I’ve recently acquired the 1932 set of APBA baseball cards, and while going through them, I found a very interesting story.
Apparently the St. Louis Browns of ’32 had a thirdbaseman named Jim McLaughlin (I stopped for a second because I have a friend with the same name.)
Turns out Mr. McLaughlin received a card for the Browns in that set, despite having just one plate appearance.
Also as it turns out, that was Jim McLaughlin’s only plate appearance in the major leagues.
Apparently in the late stages of a 14-7 loss to Detroit on April 18, 1932 at Navin Field, McLaughin – a St. Louis native who somehow found his way to the Browns after six years in the Pacific Coast League – either pinch-hit for or went into the field for thirdbaseman Red Kress (who had gone 0-for-4) and in his only at-bat, drove in a run on a groundout.
That was it. He never played again in the majors or (apparently) the minors.
One at-bat on a Monday afternoon in Detroit at the age of 30. A groundout. An RBI. A lopsided loss.
McLaughlin had a pretty good record in the PCL: He was a career .299 hitter, but his career was interrupted (by what, we don’t know) a couple of times. He played for Sacramento in 1924 and 1925 (that’s him pictured, above, in a Sacramento uniform), then disappeared in 1926 and 1927 before re-surfacing and hitting .310 with 10 homers for the Senators in 1928. He was a regular in Sacramento until 1931, but doesn’t seem to have played in 1932 before appearing on the roster of the Browns early in the 1932 season.
I’m intrigued by this guy I had never heard of until 15 minutes ago. How did he come to be with the Browns? (As you probably know, the Brownies were bad, but not unprecedentedly bad. They finished sixth in 1932 and had finished fifth the year before with an identical 63-91 record.) What was he doing in 1932? Why did his career have a break in 1926 and 1927? And why was he out of the game at 30?
Jim McLaughlin died December 15, 1968 at the age of 66 in Mount Vernon, Illinois and is buried in Oakwood Cemetery. He’s not even a footnote in the history of baseball. But he has an APBA card and, as of now, someone interested in finding out about him.
I’ve put the word out to some folks. I’ll let you know what I find.