Gil Coan Washington Senators Outfielder

Gil Coan May 29, 1948

Gil Coan 5 29 1948

Gil Coan turned 91 on May 18, 2013. The North Carolina native started his major league career in Washington in 1946 at the age of 24.

The speedy left fielder had a few good seasons on some unspectacular Washington Senators teams. Though he hit only .254 for his career, Coan finished in the top ten in stolen bases in the American League six times and hit .303 in consecutive seasons, 1950 and 1951.

No one could possibly foresee that the trade Gil Coan was involved in would turn out to be one of the most one-sided in baseball history. On February 18, 1954 Roy Sievers of the St. Louis Browns (who moved to Baltimore to become the Orioles starting in 1954) was traded straight up for Coan.

Many fans and pundits thought that Washington was receiving the short end of the stick.

After starting his career on a grand scale by winning the Rookie of the Year Award in 1949,  Sievers had in 1951 separated his shoulder and in 1952 dislocated his arm. Sievers playing time and production had tapered off considerably in the five seasons he had spent with the Browns. By 1953 he was a part-time player. Then the trade happened.

Sievers regained the strength in his arm doing construction work in Washington, and the Senators were the beneficiaries. Sievers put up these numbers:

Year

G

AB

H

2B

3B

HR

RBI

BA

1954

145

514

119

26

6

24

102

.232

1955

144

509

138

20

8

25

106

.271

1956

152

550

139

27

2

29

95

.253

1957

152

572

172

23

5

42

114

.301

1958

148

550

162

18

1

39

108

.295

1959

115

385

93

19

0

21

49

.242

Coan’s fortunes after the trade were not so bright. Coan hit only 3 home runs and drove in 31 runs over the next three years. He bounced around from the Orioles, to the White Sox and then on to the New York Giants and was out of the big leagues after the 1956 season at age 34.

After his baseball career ended Coan started an insurance company in Brevard, North Carolina which after his retirement in 1986 is still run by his son and grandson. Coan’s alma mater, Brevard College named its baseball park Gil Coan Field.

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