Mickey Cochrane, Philadelphia Athletics
Gordon Stanley “Mickey” Cochrane (April 6, 1903 – June 28, 1962), nicknamed “Black Mike“, was an American professional baseball player, manager and coach. He played in Major League Baseball as a catcher for the Philadelphia Athletics and Detroit Tigers. Cochrane was considered one of the best catchers in baseball history and is a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Cochrane was born in Massachusetts and was a multi-sport athlete at Boston University. After college, he chose baseball over basketball and football. He made his major league debut in 1925, having spent only one season in the minor leagues. He was chosen as the American League (AL) Most Valuable Player in 1928 and he appeared in the World Series from 1929 to 1931. Philadelphia won the first two of those World Series, but Cochrane was criticized for giving up stolen bases when his team lost the series in 1931. Cochrane’s career batting average (.320) stood as a record for MLB catchers until 2009.
Cochrane’s career ended abruptly after a near-fatal head injury from a pitched ball in 1937. After his professional baseball career, he served in the United States Navy in World War II and ran an automobile business. Cochrane died of cancer in 1962. In 1999, The Sporting News ranked him 65th on its list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players.
From Baseball in Wartime:
Mickey Cochrane attended Boston University but dropped out in his junior year. He broke in with the Philadelphia Athletics in 1925 as the team’s starting catcher, quickly establishing himself as one of the best offensive players ever at the position.
In 13 major league seasons with the Athletics and Tigers, Cochrane played in five World Series and scored the run that clinched the 1935 Series. “That was my greatest day in baseball,” he later said.
From 1934 he was the Tigers’ player-manager and Elden Auker called him the greatest player-manager in the history of baseball.
In May 1937, Cochrane took a fastball to his right temple and collapsed in a heap. He was unconscious for ten days and never played again.
Cochrane joined the Navy in 1942. He was stationed at Great Lakes Naval Training Station where he coached their formidable baseball team until 1944. On July 7, 1942, Cochrane managed an All-Service team that played against an American League all-star squad at Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium. Before 62,059 fans, the American League beat the servicemen, 5-0.
Tragedy struck Cochrane in 1944, his only son, Gordon Jr, was killed at Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944. Former major league pitcher, Elden Auker, wrote in his autobiography, Sleeper Cards and Flannel Uniforms: “The bullet that killed him [Gordon, Jr] had some kind of range. It traveled all the way across the Atlantic, lodged itself into the spirit of Gordon’s father, the great Mickey Cochrane, and slowly killed him. Mickey’s gravestone shows he died June 28, 1962, but he started dying June 6, 1944. Consider his another life claimed by World War II.”
In 1945, Cochrane went to Gab Gab Beach, Guam to head the Navy’s fleet recreational center.
Cochrane was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1947. He went on to serve as general manager of the Athletics and later became Vice President of the Tigers. He succumbed to cancer in June 1962, aged 59.