Sacramento River Cats

Area baseball beat: The pride of Winters had a notable major-league career

Frank Demaree was 22 when the Chicago Cubs purchased him from the Sacramento Senators midway through the 1932 season, but the Winters High School graduate played in only 23 games as the Cubs won the National League pennant.

Demaree, however, played in two World Series games, hitting a home run and driving in four runs in the Cubs’ Series loss to the New York Yankees. He also made two spectacular catches, robbing Frank Crosetti of a home run in one game and Lou Gehrig of a home run in another. He was on the bench in Game 3 when Babe Ruth hit the home run off Charlie Root that began the controversy as to whether he called “the shot.”

When spring training rolled around in 1933, Demaree was penciled in as a backup outfielder at best. But when future Hall of Famer Kiki Cuyler broke his leg, Demaree became a regular in the Cubs’ outfield.

Even though Demaree hit .272 in 1933, the Cubs made a trade with the Philadelphia Phillies before the 1934 season for future Hall of Famer Chuck Klein. Klein was the N.L. MVP in 1932 and Triple Crown winner in 1933 when he hit .368 with 28 home runs and 120 RBIs.

With Klein on board and Cuyler healthy again, Demaree was the odd man out and found himself back in the minor leagues with the Los Angeles Angels of the Pacific Coast League.

Playing for the Angels wasn’t so bad. They went 137-50 and are considered the best minor-league team of all time. Demaree hit .383 with 45 home runs and 173 RBIs to win the Triple Crown and was named MVP. He also stole 41 bases in 186 games.

In 1935, he regained a starting job with the Cubs and had three consecutive outstanding seasons, hitting .325, .350 and .324, with highs of 17 home runs and 115 RBIs in 1937. He was selected by the fans to start in in the outfield for the N.L. in the 1936 and 1937 All-Star Games.

In the 1936 All-Star Game at Braves Field in Boston, he singled off future Hall of Famer Lefty Grove in the second inning to start a two-run rally and lead the N.L. to a 4-3 victory, the league’s first in All-Star competition.

In a 1937 doubleheader against the St. Louis Cardinals, Demaree had six consecutive hits in the 14-inning first game and two hits in the second game.

Demaree helped the Cubs win pennants in 1932, 1935 and 1938. During his only season with the Cardinals, he helped them win the pennant in 1943. During his last season in 1944, he helped the St. Louis Browns win the American League pennant but was released before the end of the season. His teams never won a World Series.

Demaree played 12 seasons and came within .001 of a percentage point of a lifetime batting average of .300.

He died in 1958 at age 48 from an intestinal hemorrhage.


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