The 1944 Washington Senators were not a very good team. They finished last in the American League, 25 games in back of the St. Louis Browns. Bad enough you finish last, but you finish last to the St. Louis Browns? That’s got to hurt.
Manager Ossie Bluege took it all in stride and returned in 1945 to try to turn things around. Inexplicably, at least to the Washington fans, and the rest of the American League, the Senators found themselves in a pennant race with the Detroit Tigers, holding down 2nd place for most of the season. On September 23rd, because of a Tiger loss, the Senators needed to sweep the Philadelphia A’s in a season ending doubleheader to move into a virtual tie for 1st.
In the 1st game the Senators and pitcher Dutch Leonard took a 3-0 lead into the bottom of the 8th. Unfortunately the 1st 2 A’s batters reached on errors, and when the dust cleared the game was tied at 3-3.
In the bottom of the 12th with 2 outs and the bases empty, Ernie Kish lifted a lazy flyball into centerfield, the Senator’s outfielder, sans sunglasses, lost the ball in the bright sun, allowing the ball to drop for a double. George Kell then stroked a game winning single denying the Senators a win. The Senators rebounded to win the 2nd game, but it wasn’t enough. The Tigers took the AL pennant by 1.5 games. A Senator win in game #1 would have forced the Tigers to make up an earlier rainout, with a loss setting up a playoff to decide the pennant, denying the Senators a chance at going from last to 1st in the American League.
The name of the Senator centerfielder that failed to don his sunglasses: 30 year old rookie Bingo Binks. Why did it have to be Bingo?
Bingo Binks actually had a pretty good season leading the Senators with 81 rbis, and 32 doubles, while finishing 21st in the MVP voting. Bingo Binks played just 3 more seasons in the Majors. After hitting .194 for the Senators in 1946, he was traded to the A’s. After playing in just 32 games in 1948 with the A’s and the Browns he was released in July of 1948.
George Bingo Binks died on 11/13/2010 in Woodbury, Tennessee at the age of 96. George Binks received the moniker of Bingo because of his ability to hit in the clutch. Bingo Binks played minor league ball for the Wilkes-Barre Barons of the Eastern League in 1938, not far from this humble Pennsylvania blogger.
A player named Bingo Binks deserves to catch that fly ball in the sun. Bingo Binks deserved a chance to play centerfield in a sun soaked World Series game. Call it bad luck, fate, or a divine baseball providence, this should not have happened to a ballplayer named Bingo Binks.
With this post I honor the memory of Bingo Binks. I honor his short major league career, I honor his long life, and I honor a wonderful baseball name. Thank you Bingo Binks.