New Orleanian George Strickland spent twenty-one years as a major league baseball player.
George Bevan Strickland spent twenty-one years in major-league baseball in a variety of positions, both on and off the field. Best remembered as a slick-fielding shortstop for the Cleveland Indians team that played in the 1954 World Series, Strickland also served as a manager and scout for the Indians and a coach for the Minnesota Twins. In 1952 he participated in five double plays in one game—a major-league record that stands to this day.
Strickland was born in New Orleans on January 10, 1926. He attended S. J. Peters High School, where he excelled as an infielder for the baseball team alongside teammate Mel Parnell. In 1943 he was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers and assigned immediately to their local farm club, the New Orleans Pelicans. He made his professional debut on September 5, 1943.
Strickland was a member of the Pelicans until March 1944, when he was drafted into the US Navy. After the end of World War II in 1945, he rejoined his former team in New Orleans and bounced around the minor leagues through the 1949 season, making his major-league debut for the Pittsburgh Pirates on May 7, 1950. By 1951 Strickland was the Pirates’ starting shortstop, slugging nine home runs with forty-seven runs batted in (RBIs). Later that year Strickland joined a group of players who toured Japan for a series of exhibition games; while in Asia, he, Parnell, and a few others from the group ventured to Korea to visit American troops engaged in the Korean War.
Strickland was traded on August 18, 1952, to Cleveland and remained in an Indians uniform for the remainder of his career. Strickland played eight seasons with the team. He was the shortstop for the Indians in 1954, when they were American League champions, ending the New York Yankees’ streak of five consecutive pennants. Strickland notched nine at-bats in the World Series that year, a losing effort to the New York Giants. He would temporarily retire in 1958, only to return a year later and finally end his playing career in 1960.
In 1962 he served as a coach for the Minnesota Twins, but in 1963 Strickland returned to the Indians as a scout. He was named as the Indians’ interim manager in 1964 and again in 1966. His managerial record was forty-eight wins and sixty-three losses. In all, Strickland would spend twenty-one major-league seasons as a player, manager, coach, and scout.
He was inducted into the Diamond Club Hall of Fame (1968), the Greater New Orleans Sports Hall of Fame (1980), the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame (2006), and the Greater New Orleans Professional Baseball Hall of Fame (2006).
Strickland lived in New Orleans until his death in 2010, at the age of eighty-four.