Tom Veryzer

Last updated
Tom Veryzer
Tom Veryzer 1975.jpg
Born:(1953-02-11)February 11, 1953
Port Jefferson, New York
Died: July 8, 2014(2014-07-08) (aged 61)
Islip, New York
Batted: RightThrew: Right
MLB debut
August 14, 1973, for the Detroit Tigers
Last MLB appearance
September 30, 1984, for the Chicago Cubs
MLB statistics
Batting average .241
Home runs 14
Runs batted in 231

Thomas Martin Veryzer (February 11, 1953 – July 8, 2014) was an American baseball shortstop. He played 12 years in Major League Baseball, appearing in 979 games for the Detroit Tigers (1973-1977), Cleveland Indians (1978-1981), New York Mets (1982), and Chicago Cubs (1983-1984). He ranked third in the American League in 1977 with a range factor of 5.16 per nine innings at shortstop. [1] His career range factor of 4.841 per nine innings at shortstop ranks as the 25th best in Major League history. [2]

Baseball Sport

Baseball is a bat-and-ball game played between two opposing teams who take turns batting and fielding. The game proceeds when a player on the fielding team, called the pitcher, throws a ball which a player on the batting team tries to hit with a bat. The objectives of the offensive team are to hit the ball into the field of play, and to run the bases—having its runners advance counter-clockwise around four bases to score what are called "runs". The objective of the defensive team is to prevent batters from becoming runners, and to prevent runners' advance around the bases. A run is scored when a runner legally advances around the bases in order and touches home plate. The team that scores the most runs by the end of the game is the winner.

Shortstop defensive position in baseball and softball played on the left side of the infield between second and third bases

Shortstop, abbreviated SS, is the baseball or softball fielding position between second and third base, which is considered to be among the most demanding defensive positions. Historically the position was assigned to defensive specialists who were typically poor at batting and were often placed at the bottom of the batting order. Today shortstops are often able to hit well and many are placed at the top of the lineup. In the numbering system used by scorers to record defensive plays, the shortstop is assigned the number 6.

Major League Baseball Professional baseball league

Major League Baseball (MLB) is a professional baseball organization, and the oldest of the four major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada. A total of 30 teams play in the National League (NL) and American League (AL), with 15 teams in each league. The NL and AL were formed as separate legal entities in 1876 and 1901 respectively. After cooperating but remaining legally separate entities beginning in 1903, the leagues merged into a single organization led by the Commissioner of Baseball in 2000. The organization also oversees Minor League Baseball, which comprises 256 teams affiliated with the Major League clubs. With the World Baseball Softball Confederation, MLB manages the international World Baseball Classic tournament.


Early years

Veryzer was born in Port Jefferson, New York, in 1953. He attended Islip High School in Islip, New York. [3] In high school, he played shortstop for Islip's baseball team and compiled a .467 batting average. [4] He also played soccer and basketball at Islip where his father was the athletic director and basketball coach. [5]

Port Jefferson, New York Village in New York, United States

Port Jefferson is an incorporated village in the Town of Brookhaven in Suffolk County, New York on the North Shore of Long Island. Officially known as the Incorporated Village of Port Jefferson, the population was 7,750 as of the 2010 United States Census.

Islip High School

Islip High School is the public high school in Islip, in Suffolk County, New York on the South Shore of Long Island. The principal is Mr. Michael Mosca and the assistant principals are Mr. Curtis Juengerkes and Ms. Lisa Ward. The complete lists of current and past graduates, Regents exam scores, and other important information can be found on the New York State School Information Report Comprehensive School Report, as well as on, as current as the 2010-2011 school year.

Islip, New York Town in New York, United States

Islip is one of ten towns in Suffolk County, New York (USA). Located on the South Shore of Long Island, the town population was 335,543 at the 2010 census. Within the Town of Islip is a smaller, unincorporated hamlet and census-designated place also named Islip.

Professional baseball

Minor leagues

Veryzer was drafted by the Detroit Tigers in the first round (eleventh pick overall) of the 1971 Major League Baseball Draft. He signed a bonus contract with the Tigers in June 1971. [4] His older brother, James, had been drafted by the Kansas City Athletics in the 49th round of the 1967 Major League Baseball Draft, [6] but had also moved to the Tigers' organization by 1971 as well.

Detroit Tigers Baseball team and Major League Baseball franchise in Detroit, Michigan, United States of America

The Detroit Tigers are an American professional baseball team based in Detroit, Michigan. The Tigers compete in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member of the American League (AL) Central division. One of the AL's eight charter franchises, the club was founded in Detroit as a member of the minor league Western League in 1894 and is the only Western League team still in its original city. They are the oldest continuous one name, one city franchise in the AL. The Tigers have won four World Series championships, 11 AL pennants, and four AL Central division championships. The Tigers also won division titles in 1972, 1984, and 1987 as a member of the AL East. The team currently plays its home games at Comerica Park in Downtown Detroit.

Veryzer played for the Bristol Tigers upon graduating from high school in 1971. He batted just .225 with four home runs and 20 RBIs, but his defensive play earned him Appalachian League MVP honors. [5] [7] He was promoted to the Montgomery Rebels in the Southern League in 1972 where he hit .220. [3]

The Appalachian League of Professional Baseball is a Rookie-class Minor League Baseball league that began play in 1911. It operated as a Class D league (1911–1914), (1921–1925), (1937–1955) and (1957–1962) before becoming a Rookie league in 1963. Teams are located in the Appalachian regions of Virginia, North Carolina, West Virginia and Tennessee. The league's season starts in June, after major league teams have signed players they selected in the annual amateur draft, and ends in September.

The Montgomery Rebels was the name of several American minor league baseball franchises representing Montgomery, Alabama, playing in various leagues between 1912 and 1980. Rebels was the predominant nickname of the Montgomery teams, but it was not the original moniker, and it was one of several used by the city's 20th century professional baseball teams, which began play in organized baseball in 1903. Others included the Billikens, Bombers, Capitals, Climbers, Grays, Lambs, Lions and Senators.

Southern League may refer to one of the following professional baseball leagues in the United States:

During spring training in 1973, Veryzer received acclaim for his potential. A Detroit scout predicted that Veryzer would be the greatest shortstop since Honus Wagner. A Chicago scout predicted he would be one of the five greatest shortstops of all time. Detroit manager Billy Martin called Veryzer "the best looking young shortstop I've ever seen." [8] Despite the acclaim, Veryzer began the 1973 season with the Toledo Mud Hens of the International League where he raised his batting average to .250. [5]

Billy Martin American baseball player and manager

Alfred Manuel Martin Jr., commonly called "Billy", was an American Major League Baseball second baseman and manager who, in addition to leading other teams, was five times the manager of the New York Yankees. First known as a scrappy infielder who made considerable contributions to the championship Yankee teams of the 1950s, he then built a reputation as a manager who would initially make bad teams good, before ultimately being fired amid dysfunction. In each of his stints with the Yankees he managed them to winning records before being fired by team owner George Steinbrenner or resigning under fire, usually amid a well-publicized scandal such as Martin's involvement in an alcohol-fueled fight.

The Toledo Mud Hens are a professional Minor League Baseball team based in Toledo, Ohio. The Mud Hens play in the International League and are affiliated with the Detroit Tigers franchise of Major League Baseball, based about 50 miles (80 km) north of Toledo. They play their home games at Fifth Third Field.

International League Minor League Baseball league of AAA teams operating in the eastern United States

The International League (IL) is a Minor League Baseball league that operates in the eastern United States and is headquartered in Dublin, Ohio. Like the Pacific Coast League and the Mexican League, it plays at the Triple-A level, which is one step below Major League Baseball.

Detroit Tigers

In August 1973, Veryzer was called up by the Tigers. [9] At age 20, he was the sixth youngest player in the American League when he was called up. [3] With Ed Brinkman at shortstop, Veryzer saw little playing time in 1973; he batted .300 (six for 20) and had an RBI single off the Minnesota Twins' Dave Goltz in his first major league at-bat. [10]

Edwin Albert Brinkman was an American professional baseball player, coach and scout. He played for 15 seasons in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a shortstop, most notably for the Washington Senators and the Detroit Tigers. Brinkman led the American League in games played twice, won a Gold Glove Award at shortstop, and had a career batting average of .224. He was named to the American League All-Star team in 1973.

In baseball, a single is the most common type of base hit, accomplished through the act of a batter safely reaching first base by hitting a fair ball and getting to first base before a fielder puts him out. As an exception, a batter-runner reaching first base safely is not credited with a single when an infielder attempts to put out another runner on the first play; this is one type of a fielder's choice. Also, a batter-runner reaching first base on a play due to a fielder's error trying to put him out at first base or another runner out is not credited with a single.

Minnesota Twins Baseball team and Major League Baseball franchise in Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States

The Minnesota Twins are an American professional baseball team based in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The team competes in the Central division of the American League (AL), and is named after the Twin Cities area comprising Minneapolis and St. Paul. The franchise was originated in 1894 as the Kansas City Blues in the Western League and elevated to Major League status in 1901, the year the team moved to Washington, D.C. and became the Washington Senators. The team relocated again to Minnesota and was renamed the Twins at the start of the 1961 season. The Twins played in Metropolitan Stadium from 1961 to 1981 and the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome from 1982 to 2009. The team played its inaugural game at Target Field on April 12, 2010. The franchise won the World Series in 1924 as the Senators, and in 1987 and 1991 as the Twins.

Veryzer returned to the minor leagues in 1974 season, batting .296 in 223 at bats with the Evansville Triplets. [3] In August, 1974, he was again called up by the Tigers when the team dealt Jim Northrup to the Montreal Expos. [11] On September 20, 1974, he hit a two run home run in the second inning to give the Tigers a 2-1 lead. After the Tigers surrendered the lead, he hit an RBI single in the seventh to tie the game back up. In all, he went three-for-four with a home run, two walks and four runs batted in. [12]

The Tigers traded Brinkman in November 1974, [13] and Veryzer became the Tigers' starting shortstop in 1975, appearing in 128 games at the position. [3] On June 8, 1975, he doubled with two out in the ninth inning to break-up a no-hitter by Ken Holtzman. [14] For the season, he batted .252 with five home runs and 48 RBIs (both career highs) while also hitting thirteen doubles to be named the shortstop on the Topps Rookie All-Star team. However, his 24 errors at short were fourth highest in the league.

Injuries limited Veryzer to 97 games in 1976. [15] He returned healthy in 1977, but a horrible month of May (.093 batting average, five RBIs and two errors on the field) caused him to lose playing time to Mark Wagner and Chuck Scrivener. The three combined to bat .174 with three home runs and 33 RBIs while committing 26 errors. In December 1977, Veryzer was dealt to the Cleveland Indians for outfielder Charlie Spikes, [16] opening the door for Alan Trammell to assume the starting shortstop job in Detroit for the next 16 years.

Cleveland Indians

Larvell Blanks won the starting shortstop job out of Spring training 1978, but inconsistent fielding led to his being replaced by Veryzer at the start of May. With Duane Kuiper at second and Buddy Bell at third, the Indians boasted one of the better fielding infields in the American League, however, light hitting relegated them to a sixth-place finish in the American League East. For his part, Veryzer batted .271 with one home run and 32 RBIs. His most memorable moment of the season may have come on September 13 when he drove in the winning run of the Indians' 2-1 victory over the Boston Red Sox with a successful suicide squeeze bunt, [17] knocking the Red Sox out of first place.

His offensive numbers slumped to .220 with no home runs and 34 RBIs, but he had his finest season with the glove in 1979. Veryzer figured in ninety double plays while logging a career high .974 fielding percentage in a career high 702 chances. Tendinitis caused Veryzer to miss two weeks at the start of June, [18] and a month of play in the second half of the 1980 season. He was at his best when healthy, however, batting .271 and putting up a .971 fielding percentage.

Likewise, injuries caused Veryzer to miss two weeks toward the end of the 1981 season. [19] On May 15, 1981, Veryzer made a brilliant play on an Alfredo Griffin ground ball up the middle to record the first out of the day's match-up with the Toronto Blue Jays. From there, Indians pitcher Len Barker retired the next 26 batters he faced for the first perfect game in the majors since 1968. [20]

New York Mets

In January 1982, Veryzer was traded to the New York Mets for pitcher Ray Searage. [21] Veryzer competed with Ron Gardenhire for the starting shortstop role with Gardenhire winning the spot. Veryzer appeared in only 16 games at shortstop for the Mets, though he also filled in for 26 games at second base. He was batting .333 on June 1 when Claudell Washington ran into him trying to break up a double play. Veryzer sustained a clean break in the left fibula, ending his season. [22]

Chicago Cubs

In April 1983, Veryzer was traded to the Chicago Cubs for two minor league pitchers. [23] With Larry Bowa at short and Ryne Sandberg beginning his Hall of Fame career at second, Veryzer saw very little playing time with the Cubs. In two seasons with the Cubs, he made just 175 plate appearances, batting .198. However, playing with the Cubs allowed him to reach the post-season for the only time in his career in his final season. He appeared in three of the five games of the 1984 National League Championship Series as a late inning defensive replacement, logging his only career post-season at-bat in game four. He popped out to Garry Templeton in foul territory. [24]


With former 1982 Major League Baseball Draft number one overall draft pick Shawon Dunston ready to make the jump to the majors, Bowa was reduced to a reserve role in 1985, and Veryzer was cut during Spring training. [25] He ended his career having played in 996 Major League games, with a career batting average of .241, 687 hits, 231 RBIs, and 14 home runs.


Veryzer died on July 8, 2014 after suffering a stroke the previous week. He was survived by his wife Vivian, and children Tom Jr., Billy and Jennie. [26]

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  2. "Career Leaders & Records for Range Factor/9Inn as SS". Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved June 13, 2019.
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  4. 1 2 "Tigers Sign Prep For Hefty Bonus". The Lansing State Journal. June 16, 1971. p. 1E via
  5. 1 2 3 Red Foley (July 15, 1979). "Tom Veryzer is a diamond on the court". New York Daily News. p. B60 via
  6. "James Veryzer".
  7. "#276 Tom Veryzer". 1980 Topps Baseball Card Project. May 12, 2010.
  8. "Tigers Tout Veryzer As a Future Great". Detroit Free Press. pp. 1D, 6D via
  9. Jim Hawkins (August 11, 1973). "Tigers Cut Reese, Bring Up Veryzer". Detroit Free Press. p. 2D via
  10. "Minnesota Twins 12, Detroit Tigers 1". August 14, 1973.
  11. "Old Tigers Sent Packing as Detroit Cleans House". Vancouver Sun . August 8, 1974.
  12. "Detroit Tigers 8, Milwaukee Brewers 5". September 20, 1974.
  13. "Colbert to Tigers in 8-Player Swap". Bangor Daily News . November 19, 1974.
  14. "Oakland A's 4, Detroit Tigers 0". June 8, 1975.
  15. "Rodriguez Out for Year". Ludington Daily News. August 27, 1976.
  16. "Ben Oglivie, Tom Veryzer Traded: Get 2 Pitchers, Outfielder". Detroit Free Press. December 10, 1977. p. 1C via
  17. "Cleveland Indians 2, Boston Red Sox 1". September 13, 1978.
  18. "Kuiper Awaits Word, Indians' Injuries Mount". Youngstown Vindicator . June 3, 1980.
  19. "Indians' Reserve Sparks Victory". Milwaukee Journal . September 3, 1981.
  20. "27 Blue Jays Up, 27 Blue Jays Down". Record-Journal . May 16, 1981.
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  23. "Veryzer goes to Cubs, Strawberry to minors". New York Daily News. April 3, 1983. p. 62.
  24. "1984 National League Championship Series, Game Four". October 6, 1984.
  25. "New Players Come; Former Stars Fade". Lewiston Journal . April 8, 1985.
  26. Paul, Tony (July 9, 2014). "Former Tigers shortstop Tom Veryzer dies at 61". Detroit News . Archived from the original on 2014-07-14. Retrieved July 9, 2014.