Posted by: travellinbaen | February 26, 2009

Sam Leslie

Moss Point/Pascagoula
Baseball–Memphis Chicks, New York Giants, Brooklyn Dodgers
Nickname–Sambo
Inducted–2009

Sam (Sambo) Leslie was born on July 26, 1905, in Moss Point, Mississippi. He began his professional baseball career playing for the Memphis Chicks in 1927, and in 1929 won the league batting title while still with the Chicks with a .376 average. His Major League Baseball career began October 6, 1929, when the lefty slugger joined legendary manager and Hall of Famer John McGraw’s New York Giants. During his early years with the club he saw action primarily as a pinch hitter and a reserve as he had the misfortune of playing behind longtime Giants first baseman and future Hall of Famer Bill Terry.

During the 1932 season, Leslie established a then Major League record by collecting 22 pinch hits. The record held until 1961, and to this day it remains a Giants franchise standard. He also ranks second on the team’s all-time pinch hit list with 57, just one behind the team record.  Leslie’s breakout year came in 1933 when he batted .295 with 148 hits and 73 RBI’s in 136 games while playing stints for both the Giants and the Brooklyn Dodgers.

In June 1933, Leslie was traded to the Brooklyn Dodgers in exchange for Lefty O’Doul and Watson Clark. His new manager was Casey Stengel, the Old Professor, in his first year as a major league skipper.  While with the new club, he became the starting first baseman and continued to excel at the plate batting .332 with 181 hits and 102 RBI’s during the 1934 season.  In 1935, he batted .308 with 160 hits and 93 RBI’s.

Leslie returned to the New York Giants in February 1936 in exchange for cash and proceeded to split time at first base with player-manager Bill Terry.  He was the only player to hit for the cycle in a game in 1936 and was also instrumental in helping the Giants capture the National League pennant in both the 1936 and 1937 seasons.  While the team was successful during the regular season, they lost to their cross-town rivals, the American League pennant winning New York Yankees, in the World Series both years 4-2 and 4-1 respectively.  During his final tenure with the Giants, Leslie batted .290 with 221 hits and 100 RBI’s from 1936 to 1938.

Leslie retired from professional baseball after the 1938 season and retired to Mississippi Gulf Coast and raised his family.  He closed out his major league career with a lifetime .304 batting average including 749 hits, 389 RBI’s, and 36 home runs in 822 games.  During his 10 years in the major leagues, he rubbed elbows with many legends of the game including hall of fame teammates Mel Ott, Carl Hubbell, and Bill Terry with the Giants, and Hack Wilson and Al Lopez with the Dodgers.  For his accomplishments on the field, Leslie was inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in 1968.  He passed away in 1979 at the age of 73 after a lengthy illness.

Source–Sambo’s grandson, Scott Leslie of Pascagoula, Mississippi, authored the above biography

 
Left to Right--Sam Leslie, Travis Jackson, Burgess Whitehead, Dick Bartell, Mel Ott

Left to Right--Sam Leslie, Travis Jackson, Burgess Whitehead, Dick Bartell, Mel Ott

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