Elmer William Valo (March 5, 1921 – July 19, 1998), born Imrich Valo, was a Slovak American right fielder, coach and scout in Major League Baseball, making his debut on September 22, 1940. He batted left-handed and threw right-handed.
Playing in the major leagues for 20 years, Valo was a .282 hitter with 58 home runs and 601 RBI in 1806 games, with most of his time spent as a member of the Philadelphia & Kansas City Athletics (1940–43, 1946–56).
Valo also played with the Philadelphia Phillies (1956, 1961), Brooklyn & Los Angeles Dodgers (1957–58), Cleveland Indians (1959), New York Yankees (1960), and Washington Senators/Minnesota Twins (1960–61). His last game was on October 1, 1961, with the Phillies.
Valo played for Federalsburg of the Eastern Shore League in 1939 and for Wilmington in the Interstate League in 1940. It has been alleged that Valo played one game for Philadelphia on September 30, 1939. The significance of this is that if it were true, Valo would join Ted Williams, Mickey Vernon, and Early Wynn as the four decade players from the 30's to the 60's. Although there is no evidence supporting this allegation, the box score for the game in question is incomplete.
A native of Rybník, Czechoslovakia (now Slovakia), Valo emigrated to the United States with his family at the age of six. He was a hustling player and an aggressive line-drive hitter who hit .300 or better five times, with a high-career .364 in 1955. As a right fielder, he was noted for his fearless manner in challenging fences, and occasionally crashed through an outfield wall in pursuit of a ball.
Valo's big-league playing career was affected by three franchise relocations. Valo spent his first 13 seasons in the majors with the Philadelphia A's, then accompanied the team to Kansas City when the club moved after the 1954 season. Valo moved with the Brooklyn Dodgers to Los Angeles after the 1957 season. And after playing for the Washington Senators in 1960, Valo found himself playing in Minnesota in 1961 when the Senators franchise moved to Minneapolis and became the Twins.
On May 1, 1949, Valo became the first player in the American League to hit two bases-loaded triples in a game. He added a third bases-loaded triple in the same season, to tie the mark set by Shano Collins in 1918. Years later, the mark of two bases-loaded triples in a game has been matched only by Bill Bruton (NL, 1959) and Duane Kuiper (AL, 1978). He also hit for the cycle in 1950, and belted three home runs in a game a year later; but as Valo's career moved into its final phase, he became an outstanding pinch-hitter. He used his strike zone judgment to post an on-base percentage over .400 in eight of the ten seasons (.414 from 1946 to 1955).
In 1960, Valo set major-league pinch-hitting season records for games, walks and times on base. He also set a major-league career record with 91 walks as a pinch-hitter.
Following his retirement as a player, Valo worked with the Indians' organization as a major league coach and minor league manager, and served as a scout for the Phillies for 13 years, until the time of his death.
Elmer Valo died at Palmerton Hospital in Palmerton, Pennsylvania, at age of 77. He was inducted into the Phillies Wall of Fame, at Veterans Stadium, in 1990.
By Dean Hanley
Page : 1