The Team That Forever Changed Baseball and America: The 1947 Brooklyn Dodgers

By Lyle Spatz; Maurice Bouchard et al. | Go to book overview

Chapter 37. Arky Vaughan

Ralph C. Moses

Hall of Famer Arky Vaughan spent most of his career playing shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates, but he was a valuable member of the Brooklyn Dodgers for his last four years in the Major Leagues. He played a key role as a reserve on the pennant-winning 1947 squad. Vaughan’s presence on the team in any role was unusual, to say the least. He had nearly fomented a players’ strike in 1943, when he became irate over manager Leo Durocher’s reprimanding a teammate in the press. He then quit the team at the end of the season and sat out three full years before returning in 1947.

Vaughan’s career achievements were remarkable. In 1935 Vaughan led the National League with a .385 batting average, and his .318 lifetime average is second among all shortstops to Honus Wagner’s .327. Over his career Vaughan walked 937 times, while striking out just 276 times. He was among the most difficult players to double up, grounding into only 70 double plays in the last thirteen years of his fourteen-year career. (GDP was not tracked in 1932.) Vaughan’s on-base percentage was an impressive .406, while his slugging percentage was a highly respectable .453. An All-Star selection for nine consecutive years, he compiled a .364 batting average in All-Star Games, and he was the first player to hit two home runs in one.

Arky Vaughan sat out three full seasons before returning
in 1947.

Joseph Floyd Vaughan was born on March 9, 1912, in Clifty, Arkansas, a farm village about twenty-five miles northeast of Fayetteville. When Arky was seven months old, his parents, Robert and Laura Vaughan, moved the family, including two older sisters, to Mendocino County near San Francisco. They later relocated to Fullerton, California, where Robert found work in the California oil fields. Joseph Floyd Vaughan’s childhood friends began calling him Arky as soon as they learned of his birthplace, and he was known as Arky Vaughan for the rest of his life.

At five feet ten inches and 175 pounds, Vaughan was a multisport star at Fullerton High School. In addition, he played on the undefeated Cypress Merchants of the Orange County Winter League in 1930–31. A neighbor of Vaughan’s tipped off

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