James Edward Gentile (born June 3, 1934 in San Francisco, California), also nicknamed "Diamond Jim", is a former Major League Baseball first baseman and left-handed batter who played with the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers (1957–58); Baltimore Orioles (1960–63), Kansas City Athletics (1964–65), Houston Astros (1965–66) and Cleveland Indians (1966).
A powerful slugger listed at 6' 4", 215 lb, Gentile was signed by the Los Angeles Dodgers as a high school pitcher in 1952. He played his first minor league season as a pitcher, earning a 2-6 win-lost record. The next year he moved to first base. He languished for eight years in the minors for a Dodgers team that already had All-Star Gil Hodges at first base and Norm Larker. He dominated the minors, leading two separate leagues in home runs.
Gentile was traded to Baltimore in 1960, where he was named to the 1960 All-Star Game his first full season. He enjoyed his best season in 1961, hitting a career-highs .302 batting average, 46 home runs, 141 runs batted in(see below), 96 runs, 147 hits, 25 doubles, 96 walks, .423 on-base percentage, .646 slugging average and 1.069 OPS. He finished third in the MVP ballot (behind Mickey Mantle and Roger Maris). In addition, Gentile hit five grand slams — including two straight in one game — setting an American League record that stood until Don Mattingly belted six in 1987.
In a nine-season career, Gentile batted .260 (759-for-2922) with 179 home runs, 549 RBI, 434 runs, 113 doubles, six triples, and three stolen bases in 936 games. Following his major league career, he played one season in Japan for the Kintetsu Buffaloes in 1969.
Gentile managed the Fort Worth Cats when they returned to baseball in 2001 and 2002. Jim also managed the 2005 Mid-Missouri Mavericks of the Frontier League.
1961 RBI Record Keeping Error
Gentile's 141 RBIs in 1961 was second only to Roger Maris' 142 RBIs, however, analysis by the Society for American Baseball Research determined Maris was incorrectly credited with an RBI in a game on July 5, 1961. Maris reached base on an error by numerous accounts. Therefore, Gentile and Maris both had 141 RBIs in 1961. Gentile's contract with the Orioles in 1961 called for a $5,000 bonus if he led the league in RBIs. The Orioles made good on that deal 50 years later and presented Gentile with a check for $5,000 at a game in 2010.
Gentile now lives in Edmond, Oklahoma.
- ^ a b c d e Finkel, Jon (May 13, 2013). "Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris And Jim Gentile: The Story Of Baseball's Forgotten 1961 Sensation". The PostGame. Yahoo Sports!. Retrieved 3 January 2014.
- ^ Wilks, Ed (10 May 1961). "Oriole first baseman belts two grand slams". The Florence Times. p. 10. Retrieved 7 June 2010.
- ^ http://www.baseball-reference.com/blog/archives/7582?loc=interstitialskip
- ^ http://content.usatoday.com/communities/dailypitch/post/2010/07/orioles-jim-gentile-missed-5000-over-error-giving-roger-maris-rbi-crown/1#.U2EatvldXHU
- ^ JIM GENTILE – 1961 Most Valuable Oriole | Urban Shocker's Weblog Retrieved 2012-10-24.
By Dean Hanley
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