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The short but impressive Yankee career of Bob Seeds

“Suitcase Bob” had a brief but pretty good career in pinstripes.

Texas Rangers v New York Yankees Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

Of all Yankees with at least 40 at-bats, Bob Seeds has the ninth-highest slugging percentage at .571. Just ahead of him is Aaron Judge at .574. Just below him is Mickey Mantle at .557.

Forty at bats is a small sample size, and Seeds barely clears it with 42. Considering the rest of his major-league career, a .571 slugging percentage probably wasn’t his true talent level. Still, it’s also clear that he played pretty well as a Yankee. Yet after he did that in the 1936 season, he didn’t get a single at-bat for the team the next season. In fact, he didn’t play in the bigs at all in 1937.

Seeds got the nickname “Suitcase Bob” for his team changes throughout his career. His number of teams isn’t that impressive compared to the like of Octavio Dotel and Edwin Jackon, but Seeds also played before the advent of free agency.

He made his debut for the Indians in 1930, and played two seasons there. After a couple games in 1932, Seeds was traded to the White Sox. He had one season in Chicago before being traded to the Red Sox in the offseason prior to the 1934 season. After just eight games with Boston, he was traded back to Cleveland for another stint.

Early in 1935, Seeds was acquired by the Tigers, who stashed him in the minors. He never played a major-league game for Detroit, and spent all of 1935 and most of 1936 with the Montreal Royals, where he was hitting extremely well.

Needing someone to help fill in while Myril Hoag was dealing with an injury, the Yankees acquired Seeds in August 1936. The move worked pretty well. Seeds recorded a hit in all of his first four games as Yankees. The fourth game in that streak was a two home run game. Seeds spent the remainder of the season with the Yankees, finishing with a line of .262/.340/.571. He hit four home runs, and stole three bases in just 13 games, and was included on the World Series roster.

After dropping the first game of the 1936 World Series, the Yankees took the next three and had a chance to clinch at home in Game Five. The game eventually went into extra innings, where the Giants took the lead in the 10th. In the bottom of the inning, Bill Dickey led off with a single, and Seeds was sent in to pinch run for his first action in the series.

George Selkirk and Jake Powell both made outs, leaving the game up to Tony Lazzeri. During Lazzeri’s at bat, Seeds attempted to steal second. He was thrown out, ending the game. The Giants were now down just 3-2 in the series, and would have the remaining games of the series at home. There was some controversy on the play as to whether Giants’ second baseman Burgess Whitehead actually made contact on his tag, but the call was final.

Thankfully for Seeds, the play didn’t cost the Yankees in the end. They won game six 13-5 to clinch the championship. Seeds was unused in game six. That failed stolen base attempt would be his only action in playoff baseball in his nine-year major league career.

Despite his play down the stretch in 1936, Seeds would not make the major-league roster to start the 1937 season. He instead went to the Newark Bears of the International League. Both Seeds and the Bears went on to have great years. Seeds hit 20 home runs, and slugged over .500 in Newark, who would finish 25.5 games ahead of second place in the International League. Despite his success in the minors, the Yankees wouldn’t give Seeds another look in the majors.

In 1938, Seeds was hitting even better in Newark, but still did not get another call up. Eventually, the Giants came in for Seeds and acquired him in June. The Yankees won the World Series in both 1937 and ‘38, so they were not exactly missing Seeds. However, Seeds went on to have a couple good seasons with the Giants, so everything worked out for both sides. His Giants career finished after the 1940 season, but he continued playing in the minors for a couple more seasons.

With a threshold as low as 40 at-bats, there are some other random players in the top 10 slugging percentages in Yankees history. Glenallen Hill is first. However, for 42 at-bats, Bob Seeds put up similar numbers to Aaron Judge.


Data courtesy of the Baseball Reference Play Index