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Teach
10-21-2017, 07:31 AM
"Dutch The Clutch": Feast or Famine?

Back in 2010, David Ortiz's ("Big Papi") baseball season started out as either feast or famine. In April, it was famine. Ortiz batted just .143, hit only one home run, and batted in a meager four runs. Yet, in May, it was feast. Ortiz's production increased markedly. He hit .355, drove in 24 runs and socked nine homers.

Well, nearly 70 years-ago, the Red Sox had an outfielder named Clyde "Dutch the Clutch" Vollmer. "Dutch the Clutch" was born in Cincinnati, OH in 1921. His baseball career - it began in 1942 and was interrupted by World War II -spanned about ten years. He played for three Major League teams: the Reds, the Senators, and the Red Sox.

As a player, Vollmer was known more for his strong arm and outstanding defensive skills than his offensive prowess. Yet, Vollmer would have his moments at the plate when his batting droughts would suddenly end and he'd begin belting out battalions of base hits and home runs.

Early in his career Vollmer would give baseball fans a glimpse of his up-and-down, feast-or-famine ways. On the very first pitch of his first major league at bat Vollmer clouted a home run. He became, at the time, only the third player in ML baseball history to have have homered in his very first at bat. Ironically, after that auspicious beginning, Vollmer (he served our country in WW II) didn't hit another home run until 1947.

However, it would be in a Red Sox uniform that Clyde "Dutch the Clutch" Vollmer would produce his greatest batting explosion. A s it turns out, in May, 1950, Vollmer would be dealt by the Washington Senators to the Red Sox. As a member of the Sox during that 1950 season, Vollmer would hit a respectable .284 in 57 games.

However, it would be in the following year,1951 -- more specifically July, 1951 -- that Vollmer would go on a batting tear that would be remembered by Red Sox fans for years to come. That July,1951 would mark Vollmer's most prodigious batting "feast".

Well, the Vollmer "fireworks" began in early July when he hit a two-run triple to help beat the Yankees. A day later, he again helped the Sox beat "The Bronx Bombers" with a first-inning grand slam. The following day, the red-hot Vollmer help complete a sweep of the Yankees with a two-run blast.

About a week later, on July 12, Vollmer's sacrifice fly helped beat the White Sox. Although the Red Sox would lose to "the Pale Hose" the following day, Vollmer would hit two singles and a home run. In the finale of that three-game set at Comisky Park, Vollmer singled in two runs to give the Red Sox a 3-2 win.

During the rest of the month of July, Vollmer didn't miss a beat. He kept pounding the ball to all fields. Well, when July 31st finally arrived (mercifully for opposing moundsmen), Vollmer had hit 13 home runs and had collected 30 RBIs.

Well, it wasn't as if the clock had just struck midnight on July 31st, and Vollmer, as in the story of Cinderella, suddenly turned from a coach into a pumpkin; yet, he would tail off markedly after that sizzling July.

At the end of the 1951 season, one in which the Red Sox would finish third in the American League, 11 games behind the pennant-winning Yankees, Vollmer would end up with 22 home runs (less than half his July output) and 85 RBIs (less than three times the number of runs he has driven in during July). Vollmer ended up batting a modest .251 for the entire '51 season.

Yet, as we look back, those of us who are old enough to remember, will never forget those July batting heroics of "the gardener" from Cincinnati, whose career, although marked by periods of either "feast or famine," produced a July,1951 offensive explosion that none of us loyal Red Sox fans will ever forget.