Chet Laabs

Chester Peter Laabs (April 30, 1912 – January 26, 1983) was an American outfielder in Major League Baseball who played from 1937 through 1947 for the Detroit Tigers (1937–39), St. Louis Browns (1939–46) and Philadelphia Athletics (1947). Listed at 5 ft 8 in (1.73 m), 175 lb., he batted and threw right-handed.

Laabs was a .262 hitter with 117 home runs and 509 RBI in 950 games.

A native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Laabs played 11 major league seasons. Laabs produced a strikeout, walk or home run every 3.48 plate appearances; his career on-base percentage (.346) was almost 100 points higher than his batting average, and he posted a 0.653 walk-to-strikeout ratio (389-for-595). On October 2, 1938, he struck out for the fifth time that day, which was the 18th of the game for Bob Feller, the future Hall of Fame pitcher of the Cleveland Indians. It gave Feller a nine-inning game major league record. The current record of 20 is shared by Roger Clemens (twice, in 1986 and 1996) and Kerry Wood (1998).

Laabs enjoyed his most productive season in 1942, when he posted career highs in RBI (99) and runs (90), and finished second in the American League with 27 home runs (also a career high), behind Ted Williams (36).

An All-Star in 1943, Laabs helped the Browns win their only pennant in 1944, by hitting two home runs against the Yankees to clinch the pennant on the season's last day.

Laabs died in Warren, Michigan at the of age 70.

By Dean Hanley

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