(JTA) – Al Rosen, the slugging Cleveland Indians third baseman who was the American League’s MVP in 1953, has died. Rosen, a four-time all-star who was known as the “Hebrew Hammer,” died Friday, March 13. He was 91.
He played for the Indians from 1947 through 1956, including for the ’48 World Series champions – the last time Cleveland won the title. No Indians player has been named Most Valuable Player since Rosen, who retired after the 1956 season, at 32, suffering from a back injury from a car accident a year earlier.
Rosen was given his nickname because he was a former amateur boxer, a sport he reportedly picked up after being beaten up in his neighborhood, where he was one of the few Jewish boys. His boyhood idol was Detroit Tigers’ first baseman Hank Greenberg, who famously refused to play on Yom Kippur.
“We lost a cherished member of the Indians family last night,” said Larry Dolan, the father of Indians owner Paul Dolan, in a statement from the team. “Watching Al play was a true joy and something Indians fans of our generation still cherish.”
The team’s president, Mark Shapiro, added, “He was an inspiration to us all and had a special presence, strength and intellect. His fierce competitive nature and toughness was legendary.”
Following his on-field career, Rosen worked in the front offices of the Houston Astros, San Francisco Giants and the New York Yankees. As president and general manager of the Giants, he won the Sporting News Executive of the Year in 1987 and thus made baseball history – the only person to win MVP and Executive of the Year.