John Robert Mize, nicknamed Big Jawn and The Big Cat, was an American professional baseball player and scout. He played as a first baseman in Major League Baseball for 15 seasons between 1936 and 1953, losing three seasons to military service during World War II. Mize was a ten-time All-Star who played for the St. Louis Cardinals, New York Giants, the New York Yankees. During his tenure with the Yankees, the team won five consecutive World Series. Mize retired in 1953 with a. 312 batting average. Defensively, he recorded a.992 fielding percentage as a first baseman. He served as a radio commentator and coach in the major leagues after he retired as a player, he was selected for induction to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1981. In 2014, he was inducted into the St. Louis Cardinals Hall of Fame Museum. Mize was born in Georgia to Edward and Emma Mize. After his parents separated, his mother went to Atlanta for work, but Mize remained in Demorest with his grandmother, he played on his high school baseball team.
He played baseball for Piedmont College. Mize was a distant cousin of Ty Cobb and his second cousin married Babe Ruth. Mize came up through the St. Louis Cardinals minor league system but was traded to the Cincinnati Reds in 1934. However, he suffered the Reds nullified the trade. In 1935, while struggling with one bad leg, he injured the other leg. Mize retired from baseball and returned home until the Cardinals asked him to see a physician in St. Louis, he had surgery for bone spurs. He was kept with the Cardinals in St. Louis after surgery, as he would not have been able to play that season in the minor leagues anyway; the organization thought that he might get some opportunities to pinch hit with the major league team. Mize made his major league debut for the Cardinals in 1936. In 126 games, Mize hit for a. 329 batting average, 93 runs batted in. He said, "I'm the only guy who played in the major leagues because I couldn't play in the minors." Mize was known as both "Big Jawn" and "The Big Cat" for his smooth fielding at first base.
In 1937 he batted.364. He led the league in triples and OPS in 1938. In 1939, Mize finished second in the league's Most Valuable Player voting after leading the league with a.349 average and 28 home runs. Mize's 43 home runs in 1940 set a Cardinals team record. At the end of the 1941 season, Cardinals general manager Branch Rickey, who famously believed in trading players before their skills began to decline, traded Mize to the New York Giants. In exchange for Mize, the Cardinals received Bill Lohrman, Johnny McCarthy, Ken O'Dea, $50,000. Mize was involved in a 1941 lawsuit against Gum Products Inc; the company manufactured. Mize sued because he argued that the company did not have his consent to use his image in the card set. Gum Products Inc. won the lawsuit, but the company stopped producing its Double Play series because of the expenses it incurred during the legal proceedings with Mize. The Giants pursued Mize after learning that their first baseman, Babe Young, was going to be forced into military service.
In 1942, Mize hit for his lowest batting average to that point in his career, but he hit 26 home runs and led the NL with 110 RBI. Mize spent 1943 through 1945 in military service during World War II. During his service he played for the Great Lakes Naval Station baseball team for service members and new personnel in training. Mize hit 17 home runs in 51 games and batted over.475 while manning first base for the Bluejackets, other team members included: Phil Rizzuto who belonged to the Yankees. The team was considered one of the best WWII era teams assembled. Returning to the Giants in 1946, a broken toe caused him to fall one short of the home run title, won by Ralph Kiner of the Pittsburgh Pirates. In 1947 he rebounded to tie Kiner for the league lead, he led in runs and RBI, became the only player to strike out fewer than fifty times while hitting fifty home runs. Mize's 1947 totals in runs, home runs and RBI were all career highs. In 1948, Mize and Kiner again tied for the league home run championship with 40 each.
Mize was traded to the New York Yankees late in the 1949 season after expressing discontent with his playing time. Mize spent the last five years of his career with the Yankees as a part-time player, ending in 1953, he was, considered a valuable contributor to their winning five consecutive American League pennants and World Series titles. Despite spending part of the 1950 season on minor league rehab, he hit 25 home runs to become the second player to have a 25-home run season in both leagues. In the 1952 World Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers, he hit three home runs, one as a pinch-hitter, was robbed of a fourth by Dodger right fielder Carl Furillo, who made a leaping catch above the fence in the 11th inning to preserve a win for the Dodgers. In October 1953, Mize announced his retirement, he said that he would rather retire while he was still popular with fans than to "hang around until they start to boo." Mize holds the major league record for the most times hitting three homers in one game, a feat he performed six times.
He was one of a handful of players to do it in both leagues — five times in the National League and once in the American. He was the first player to hit three home runs in a game twice in one season in 1938 and did it
Gregory's General Store is an exhibit at the Black Country Living Museum. It once occupied numbers 89 & 90 Lawrence Lane, Old Hill, was rebuilt on the museum site in 1980, it is set as it would have been in 1925. Gregory's was a pair of houses built on Lawrence Lane, Old Hill, in 1883 by Charles Gregory, an iron worker. In the early 1900s the houses were converted to a double fronted shop with living accommodation up stairs for the family; the two houses were separated by a central tunnel or'entry' to the back garden. When it operated as a general store, Gregory's held a wide variety of stock and fresh produce; this was served from the right hand counter, included. The left hand counter sold various other items including sweets, clothes and haberdashery items; the middle counter sold groceries and green grocery, however most of the fruit and vegetables would have been displayed outside the shop. Fruit and vegetable would have been available on a seasonal basis, not all fruit and veg would be available all the time like we are used to today.
Gregory's General Store catered for those on low wages allowing eggs to be sold individually and half loaves to be brought. Common essential items like tea and butter would be sold by the penny's worth. Mrs Gregory allowed customers to have items on the tick, meaning that she would give them the items on the basis that they would pay her when they received their wages, she would write what each customer owed in a book and tick their names off after they had paid her, hence the phrase'on the tick'