Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Browns Debs Garms: The Forgotten Texas Batting Champ!

From Bill McCurdy, Houston, TX

Debs Garms may simply be one of the most underrated players to hail from the Lone Star State.

In a twelve season major league career (1932-35, 1937-41, 1943-45), utility infielder-outfielder Debs Garms batted .293 for his career work on four MLB clubs (St. Louis Browns, Boston Bees, Pittsburgh Pirates, and St. Louis Cardinals.)

In 1938, while playing for the NL Boston Bees, Garms' single with two outs in the 4th inning broke up Johnny Vander Meer's shot at a third consecutive no-hit game for the Cincinnati Reds.

By 1940, Debs Garms won a controversial (by today's standards)National League batting title as a Pittsburgh Pirate by hitting .355 in only 358 official times at bat. Today the rules require a batting champion to have attained 3.1 total plate appearances for each game on his club's season schedule. (That includes official times at bat, walks, all the times a batter reached base because he had been hit by the pitcher, and all those far less frequent times a batter reached base due to catcher's interference.) Had those same qualifying rules been in place back in 1940, Debs Garms would not have qualified for the title due to an insufficient number of total plate trips, but, as folks are inclined to say, he did enough to get it done by the rules in place in 1940. Debs Garms is a native Texan batting champion too, and not just some faceless "Who Dat Guy?".

In 2004, Debs Garms was finally honored by his home state with a posthumous induction into the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame. We only wish it could have come in time to honor the scrappy Texan prior to his death in 1984 at Glen Rose, Texas at the age of 76.

Debs Garms took a lot of pride in his hitting and he protected his bats like a mother hen protects her chicks. All of his theories about the care of wood may or may not have helped him. As you may observe in the above painting by Texas artist Opie Otterstad, Debs believed that it was good for his bats to spend the winter on the roof of his barn. Debs lived on his own ranch near tiny Glen Rose, Texas in the off-seasons and he definitely had a barn that worked out well for bat-tanning. Whether that practice really tempered the wood better - or even bought a few extra base knocks for Garms the following season, who can say?

All we can know from his career numbers is that the guy was a persistently good hitter for average without any long ball power - and a player who would try his hand at just about any position, if it helped his team and also kept him in the game.

We could use a few more people like Debs Garms today - in baseball and in life.
- - - - -

More on Texas batting champs at: Debs Garms: The Forgotten Texas Batting Champ!

1 comment:

  1. Jerry J. Robertsj4/1/12 11:47 AM

    I met Mr. Garms in 1963. As I recall, he lived across the street from the Glen Rose H.S.. I played on the high school team (3rd base). It was the first year for hardball(as it called then) at the high school. One of my friends at the time invited me over to Debs house to kill time before practice. Debs was "a good ole boy". After a while, he showed me his scrap book and told me about the time that he and Stan Musial ran together chasing a fly ball in the outfield. I beleive he said Stan was taken out of the game as I result. I liked Debs, and I think he liked young people who got into baseball.