Power, among first Hispanic stars, dies
Leaguer Vic Power, who enjoyed a 12-year career as one of the game's
best defensive first basemen and is the last player to steal home twice
in a game, passed away Tuesday.
A top prospect in the Yankees organization and nearly the first black player for the Bronx Bombers, Power instead made his Major League debut in 1954 following an 11-player trade that sent him from New York to the Kansas City A's. He earned the first of his four All-Star selections a year later en route to a career-best .319 average, 34 doubles, 10 triples, 19 home runs and 76 RBIs. He finished second in the batting race that year to 20-year-old Al Kaline.
Power would have his brush with history against the Tigers a few years later. Traded to the Indians midway through the 1958 season in a deal that sent future home-run king Roger Maris to Kansas City, Power put on his rare display of speed that Aug. 14 in Cleveland. He stole home in the eighth inning with Tigers pitcher Jack Fisher taking a full windup on the mound, then swiped home again in the 10th inning for the go-ahead run with the bases loaded, two outs and slugger Rocky Colavito at the plate.
Only 10 other players in the Majors' modern era have stolen home twice in one game. Though it was a rare feat for a player who stole just one other base that season and swiped 45 bases for his career, it fit his style. One story on Power said he escaped a baserunning jam by running directly at the fielder with the ball with his arms waving in the air, frustrating the fielder enough to throw the ball away without tagging him.
Though he had four .300 seasons at the plate and was among the toughest in the Majors to strike out every year, Power's most consistent talent was his glove. He won seven consecutive Gold Glove awards at first base from 1958-64, and shares the American League record by leading the league in assists among first basemen six times. His one-handed grabs with a wide, sweeping motion were a trademark in the game at the time.
Power's Cleveland tenure ended with an April 1962 trade to the Twins, whom he helped improve from 70 wins a year earlier to 91 that season. After a second season and part of a third, he closed out his career with the Phillies and Angels.
Power worked as a scout after retiring as a player, then became involved in the game in his native Puerto Rico. He managed in winter ball and helped run a baseball academy for younger players.