Joe Tepsic

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Joseph John Tepsic

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Biographical Information[edit]

Prior to his baseball career, Joe Tepsic served in the Marines during World War II, being wounded at Guadalcanal. After the war, he attended Penn State, where he played both football and baseball and also ran track. After being offered contracts by the Brooklyn Dodgers and the Pittsburgh Steelers of the NFL, he left school to sign with the Dodgers who offered him a huge bonus of $ 17,000.

He played in the majors with the Dodgers in 1946, a condition of his contract, wearing the number 32. Due to his inexperience, however, he primarily saw action as a pinch runner (his duty in 10 of his 15 games). Unfortunately, although he hardly played for the Dodgers, he was blamed for costing them the pennant. This was because, with the Dodgers locked in a tight race with the St. Louis Cardinals, general manager Branch Rickey offered Tepsic $ 1,500 if he would accept assignment to the minor leagues, thus freeing a roster spot for a more useful player. Tepsic refused stubbornly, feeling his rightful place was with the big club, and thus prevented Brooklyn from calling up veteran Chet Ross. The two teams finished the season tied with identical records and met in a three-game playoff to decide who would represent the National League in the World Series. The Dodgers lost the playoff, and a number of Brooklyn players thought they would have won the pennant outright had they had Ross on the roster. As a result, they voted Tepsic only a one-eighth share of their second-place bonus money.

In 1947, the Dodgers decided to send Tepsic down to the minors but he vehemently opposed the move, threatening to quit and go home. He held out for two weeks before reporting to the St. Paul Saints, and showed a bad attitude overall, although he hit .302. He was demoted further to the Fort Worth Cats of the Texas League "to promote harmony on the team". He played well for Fort Worth, and went to spring training in 1948 with the Montreal Royals making the team just long enough to be used once as a pinch runner. The Royals assigned his contract to the Nashua Dodgers of the New England League, but once again, Tepsic objected. He was then sent to the Lancaster Red Roses of the Interstate League, who played close to his hometown, but his time as a serious prospect was over. He played a few more seasons in the minor leagues before quitting for good in 1952.

After his playing career, Joe Tepsic owned and operated a small grocery store and lunch counter in Tyrone, PA. He died nearby in 2009.

Further Reading[edit]

  • Clifford Blau: "Leg Men: Career Pinch-Runners in Major League Baseball", in The Baseball Research Journal, SABR, Volume 38, Number 1 (Summer 2009), pp. 70-81.

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