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Matty Alou: 1938-2011

Nov 3, 2011, 1:00 PM EST

Matty Alou

Sad news: Matty Alou has died. He was 72. No cause of death was given. An overdose of being a really awesome and underrated contact hitter is being investigated.

Alou, as most folks know, was part of what — with a nod to the DiMaggios — was arguably the most successful trio of brothers in baseball history. The Alous had more hits, actually, for what that’s worth.  In 1966 Matty won the batting title and his brother Felipe came in second. NL pitchers of the 1960s probably had Alou nightmares on a regular basis.

In 1969 he led the NL in at bats, hits and doubles, but Alou’s best season may have actually been 1968. He didn’t win the batting crown or lead the league in anything that year, but he posted an OPS+ of 130 and hit .332 in the worst overall offensive season since the dead ball era.  A lot of guys were amazing that year without anyone really knowing it due to the extreme pitcher-friendly context.

Adios Matty. Hopefully your passing inspires some people who don’t know much about the very good players of the 1960s to read up.

  1. blueintown - Nov 3, 2011 at 1:07 PM

    “An overdose of being a really awesome and underrated contact hitter is being investigated.”

    Eww. What a weird thing to write.

    • sonoco - Nov 3, 2011 at 1:28 PM

      Yeah, kinda odd. No big deal, but unnecessarily flippant in my opinion.

      • lyon810 - Nov 3, 2011 at 1:33 PM

        yes, flippant

      • Old Gator - Nov 4, 2011 at 9:46 AM

        Flippant? Maybe he wrote it on porpoise.

    • tekton8 - Nov 3, 2011 at 1:38 PM

      yuck… I guess that’s a compliment if one can overlook the unfortunate and vaguely slanderous use of the word “overdose”. Thought I was reading the Onion for a second…

    • vanmorrissey - Nov 3, 2011 at 3:04 PM

      No, Craig was merely praising an underrated hitter and his brothers, Jesus and Felipe. Felipe was awesome and Jesus did the neck exercises before hitting. Just an awesome hitting family.

    • bbk1000 - Nov 3, 2011 at 5:02 PM

      yea weird, but if he’s the bald Buddy Holly wannabe on MSNBC it makes sense….he’s out there a bit…a strange way for a non family member to write about someone who has passed away….

    • purnellmeagrejr - Nov 4, 2011 at 7:28 AM

      yeah, Craig – death – like Wu Tang Clan – ain’t nuthin’ to f. with.

  2. acdc363 - Nov 3, 2011 at 1:12 PM

    I overdose on being awesome everytime I drink

  3. cur68 - Nov 3, 2011 at 1:14 PM

    Dang, sad to see this. Since I too am a middle son, I always like Matty best of the Alou’s (Rojas, actually; another case of Dominican name changing here folks. This time I think it wasn’t his fault, though. Someone in MLB screwed it up). Happy trails Matty, you were an inspiration to middle born kids everywhere…

    • Jonny 5 - Nov 3, 2011 at 2:03 PM

      Ohhhh, of course, and I bet you like Jose Molina best too then??? How convenient…..

      • cur68 - Nov 3, 2011 at 4:18 PM

        Yup.

      • spudchukar - Nov 3, 2011 at 11:08 PM

        Jonny, generally I deal with your comments, which often I do not agree with, but still recognize as credible, however, unless I missing something here, this is crass.

  4. natstowngreg - Nov 3, 2011 at 1:37 PM

    Thanks for the note. Back in the day, as a Pirates fan with unusually good reception, I saw Matty play on TV a lot. Basically, he just swung at the ball, and usually made contact. I saw him get hits on fastballs at eye level. In his batting championship season of 1966, he walked only 24 times, but only struck out 44 times (the most Ks he had in one season).

    Farewell, Matty.

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/players/a/alouma01.shtml

  5. 78mu - Nov 3, 2011 at 1:42 PM

    Alou was never going to make anyone forget Ted Williams but he was a fun player to watch. He had that big bat and choked way up just trying to make contact and not hit home runs. Of course he was very successful at hitting the ball as well as not hitting home runs.

    Someone at the Cardinals had the brilliant idea of putting a 5’9″ 700 OPS slap hitter at first base. Somehow the nickname Big Mat never stuck.

    R.I.P. Matty. Despite playing for the Pirates you were one of the great guys of my childhood baseball memories.

    • florida76 - Nov 3, 2011 at 2:04 PM

      Looking at Alou’s numbers, I didn’t realize he saw considerably more action with the Bucs than anyone else. Terrific player, had the bad luck of being traded to St. Louis after the 1970 season, missing out on starting for the ’71 World Champs. Bucs had a better replacement in Al Oliver, plus they obtained Nelson Briles in the deal, so it was a no-brainer. At least Alou was on a champion(in a reserve role), with the 1972 A’s.

  6. theonlynolan - Nov 3, 2011 at 2:56 PM

    The Delahanty brothers had a pretty good run in the early 1900s. All 5 of them.

  7. cshearing - Nov 3, 2011 at 3:43 PM

    All I know of the Alou family came in the form of Felipe managing the Expos, with his son Moises playing the outfield. I am (a little) too young to remember much of the brothers’ playing days.

    Always had a lot of respect for how the Alou’s handled themselves and their obvious passion for the game. Condolences to the family.

  8. buddaley - Nov 3, 2011 at 8:29 PM

    Wasn’t the story that when he came to the Pirates, Harry Walker convinced him to swing down on the ball so as to hit ground balls through the infield or use his speed to get on base?

    I remember when he came to the Yankees that he often batted 3rd, and it seemed that he never could drive the runner in from 2B. It is possible that my memory is faulty and focusing on anecdotes as RBIs are such a slippery type of stat, but it is odd that someone getting over 300 ABs as the 3rd place hitter only had 29 RBIs all year.

    Nonetheless, he certainly had some fine years and from all I have heard was an exemplary character. Sorry to hear of his passing.

    • natstowngreg - Nov 3, 2011 at 8:58 PM

      I also recall the Harry Walker story. Forbes Field was notorious for its hard infield, and Alou lacked power, so it made sense.

  9. spudchukar - Nov 3, 2011 at 11:22 PM

    The Alou brothers paved the way for many Latin American players, and what will remain poignant is their diversity, which should dispel any stereotypical characterizations of Latin Players. They were smart Baseball players above anything else. RIP, Manny, you were perhaps the least gifted of your bros, but I sure didn’t want you coming to the plate when the game was on the line.

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