Marvin James Owen (March 22, 1906 – June 22, 1991) was an American third baseman in Major League Baseball. He played nine seasons in the American League with the Detroit Tigers (1931; 1933–37), Chicago White Sox (1938–39), and Boston Red Sox (1940).
Owen was born in Agnew, California (now part of Santa Clara) and played high school baseball at Bellarmine College Preparatory and college baseball for the Santa Clara Broncos. After he joined the Tigers in 1931, Owen played a full season in the minor leagues before rejoining the team in 1933.
The Detroit infield in the mid-1930s was one of the best-hitting combinations in MLB history. With Hank Greenberg at first, Charlie Gehringer at second, Billy Rogell at shortstop, and Owen at third, the 1934 Tigers infield collected 769 hits (214 by Gehringer, 201 by Greenberg, 179 by Owen and 175 by Rogell), 462 RBIs (139 by Greenberg, 127 by Gehringer, 100 by Rogell, and 96 by Owen), 179 doubles (63 by Greenberg, 50 by Gehringer, 34 by Owen and 32 by Rogell). Three members of the 1934 Tigers infield (Gehringer, Owen and Rogell) played in all 154 games, and the fourth (Greenberg) played in 153. Led by the hard hitting infield, the Tigers won the American League in both 1934 and 1935.
In Game 7 of the 1934 World Series at Navin Field, Joe Medwick of the Cardinals tripled in the sixth inning with the score 7–0 in favor of St. Louis. On the play, Owen was knocked down by a hard slide at third and the two players fought. The incident and subsequent fan reaction toward Medwick forced Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis to remove Medwick from the game. Owen batted .069 (2-29) in the Series and would bat .050 (1-20) in the 1935 World Series, in which the Tigers defeated the Chicago Cubs in six games. He set a post-season record of most consecutive plate appearances between hits (31).
In 1936, Owen batted .295 with 105 RBI. He was traded to the White Sox before the 1938 season and finished his playing career with the Red Sox in 1940. During his career, he batted .275 in 1,011 games with 1,040 hits and 31 home runs.
Owen was also a good fielder, leading American League third baseman in putouts in 1934 (202) and 1936 (190). No Tiger third baseman since 1934 has had as many putouts as Owen's 202 in 1934. Owen also led AL third basemen in fielding percentage in 1937 (.970) and in double plays in 1936 (28). Owen was involved in a career high 33 double plays at third base in 1934. His career high in assists was 305 in 1938 with the White Sox.
Owen died at age 85 in Mountain View, California, having suffered from Alzheimer's disease.
By Dean Hanley
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