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forgotten players:THE BUZZ ABOUT BUZZ

   Russell Loris “BUZZ” Arlett only played one year in the Major Leagues. He hit .313, had 18 homeruns and knocked in 70 RBIs, but forget about that. Forget about the fact that he was such a poor fielder that despite his hitting, no one could afford to have him around in the Majors for more than one year. None of that is important. There was more to him than the above.

   Some players are destined to be in the Minors. They have a Minor League ethos and that’s where they flourish. When reaching the Majors, the talent that carried them through the Minor Leagues just doesn’t follow along with them.  The players that come to mind are Steve Bilko, Joe Hauser, Dick Stuart, Joe Bauman, Ron Nicciai. They did manage to have serviceable careers but nothing compared to their outstanding days in the Minors. There was one player who outdid them all. He spent one year with the Philadelphia Phillies and then finished the rest of his career in the International League. That player was Buzz Arlett and what an incredible Minor League career he had!

   Buzz Arlett was born in 1899 and lived in California, He started playing ball in the sandlots and in pick up games around that area. Times were not easy for his family and Buzz had to work to supp-lement the family income. Whenever he could, he would run off to play baseball and somewhere along the way he learned to become a switch hitter. It’s rumored that a family friend helped him in that area. Although he was a very good hitter, it was as a pitcher that he really excelled. He had a fine variety of pitches and could throw the ball in the low 90s. He had terrific stamina, (he was 6’ 3”, weighed 225 and was built like an Adonis). If he had any weakness at all, it was his fielding but as a pitcher he really didn’t concern himself with that at all. Later on, as a Major leaguer, (as a hitter), that would be his undoing.

   In 1918 the PacificCoast League was a powerhouse. It had reached the point where it was challenging the Majors in popularity and there was some talk about giving it Major League status. Buzz entered the PCL that year as a pitcher although he was highly thought of as a hitter as well. From 1918 to 1920 he racked up a terrific 108 wins, an average of 26 wins per year. By 1925 he was also hitting so well that it was decided to switch him to the outfield. He also played some first base and from that point on he decided to concentrate on his hitting. That came easy, his defense did not!! At best he was way below average and many times his performance in the outfield was mediocre!

   He had very little range, a so-so arm and at times it appeared as if he wasn’t trying as hard as he should. It was the lack of fielding that kept him in the Minor Leagues all that time. In 1931 the talent starved Phillies decided to give him a chance. At this point Arlett was 32 years old. His Milnor League record had been terrific as a hitter and it was thought that perhaps his fielding deficiencies could be hidden. They couldn’t! It was found that he was losing more games with his glove than he was winning with his bat. Since he was approaching 33 at the time, Philadelphia decided to send him back to the minors. He stayed there compiling some awesome statistics and retired in 1937.

   While he was with Baltimore in the International League, he accomplished something no professional ballplayer has equaled since. In two separate games during that one season, he knocked out four homeruns each. Although the records are not clear, it has been suggested that somewhere along the line he had an additional four homerun game.

    In 1984 The Society for American Baseball Research decided to award him the title of being the most outstanding Minor League player in the history of the game. No one is near his Minor League statistics. They include a lifetime BA of .341 and 432 homeruns. In 1964 he passed away at the age of 65 and not much of a fuss was made at his death


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