Last year, Juan Soto had an incredible set of games and arguably could’ve been named MVP of the World Series at the age of 20/21.
While that’s not unheard of, it’s pretty rare. Andruw Jones famously had a two home run game as a 19-year-old against the Yankees in 1996. Mickey Mantle was just 20 when he would’ve had a good argument to win World Series MVP in 1952 if the award existed back then. It wasn’t even the first he played in either.
However, none of those guys are the youngest player to ever play in a World Series. That distinction belongs to Hall of Famer Freddie Lindstrom who played for the 1924 Giants in a losing effort against the Senators. The second youngest is a Yankee, although it’s not necessarily a name you would expect.
Born in Jamaica, Queens, Tom Carroll was signed by the Yankees out of Notre Dame in January 1955. He wouldn’t have been at college long as the youngster was still just 18, and wouldn’t be 19 until September.
Carroll’s signing bonus exceeded $4000 dollars, making him a bonus baby. From 1947 to 1965, if a team signed a player to a bonus exceeding the aforementioned amount, he had to be placed on the major league roster. Among the players that fell into this category were Sandy Koufax and Harmon Killebrew. However, there were also plenty of others that weren’t as successful, as they were being used sparingly in the majors instead of developing somewhere in the minors. Carroll was more in that second group.
In his rookie season, Carroll was used almost exclusively as a pinch runner. He did not play the field until July 2nd, his fifth career game. On that day, he came in to play shortstop in the ninth with the Yankees already up 12-0. His first at-bat didn’t come until September 25th. That was a doubleheader on the final day of the season after the AL had already been clinched. He stepped to the plate six times in total that day and recorded his first two major league hits, both singles.
Carroll’s only appearances in the field were at shortstop, where the Yankees had two experienced players ahead of him. While neither had particularly great hitting years, it was going to be tough for an 18-year-old to surpass a legend in Phil Rizzuto, or Billy Hunter, who was part of the massive trade that also brought Don Larsen and Bob Turley to the Yankees. Thus, Carroll didn’t get a ton of playing time. Plus, with the bullpens being not quite as important and well-stocked, it was easy to hide someone on the bench.
The Yankees advanced to play the Dodgers in that year’s World Series, and Carroll was included on the roster. The Yankees took two of the first three games, but were trailing in the sixth inning of Game Four.
With the score 7-4, the Yankees sent Eddie Robinson up as a pinch hitter in the pitcher’s spot. He singled to score a run, but Carroll was then sent in to pinch run for him. The rookie was officially 19 years and 14 days old when he came in, making him the second youngest player in World Series history. He was about two months older than Lindstrom would’ve been when he played in Game One of the 1924 World Series. Carroll was stranded at first as the next two hitters made outs. He was replaced by a pitcher as the Yankees went on to lose the game.
The next day, Carroll was again sent in to pinch run for Robinson late in a game the Yankees were losing. The Dodgers led 4-3 when the 19-year-old came in. Billy Martin proceeded to then ground into a double play to end the inning. Carroll was again replaced before the next half inning as the Yankees lost.
The team would win Game Six, but the Dodgers won the series in seven. Carroll didn’t play in either of the other two games in the series.
The following season, Carroll played a little more, but in a similar role. In 1956, Carroll played in 36 games, but came to the plate just 18 times. After two years playing exclusively in the majors, the Yankees had him play 1957 in the minors. He spent two seasons there and put up okay stats, but wasn’t knocking the cover off the ball.
In April 1959, Carroll was included in a trade with the Kansas City Athletics. He played 14 games for them, but struggled and didn’t end up sticking with them. While he won’t be the only person to have had their major league career end at age 22, he has to be one of just a few to have had their career end at that age, four years after their debut.
All stats and game information courtesy of Baseball Reference.