Tag Archives: Mickey Rocco

1940 Nashville Third Baseman Bob Boken

Bob Boken was born in Maryvale, Illinois, February 23, 1908, and proved to be a steady performer for the Vols’ 1940 championship team. Prior to being obtained by Nashville, the 5’ 11” 185-lb. Boken had played pro ball for 10 seasons.

He played for Washington and the Chicago White Sox in 1933 and 1934, having made his major league debut for the Senators on April 25, 1933 against the New York Yankees at Griffith Stadium, substituting for future Hall of Fame shortstop Joe Cronin late in the game.

Boken spent the better part of five seasons with St. Paul (American Association – Class AA). He had socked 21 home runs in 1938 with 19 doubles and four triples for St. Paul, one of his best seasons to date.

He was acquired by Nashville from Louisville (American Association – Class AA) on February 17, 1940. Nashville manager Larry Gilbert felt Boken was exactly what the Vols needed.

“I’ve been trying to get Boken since early last season,” declared Gilbert in announcing the deal. “…is a power hitter, not a “tapritis” hitter…I wanted a right-handed hitter for third base and he should fill the bill perfectly.”[1]

In 1940, Gilbert’s second year of managing the Nashville club, the team won on opening day and never fell below first place the entire rest of the season. Nashville finished the season with a 101-47 (.682) record as Boken and Gus Dugas tied with 118 RBI for the league lead. His season stats included 178 hits, 13 home runs, and a .302 batting average, and he was steady performer at the hot corner.

Boken had a 20-game regular-season hitting streak going until July 11 when he failed to get a hit in the first game of a double header against Atlanta. He probably has his best game of the playoffs in Game 1 against the Houston Buffaloes in the Dixie Series. Playing before 2,698 shivering Sulphur Dell fans, Nashville won 7-5 as Johnny Mihalic, Boken, and pitcher Ace Adams each have two hits apiece.

At the end of the season, Gilbert traded Boken and Mickey Rocco to Buffalo (International League – Class AA) for cash and left-handed hitting Les Fleming. Boken never quite matches his 1940 hitting ability, spending the next seven years with various minor league teams before giving managing a try with Newark (Ohio State League – Class D) in 1946 and El Centro, California (Sunset League – Class C) in 1947.  He  then hung up his spikes.

At the age of 80, he passed away on October 8, 1988 in Las Vegas, and is buried there in Memory Gardens Cemetery.

© 2018 by Skip Nipper. All Rights Reserved.

SOURCES

Baseball-reference.com

Newspapers.com

Retrosheet.org

 

[1] Raymond Johnson, “New Infielder Power Hitter,” Nashville Tennessean, February 18, 1940, 41.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Biography, History, Research

1940 Nashville Vols

In conjunction with its 100th Anniversary Celebration in 2001, Minor League Baseball named the 1940 Nashville Vols as the 47th best minor league team of all time.

Nashville_Vols_1940_2Included on the roster were Cletus “Boots” Poffenburger, Tom Drake, John Milhalic, Oris Hockett, Gus Dugas, George Jeffcoat, Ace Adams, Russ Meers, Dick Culler, Charley “Greek” George, Mickey Rocco, Robert Boken, Arnold Moser, Johnny Sain, Tommy Tatum, Marv Felderman, and Leo Twardy.

After leading the league from opening day until season’s end, Larry Gilbert’s team won 101 games.  The team’s batting average totaled .311 for the year, Boots Poffenberger won 26 games, and reliever Ace Adams stuck out 122 rival batters.

George Jeffcoat struck out 18 Chattanooga Lookouts on September 10, 1940 in a Shaughnessy Playoff game for Nashville at the end of the season.  The Vols beat Houston of the Texas League four games to one in the Dixie Series.

Ironically, the team roster stayed intact for the entire season.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized