Sammy Meeks

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Samuel Mack Meeks

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Biographical Information[edit]

Sammy Meeks was a shortstop 14 years (1946-1959), four in the Major Leagues (1948-1951) and 14 in the minors. He served four years in the United States Armed Forces (1941-1945) (TSN).

He was born on April 23, 1923, in Anderson, SC. He was signed by the New York Giants as an amateur free agent in 1946. Meeks was 25 years old when he broke into the big leagues on April 29, 1948, with the Washington Senators. He had cups of coffee with the Senators (1948) and the Cincinnati Reds (1949, 1950 and 1951) and then became the property of the Chicago White Sox from which he was drafted in the 1953 minor league draft by the Detroit Tigers, but he never wore either uniform in the majors.

Meeks seemed to have won the shortstop job with the Senators coming out of spring training in 1948. However, he just couldn't keep hold of it. He had hit .348 for the Charlotte Hornets in 1947 and he was playing for the Chattanooga Lookouts during an exhibition game on March 25, 1948 when he caught the eye of Washington's owner Clark Griffith. A day later, he collected two hits for Washington in an exhibition game against the Birmingham Barons.

His problems, however, seemed to start as the team made its way back to Washington. As was the tradition at the time, teams leaving spring training would often play a series of exhibition games as they worked their way back home. On April 14th, the Nationals and the Philadelphia Phillies were facing off in Charlotte, NC and Meeks, who had started at shortstop for Washington, committed an error during the 5th inning - an inning that saw the Phillies score five runs. The next day, Meeks' fielding troubles continued. In a game between the same two teams, this time in Winston-Salem, NC, Meeks committed three errors. He also finished the game without a hit - his third straight hitless contest. Meeks, however, did have an excuse for the problems. According to a Washington Post report, Meeks had a badly bruised hand and the injury was so severe that he was wrapping a sponge around the handle of his bat to try to "deaden the shock."

He hit only .121 that season in 24 games - just four hits in 33 at-bats. On May 14th, Washington purchased the contract of Carden Gillenwater to add some depth and Washington Post reports from the time pointed to Meeks as the person who would lose a spot on the roster. He returned to Charlotte and found his stroke again at the plate. He was hitting .318 for Charlotte by the end of the season and received a call-up to Washington. He was back in the minor leagues in 1949, but he was finding some success at the plate. While playing for the Syracuse Chiefs, Meeks had a string of three games in early July during which he hit four home runs.

Later that season, he was back in the major leagues, this time with Cincinnati. on September 22nd, in a double-header against the Giants, Meeks hit a home run off Monte Kennedy in the 6th inning of the first game. He followed that in the 2nd inning with a two-run shot off Andy Tomasic. He hit just those two home runs that season.

He played in 39 games for the Reds in 1950, a career high. He hit .284 with a home run and 8 RBI in 95 at-bats that season. He appeared in just 23 games for the Reds in 1951 and hit only .229 with 2 RBI.

The rest of his career was played in the minor leagues and included stops in with the Toledo Mud Hens, Buffalo Bisons, Mobile Bears and Chattanooga. One of his highlights came on May 5, 1954 when he connected for five hits in five at-bats for the Bisons.

As a minor league player with Chattanooga in 1959, he provided testimony that led to the banishment of Jesse Levan for allegedly trying to fix games. Levan was suspended for life and teammate Waldo Gonzalez received a one-year suspension for alleged involvement as a "go-between for gamblers seeking to fix games."

According to a New York Times article, "Meeks testified that Levan had offered him a deal in Mobile, when Meeks was a player-coach for the Mobile club. Meeks later was released and signed with Chattanooga as a player." No action was taken against Meeks for not reporting the scheme earlier, according to the story. Meeks retired shortly thereafter.

Following his career in baseball, he worked with Shoney's Restaurants in Memphis, TN. He died in 2007, on his 84th birthday.

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