Harry Strohm never played an inning of baseball in the major leagues. The Kansas City, Missouri native spent the entirety of his career, all 25 seasons, in the affiliated minor leagues. His is the sort of career that isn’t really possible nowadays. Strohm played in an era where there were more opportunities in the affiliated baseball world and a far better chance at making a living as a career minor leaguer. Sure, like every player Strohm wanted to make it to the Major League Baseball ranks. However, Strohm was able to spend his career chasing that dream while earning a decent living. Contrast that with the meatgrinder setup of the present-day minor leagues and we won’t get any other careers like Strohm’s anytime soon.
Strohm’s professional baseball career started in 1922 as a 20-year-old with the Topeka Kaws of the Southwestern League. The second baseman/third baseman ended his career in 1949 as a 47-year-old with the Lafayette Bulls of the Evangeline League. In between those dates, Strohm had 10,570 plate appearances and slashed .309/.312/.412. He had 3,229 hits, 618 doubles, 152 triples, and 53 home runs. As a general disclaimer, this does not include whole seasons in certain leagues or any of his playoff results. As good as his numbers are in some areas, it’s likely Strohm’s overall results are much better if we had a more complete picture.
The light-hitting infielder spent a number of seasons in the lower levels of the minor leagues. He excelled in those leagues, but that’s not to say he didn’t also succeed at the higher levels. He advanced as far as AA-level (this is from the old classification system where AA-level was the highest level) and was just as great at that level as he was those below. His worst season at the AA-level saw him hit for a .260 average, but in his remaining seasons, he was either at or right around the .300 mark. He was never going to hit for much power, but Strohm was going to hit and that’s exactly what he did for the entirety of his career.
Taking the skill level of the league into account with Strohm’s results the best season of his career took place in 1928. That season he manned the hot corner for the American Association’s Milwaukee Brewers. In 695 plate appearances, the diminutive infielder slashed .323/.357/.445 with 202 hits, 40 of which were doubles. While he would never reach those heights again, it is a perfect encapsulation of Strohm’s career. He hit, a lot, and just kept on hitting from his first game to his last. That’s how things stayed for Strohm right up until his last near full time season when he hit .347 in 265 at-bats at the age of 46 for the D-level Bulls in the aforementioned EVAN.
There are limitations to what we know about Strohm as well as in his competition. Not that he mainly played in the lower minor leagues, but that he was competing in segregated white leagues. That is a mark against him, but I still feel that all things considered ending his career with 3,229 hits makes him one of the all-time greats outside of MLB. Strohm spent 25 seasons being as consistent as can be. He never made it to the big leagues but he ended up with big results regardless. That’s a career worth celebrating because as I love to tell people, there’s more to professional baseball than what happens in MLB.
Lead photo courtesy of Unknown – The Sporting News