Samuel Mack Meeks
Born: April 23, 1923 in Anderson, S.C.
Died: April 23, 2007 in Memphis, Tenn.
Debut: 1948 | Pos: SS
H: 5'9" | W: 160 | B: R | T: R
>> Visit the Sammy Meeks biography on Baseball Almanac for complete statistics.
Sammy Meeks, a shortstop who was born in Anderson, S.C., seemed to be in the driver's seat for the shortstop job with the Washington Nationals coming out of Spring Training in 1948. However, he just couldn't keep hold of the job.
Sammy -- or just Sam as he was referred to in some accounts -- Meeks hit .348 for Charlotte in 1947 and he was playing for Chattanooga during an exhibition game on March 25, 1948 when he caught the eye of Washington's Clark Griffith. A day later, he collected two hits for Washington in an exhibition game against Birmingham.
His problems, however, seemed to start for shortstop as the team made its way back to Washington. As was the tradition of the time, teams leaving Spring Training would often play a series of exhibition games as they worked their ways back home.
On April 14, 1948, the Nationals and the Phillies were facing off against each other in Charlotte, N.C. and Meeks, who had started at shortstop for Washington, committed an error during the fifth inning -- an inning that saw the Phillies score fives. The next day, Meeks' fielding troubles continued. In a game between the same two teams, this time in Winston-Salem, N.C., Meeks committed three errors. He also finished the game without a hit -- his third straight contest with the same result.
Meeks, however, did have an excuse for the problems. According to a Washington Post report, Meeks had a badly bruised hand and the injury was so severe that he was wrapping a sponge around the handle of his bat to try to "deaden the shock."
His first official major league game came on April 29, 1948, but Meeks found little success with Washington that season. He hit just .121 that season in 24 games -- just four hits in 33 at-bats. On May 14, 1948, Washington purchased the contract of Carden Gillenwater to add some depth and Washington Post reports from the time pointed to Meeks as the person who would lose a spot on the roster. He returned to Charlotte and found his stroke again at the plate. He was hitting .318 for Charlotte by the end of the season and received a call up to Washington.
He was back in the minor leagues in 1949, but he was finding some success at the plate. While playing for Syracuse, Meeks had a string of three games where he hit four home runs in early July.
Later that season, he was back in the major leagues -- this time with Cincinnati. on Sept. 22, 1949, in a double-header against the Giants, Meeks hit a home run off Montia Kennedy in the sixth inning of the first game. He followed that up in the second inning with a two-run shot off Andy Tomasic. He hit just two home runs that season.
He played in 39 games for the Reds in 1950, a career high. He hit .284 with a home run and eight RBI in 95 at-bats that season. He appeared in just 23 games for the Reds in 1951 and hit just .229 with 2 RBI.
The rest of his career was played in the minor leagues and includes stops in Toledo, Buffalo, Mobile and Chattanooga. One of his highlights came on May 5, 1954 when he connected on five hits in five at-bats for the Bisons.
As a minor league player with Chattanooga in the late 1950s, he provided testimony that led to the suspension of Jesse Levan for allegedly trying to fix games. Levan was suspended for life and teammate Waldo Gonzales received a one-year suspension for alleged involvement as a "go-between for gamblers seeking to fix games."
According to a New York Times article, "Meeks testified that Levan had offered him a deal in Mobile, when Meeks was a player-coach for the Mobile club. Meeks later was released and signed with Chattanooga as a player."
No action was taken against Meek for not reporting the scheme earlier, according to the story.
Following his career in baseball, he worked with Shoney's Restaurants in Memphis, Tenn. He died on April 23, 2007 in Memphis, Tenn.
Washington Post, April 15, 1948.
Washington Post, April 16, 1948.
Washington Post, May 14, 1948.
Washington Post, Sept. 3, 1948.
"Jerseys Whip Syracuse", New York Times, July 22, 1949. P. 25
"Giants Triumph over Reds" New York Times. Sept. 23, 1949. P. 31.
"Ballplayer suspended for life on charge of aiding fix tries," New York Times, July 31, 1959, p. 15