Emil Verban

Emil Matthew Verban (his original Croatian name is Vrban; born August 27, 1915 – June 8, 1989) was a second baseman in Major League Baseball who played for the St. Louis Cardinals (1944-1946), Philadelphia Phillies (1946-1948), Chicago Cubs (1948-1950) and Boston Braves (1950). Verban batted and threw right-handed. He was born in Lincoln, Illinois.

Verban was a second baseman noted primarily for his fielding with four National League teams from 1944 through 1950. Verban did not reach the major leagues until the age of 28, when he joined the St. Louis Cardinals. He distinguished himself in the 1944 World Series against the St. Louis Browns, batting .412 (7-for-17) and driving in the deciding run in Game Six as the Cardinals won, 4 games to 2. Browns owner Don Barnes had earned the ire of Verban after refusing his request for a better seat for his pregnant wife. After the final game of the series, Verban was quoted as saying, "Now you can sit behind the post, meathead," in reference to Barnes.

His most productive season came in 1945, when he hit .278 and posted career-highs in runs (59), hits (166), doubles (22), triples (8) and runs batted in (72), and led the National League in games played (155) and fielding percentage (.978).

Verban also played for the Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia Phillies and Boston Braves, and made three consecutive appearances in the All-Star Game (1945–47). In 1947, he became the first Phillies second baseman to start an All-Star game. A good contact hitter, from 1947-48 he led the league in at-bats per strikeouts (67.5 and 34.8).

In a seven-season career, Verban posted a .272 average with one home run and 241 RBI in 853 games.

In 1975, a group of Chicago Cubs fans based in Washington, D.C. formed the Emil Verban Society to honor him. Verban was picked as the epitome of a Cub player, competent but obscure and typifying the work ethics. Verban initially believed he was being ridiculed, but his ill feeling disappeared several years later when he was flown to Washington to meet President Ronald Reagan, also a society member, at the White House.

Verban died in Quincy, Illinois, at the age of 73.

By Dean Hanley

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