Rogers McKee

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Roger Hornsby McKee

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Biographical Information[edit]

Rogers McKee broke into professional baseball as a teenager with the Philadelphia Phillies in 1943, pitching four of his five major league games at age 16 and 17 that year. He went 1-0 with a 6.08 ERA.

He spent most of 1944 with the Wilmington Blue Rocks, batting .225/~.278/.338 as a first baseman and going 6-8, 4.25 on the mound. Surprisingly, he pitched in another game for the Phillies, allowing one run in two innings. His last major league game was on his 18th birthday. Despite being 18 years old and active as a player for another 13 years, he never appeared again in the major leagues.

He was named "Roger Hornsby McKee", and was born near the end of the 1926 season, a year in which Rogers Hornsby did not win a batting title but managed the St. Louis Cardinals to a World Series championship. While he was usually called Rogers, with a final "s" like his famous namesake, official records such as his World War II draft registration card and the 1940 Census indicate that he was given the more common first name, Roger.

In 1945, McKee did not play ball as he was serving in the US Navy. The next season, he was with the Terre Haute Phillies and hit .318/~.428/.507 with 10 triples and 75 RBI and won his last pitching decision to finish 8-8 on the mound in his career. In 1947, Rogers hit .220 for the Lynchburg Cardinals and .234 for the Columbus Red Birds in his only appearance at the AAA level. In 1948, the 21-year-old batted .271 with the Shelby Farmers. 1949 saw him with the Newton-Conover Twins, where he hit .358. In 1950, Roger batted .257/~.353/.330 for the Tampa Smokers and was primarily an outfielder.

1952 was split between Tampa and the St. Petersburg Saints and Rogers hit .251/~.372/.383 with the unusual line of six doubles, seven triples and eight home runs. In 1953, McKee hit just .176 for St. Petersburg and moved on to the Baton Rouge Red Sticks. For the Red Sticks, he batted .357 with 13 homers and 81 RBI and he won the Evangeline League batting crown. For the first time in his career, he had hit double-digit home runs.

1954 was even better; he hit .321 with 33 HR and 130 RBI at age 27 and he was third in the Evangeline League in both homers and RBI. In 1955, McKee played briefly for the Shreveport Sports but spent the bulk of the year with the Rock Hill Chiefs. He hit .287 for Rock Hill and he was tied for fifth in the Tri-State League with 8 homers.

In 1956, McKee hit .307 for Baton Rouge and .257 with the Charlotte Hornets. He finished his career with Baton Rouge (.295/~.425/.447 in 54 games, drawing 42 walks with 15 Ks, leading the Evangeline League outfielders with 15 assists) and the Topeka Hawks (a dazzling 7 for 11 in three contests).

Sources: 1945, 1947, 1951, 1953 and 1958 Baseball Guides, Pat Doyle's Professional Baseball Player Database

Personal Remembrances[edit]

Rogers McKee was a veteran first baseman for the 1955 Rock Hill Chiefs of the Class B Tri-State League. He was a tall, lanky ballplayer, with black hair, and I believe was from his home-state of Pennsylvania. My recollection was that he threw and batted left-handed. Roger was a good all-around first baseman, and a fair-to-good hitter. I'm sure he had played pro ball for a few years before the '55 Rock Hill season. He may have played for the Charlotte Hornets prior to 1955. He was a good teammate, being level-headed, and easy to get along with. He probably continued his pro career in the minor leagues, but I'm not certain.

--Submitted by Bill O'Donnell (User:Pitcher53) as a remembrance by a former teammate

Roger McKee was from Shelby, NC. His father, Broadus McKee (Broad), named him Rogers Hornsby McKee after the famous player of the day. His uncle was my grandfather Williams Jennings Bryan McKee better known as Dick McKee.-- submitted by Wayne McKee ( a proud descendant)

Further Reading[edit]

  • Chuck Hildebrandt: "Sweet! 16-Year-Old Players in Major League History", Baseball Research Journal, SABR, Vol. 48, Nr. 1, Spring 2019, pp. 5-17.

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