A Dozen Things You Should Know About Chet Laabs

Chet Laabs

Here’s a quick look at 1930s and 1940s outfielder Chet Laabs:

1. Chester Peter Laabs was born 330 April 1912 in Milwaukee. His father ran a tavern.

2. At 15 he joined a semi-pro team in Milwaukee. In 1934 he joined the Milwaukee Brewers, a minor league team at the time. By 1936 he was a hot property and was sold to the Detroit Tigers.

3. The Tigers sent him back to Milwaukee and asked he be made into an outfielder (he’d played second base for most of the 1934 and 1935 seasons). His play helped the Brewers to the “Little World Series,” a series of games between the pennant winners of the International League and the American Association (the Brewers were AA champs) minor league teams. The Brewers won in five games.

4. In 1937 Laabs began play in the big leagues with Detroit. He hit .240 in 72 games with eight home runs and 31 runs scored.

5. In 1938, Chet Laabs was sent back to the minors (he was hitting .237). He returned to Detroit in 1939, but was traded early in the season to the St. Louis Browns. He hit .300 with 10 homers and 52 runs scored with St. Louis.

6. In July 1941 he set an American League record with 13 total bases in a regular season games (9 innings).

7. In 1942 he had 27 home runs, good for second in the American League behind Ted Williams.

8. By 1944 he was involved in a war work-ball playing situation. He worked in the day at a plant that built pipes for the war and played ball at nights and on weekends. He hit all of .234, but he hit two home runs on the last day of the season to clinch the Browns only American League pennant.

9. He hit .200 in the World Series with six strikeouts, a double, a triple, two walks, and he scored the last run the Browns ever scored in the Series in game six. The Browns lost to the Cardinals in six games.

10. He remained with the Browns through 1946, then played one last season for the Philadelphia Athletics in 1947. He retired with a triple slash line of 262/346/452/798, 813 hits, 467 runs scored, 117 home runs, 509 RBIs, and OPS+ of 113, and 10.8 WAR.

11. He played minor league ball through 1950, then worked for a Detroit paper and a trophy company.

12. Chet Laabs died of a heart attack in January 1983. He is buried in St. Clement cemetery in Center Line, Michigan.

Laabs grave from Find a Grave


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4 Responses to “A Dozen Things You Should Know About Chet Laabs”

  1. glenrussellslater Says:

    I told all this information about Chet Laabs to a bus driver today. He seemed interested, then replied, “That and $2.75 will get you on the bus.”

    • verdun2 Says:

      Smart bus driver. 🙂

      • glenrussellslater Says:

        Seriously, though, I DID find it interesting, especially about how Laabs worked in a plant making pipes for the war during the day and played only night games and weekend games for the Browns. I looked it up, and he STILL managed to have a decent season. That’s something that I admire. Can you imagine a player doing that today??? Hah! I agree with Tom Brokaw; guys like Laabs WERE part of the Greatest Generation. And I’ll bet that if you asked him, Chet would say that he was prouder about his effort on behalf of the Allied Forces than the fact that he was a major league player. I wish I got to meet him; I’ll bet he would have said that. My father and mother have told me that my grandfather from the Bronx and Brooklyn (the other was from Conway, Pennsylvania) was prouder about his work at the Brooklyn Navy Yard as a ship-fitter and welder than of anything else. He was particularly proud that he worked on the U.S.S. Missouri, although I never heard him brag about it. That’s how men were then; my generation and other generations afterwards are a disgrace compared to his generation. Really, men were really men, never complaining, whining, or bitching like NOWADAYS, and they CARRIED themselves like men, didn’t curse in the subway, and had pride; not like the New Yorkers of nowadays. Even the WOMEN curse in the subways nowadays. THEY have no pride, either. New York City is a disgrace today, in terms of adults acting like whining babies and entitled brats. Martin Luther King and our other heroes, like those in our wars, died so THESE people could be free to act the way that they do????? And I’m not exactly proud of myself, either, although I TRY to be courteous and give up my seat on the subway to an elderly or handicapped person every time the situation comes up. Most of these New York bastards wouldn’t even stand up and give up their seat for their own mothers!


  2. wkkortas Says:

    I remember reading a book by Roger Angell (it may have been Five Seasons) which featured a chapter about three long-time Tiger fans, one of whom was a dentist who took time to step out of a cleaning to tell his two buddies that he had Chet Laabs in his chair, and God only knows why I remember that.

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