staff in 1982.

Cunningham's son Joe Cunningham was the hitting coach of the Springfield (MO) Cardinals in 2006.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • NL All-Star (1959)
  • NL On-Base Percentage Leader (1959)

Year-by-Year Managerial Record[edit]

Year Team League Record Finish Organization Playoffs
1968 Modesto Reds California League 69-71 4th St. Louis Cardinals
1969 Modesto Reds California League 63-77 7th St. Louis Cardinals
1970 St. Petersburg Cardinals Florida State League 78-52 3rd St. Louis Cardinals Lost League Finals
1971 St. Petersburg Cardinals Florida State League 72-69 5th St. Louis Cardinals

Related Sites[edit]