Light Hitting Infielder Hall of Fame- Casey Wise
Kendall Cole Wise was born on September 8, 1932 in Lafayette, Indiana. the son of a former major leaguer and long time scout Hughie. At some point Kendall and Cole went away and the young man was called Casey.
The bright and energetic young infielder went to the University of Florida to play baseball. He signed with the Chicago Cubs in 1952 as a 19 year old. The switch hitting middle infielder was known for his glove and his speed and no one ever mentioned his bat. Of course, this is the recipe for a player destined to be considered for the light hitting infielder hall of fame.
Casey began his professional career in the Northern League at Sioux Falls in 1953. He batted .297 in 390 at bats and suddenly the LH gods were upset. In 1954 while playing in Western League for Des Moines he hit .284 in 324 at bats.
The LH gods don’t just choose anyone and certainly they were starting to question if they were wrong on young Casey. But, one cooler head reminded them that you don’t get into the LH hallowed halls as a minor leaguer….it takes big league time to join this club.
1955 did not ease their pain as he played for Des Moines and Los Angeles of the legendary Pacific Coast League. He batted a combined .271 in 321 at bats.
Casey spent all of 1956 at Los Angeles as a 23 year old and played in 168 games with 705 at bats. Perhaps the Gods were really trying to see if they needed to walk away and find a future chosen son. He batted .287 in those games and the Gods were halfway out the door.
The Cubs selected Casey to be their opening day 2B in 1957 and finally he began to realize his potential as he started his career with an 0-4 debut. He batted a healthy .179 in 106 at bats eventually losing his job to Bobby Morgan. Casey was sent to Portland to finish out the season on July 3rd. He hit .246 in close to 300 at bats for the Beavers.
After the season the Milwaukee Braves came a calling and needed his talents to go with Joe Adcock, Eddie Mathews, and Henry Aaron. They traded P Ben Johnson and OF Chick King to get him.
Casey came off the bench for the Braves to start off the 1958 season and went 0-5 before being sent to Wichita in early May. He returned to Milwaukee in mid July and remained with the team the rest of the way as a backup at 3B, SS, and 2B. He hit .197 in 71 at bats driving in one run.
Casey spent most of 1959 at Louisville hitting .302 but the 26 year old spent a month in the big leagues batting .171 in 76 at bats. He did hit his first Hr which we document at the bottom of the page.
(This is the way the back of a light hitting infielder’s bubble gum card should look)
At the close of the 1959 season he was traded along with a pair of players to Detroit for C Charlie Lau and P Don Lee.
With Detroit, he opened the season as the backup to Frank Bolling but after Frank got hurt opening day Close got a look as the starter for 9 games. He hung around with the Braves through July 3rd when he played in a double header. He never returned to the big leagues after that. In 1960 he hit .147 in 68 at bats and closes out his major league career with a LH hall of fame worthy line of .174/.243/.240/.483 with 3 HR in 321 at bats.
Casey hung around the game for 2 more years playing in the Cleveland organization for Jacksonville before hanging it up and going to dental school at the University of Tennessee. He graduated in 1966 and also got his MS in ortho in 1968.
He established the first orthodontist practice in Naples, Florida in 1970 and became a fixture in the community until his death in 2007.
He was said to be an excellent tennis player and avid boater.
1st game: 4/16/57 in Chicago- lost 4-1 batting 2nd and going 0-4 with 5 PO and 2 Assists
1st Hit: 4/18/57 in St. Louis with a RBI single to CF off of Murray Dickson
1st HR: 6/11/59 in St. Louis 2 run HR off of Wilmer “Vinegar Bend” Mizell
Best game: 4/24/60 at home with Tigers versus White Sox- 4-5 3 RS, 2 HR, TP. HR off of Jake Striker, Art Ditmer
Last hit: 6/22/60 vs NYY
Last Game: 7/30/60 at NYY 0-2 with walk, batting 8th at SS with 2 PO, 4 assists.
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