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Merv Shea

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Mervyn David John Shea

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 11", Weight 175 lb.

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Biographical Information[edit]

Catcher Merv Shea played eleven seasons in the majors.

A San Francisco native, Shea and his family lived through the 1906 earthquake before relocating to Crockett, California. He began his pro baseball career in 1922, joining his brother Elmer Shea as a member of the Sacramento Senators and hitting .362 in 18 games. He spent a total of five seasons with Sacramento before his contract was purchased by the Detroit Tigers in early 1927.

Shea hit just .176 in 34 games as a rookie with the Tigers in 1927. Overall, he spent three years with the club as the club's backup backstop. He returned to the minors with the Milwaukee Brewers of the American Association in 1930. He spent the next two summers with the Louisville Colonels before being acquired by the Boston Red Sox in 1933. He hit only .143 in 16 games for Boston before being traded to the St. Louis Browns for future Hall of Famer Rick Ferrell in early May. He hit better with St. Louis, posting a .262 average in 94 games for the Browns. However, he excelled behind the plate that year, committing only 2 errors in 101 games and recording a .996 fielding percentage, tying the American League record for catchers (a mark that has since been broken).

Shea was traded again following the 1933 season, dealt to the Chicago White Sox for Frank Grube. He spent four years with Chicago, primarily as Luke Sewell's backup, but also unofficially served as a coach with the team. He was supposed to join the St. Paul Saints in 1938 but instead was acquired by the Brooklyn Dodgers following an injury to catcher Babe Phelps. After hitting .183 in 48 games, he was released late in the season.

Shea joines the Tigers as a coach in 1939 and also appeared in 4 games behind the plate. He remained on their staff through 1942 and managed the club for two games in 1942. He was then player-manager of the Portland Beavers in 1943, leading the club to a 79-76 record and a fourth place finish while hitting .221 in 41 games. He returned to the majors as a coach with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1944 and also appeared in 7 games for the team that year. He hit .267 for the team while the oldest man in the National League at 43 years old. He remained a Phillies coach in 1944 and was a member of the Chicago Cubs staff in 1948 and 1949. He joined the Sacramento Solons as a coach in 1951 but left the club the following summer due to illness. He died in 1953 at age 52.

Shea played himself in the 1949 film The Stratton Story.

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