Lou Limmer

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Abraham Louis Limmer

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Biographical Information[edit]

Long and gangly Lou Limmer pretty much epitomized the lowly Philadelphia Athletics of the early 1950s. Despite considerable power, his low batting average and on-base percentage would limited his major league career to only two seasons. He was a first baseman for 13 years (1946-1958), two in the Major Leagues (1951 and 1954) and eleven in the minors (1946-1950, 1952-1953 and 1955-1958). He won two minor league home run titles, fell one shy in a third year and was in the top 5 seven times. A former American Association Rookie of the Year, Limmer twice led the Caribbean Series in home runs. He hit two historic home runs in his two years in the major leagues - the last by a member of the Philadelphia A's and the only homer by a Jewish batter against a Jewish pitcher with a Jewish catcher. He drove in 1,041 runs in Organized Baseball. He also was once nicknamed the "Babe Ruth" of Batting Practice.

Pre-baseball life[edit]

Limmer was a large, friendly man who hailed from a large athletic family in the Bronx. After starring as a high school athlete, he served in the United States Army Air Corps during World War II (1943-1946). Limmer originally gave his birth year as 1927 to try to increase his signing bonus; it was later revealed that he was two years older.

Early career[edit]

Signed by the Philadelphia Athletics as an amateur free agent in 1946, he was scouted and signed by George Halpin and Connie Mack. Limmer debuted with the Lexington A's, hitting .313/~.356/.467 in 40 games, then followed with a .326 campaign in which he bashed 24 homers and drove in 95 for Lexington. No teammate had more than four home runs and Limmer tied Hal Harrigan for third in the North Carolina State League in homers. He was 5th in RBI as well.

Limmer faced the first overt anti-Semitism of his life in the Deep South, seeing signs like ‘Jews, niggers, and dogs: Stay out.’”

In 1948, Limmer moved up to the Lincoln A's and batted .288 with 28 HR and 93 RBI before he broke his neck in late August while sliding into third base. He lost his eyesight temporarily due to the injury and did not return to complete the season. He still managed to finish sixth in the Western League in RBI and second in home runs, only one behind leader Carl Sawatski. Teammates included Bobby Shantz, Nellie Fox, Earle Brucker Jr. and Bob Wellman.

Limmer was back with Lincoln in 1949 and hit .315 with 29 HR and 105 RBI. He edged Chuck Tanner for 4th in the WL in average and led in home runs. He was third in RBI. For the second straight season, though, he failed to make the WL All-Star team.

1950: A big year at AAA[edit]

Limmer was optioned to the Brooklyn Dodgers and moved up to AAA in 1950 with the St. Paul Saints, where he continued to shine. He batted .277/~.379/.521. Limmer scored 98 runs, drew 96 walks (fourth in the American Association and drove in 111 runs, leading the league. He smashed an AA-leading 29 home runs, but did so in a rather unusual fashion. Lou hit at least two home runs in every park in the AA - except at home. Limmer went homerless in his first 63 games at Lexington Park before he finally hit one out on August 10. In a 11-day stretch in August and September, Limmer smashed 8 home runs. He also led league first basemen in putouts (1,174), errors (21) and double plays (114). He won the American Association Rookie of the Year award.

1951: First shot at the majors and some history[edit]

Thanks to an injury by Ferris Fain, Limmer saw regular action in the majors with the 1951 Athletics but disappointed with a .159/.256/.280 line for a 44 OPS+ in 94 games. He struck out against Ellis Kinder in his first at-bat. Limmer did enter the history books on May 2. For the first (and as of 2006) only time in MLB history, a Jewish batter faced a Jewish pitcher (Saul Rogovin in this case) with a Jewish catcher (Joe Ginsberg) calling the shots. Umpire Joe Paparella commented on the unusual nature of the situation. Limmer shone in this moment, as the pinch-hitter homered off of Rogovin. He had another pinch-hit homer of note on April 23, going deep against Vic Raschi in Yankee Stadium in his hometown.

1952-1953: Back to AAA[edit]

With Fain back in 1952, Limmer returned to the minors with the Ottawa A's. He hit .259/~.340/.444 with 23 HR and 75 RBI. He finished fourth in the International League in homers. He led IL first basemen in putouts (1,343), errors (19) and double plays (134).

Returning to Ottawa in 1953, Lou had another solid season. He produced at a .274/~.356/.435 clip, though his 15 homers marked his lowest level yet in a full minor league season. The 28-year-old had the most errors of any IL first baseman yet again (16).

1954: More baseball history in his second MLB stint[edit]

In 1954 with Fain gone, Limmer still faced formidable competition at first base with Vic Power and Don Bollweg. He still led the 1954 Athletics in games at first (79) and did much better than in his prior major league stint, batting .231/.305/.415 with 14 HR in 316 AB. Despite good power production, his OPS+ was still under 100 (96), not good enough at a hitters' position. He earned notice at the local level for his prodigious performance in batting practice and got the nickname "Babe Ruth of Batting Practice" from Philadelphia fans. Limmer is the answer to two A's trivia questions: He had the last home run for the team in Philadelphia and their last base hit, the former on September 25 and the latter on September 26.

Later career[edit]

Lou Boudreau opted for Power as the starter for 1955 and Limmer was sent back to the minors. He played in 1955 for the Columbus Jets and Toronto Maple Leafs, combining to hit .272 with 28 HR and 82 RBI. He was third in the IL in homers, six behind leader Rocky Nelson.

In the 1956 Caribbean Series, Limmer hit .350, slugged .850, scored six and drove in eight for the Caguas-Guayama club. Lou tied Elias Osorio for the Series lead in home runs (3 in 6 games).

In 1956, Limmer only hit .216 with 2 HR and 11 RBI for Toronto and moved on to the Charleston Senators, where he batted .280 with 14 HR and 58 RBI.

Limmer played for the Omaha Cardinals in 1957 and put up a .263/~.353/.417 batting line while leadign American Association first basemen with a .995 fielding percentage. Limmer hit 18 home runs that season.

Playing for the Industriales de Valencia in the 1958 Caribbean Series, Limmer hit .381/?/.762 and was the only player in the Series to hit multiple homers, going deep twice.

Limmer rounded out his playing career with the 1958 Birmingham Barons, batting .264 with a career-high 30 HR plus 100 RBI. He was four home runs behind Southern Association leader Kent Hadley, finishing second, and was 4th in the league in RBI.

He rounded out his OB career with 265 homeruns and 1,041 RBI. He hit .281 in the minors.

Later, Limmer spent his summers in New Jersey and winters in Florida with his wife Pearl but always found time for the events of the Philadelphia Athletics Historical Society. He also took time to visit with children, talking about life in MLB and answering all their questions. Because of his contributions as a Veteran, an athlete and his community service, he was nominated to the Philadelphia Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. His son Daniel was a talented baseball player in his own right, and son Craig coached and taught youth baseball for over 20 years, and was named the Gatorade Youth Coach of the Year in baseball in 1984, attributing all he knew to his father, Lou.

Additionally, Limmer served as the president of his synagogue, the Castle Hill JCC in the Bronx, for five years. He also volunteered at Pine Brook School. He suffered from COPD later in life.

On opening day of the 2007 baseball season, April 1st, Lou passed away peacefully in Florida. He had been the second-oldest living Jewish player, after Mickey Rutner.

Famous Last[edit]

Lou was the last Philadelphia Athletic to get a hit and home run (1954)


Principal sources for Lou Limmer 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 {{{WW}}} (WW), old Baseball Registers {{{BR}}} (BR) , old Daguerreotypes by TSN {{{DAG}}} (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) {{{MORE}}} and independent research by Walter Kephart (WK) and Frank Russo (FR) and others. Other sources include The Big Book of Jewish Baseball by Peter Horvitz and Joachim Horvitz, a Jewish Telegraph Agency report after Limmer's death, 1947, 1951, 1953, 1954 and 1958 Baseball Guides, Cuban Baseball: A Statistical History by Jorge Figueredo, an Oct. 5, 2006 feature article in the New Jersey Jewish News.[1]

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