Maurice Van Robays
Maurice Rene Van Robays (Bomber, The Belgian Bomber)
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 0", Weight 190 lb.
- Debut September 7, 1939
- Final Game September 22, 1946
- Born November 15, 1914 in Detroit, MI USA
- Died March 1, 1965 in Detroit, MI USA
Maurice Van Robays, a bespectacled outfielder who played six seasons in the majors, became a regular outfielder with a splash as he, Bob Elliott, and Vince DiMaggio replaced the old guard of Paul Waner, Lloyd Waner, and Johnny Rizzo in the Pittsburgh Pirates outfield in 1940. Both Van Robays and Elliott were playing in their first full seasons, while DiMaggio was in his first season with the Pirates.
Van Robays, born in 1914 in Detroit, MI, was in the minors with the Detroit Tigers organization but missed a couple of seasons due to health issues.
Van Robays was up with the Pirates briefly in 1939, hitting .314 in 27 games. In 1940, when he became a regular, he drove in 116 runs, which was 3rd in the league. He has one of the lowest OPS numbers for anyone knocking in 100 RBI. Arky Vaughan, who scored 113 runs that year for the Pirates, was the main recipient of Van Robays' RBI ability. Van Robays did it mostly with singles, although he had 7 triples and 11 home runs that year. Of course, Forbes Field was not a very friendly park for home run hitters, and Van Robays might well have been a bigger star elsewhere.
His power went down in 1941, although his batting average went up to .282 and his on-base percentage to .341. Even with only 4 home runs, his 78 RBI were still second on the team behind Vince DiMaggio. He slumped significantly in 1942, to .232 with one home run in 328 at-bats, and became the fourth outfielder. In 1943, his average went back up to .288, and his slugging percentage of .432 was one of the best on the team, as he appeared in 69 games.
He was then gone for World War II, entering the Army in September 1943 and being dischared in April 1946. He came back in 1946 for one last season when he hit .212 in 59 games.
In 1947 and 1948, he played for the Oakland Oaks in the Pacific Coast League. The 1948 Oakland Oaks were one of the greatest minor league teams, and were immortalized as the "Nine Old Men". In 1947, he hit .295, while in 1948 he hit .313. In neither year was he one of the big home run hitters on the team.
He died at the age of 50.
Van Robays was remembered again in 2004 when Jason Bay was having a good year, since historians, in searching for the last time a Pirates rookie had driven in copious RBI, came up with the Van Robays performance in 1940.
When Rip Sewell used a slow floater pitch, Van Robays gave it its name, the "eephus pitch". He commented on it: "An eephus ain't nothing. And that's what that pitch is...nothing."
- 100 RBI Seasons: 1 (1940)
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