1956-1959
DAVE SISLER   P

Dave Sisler was the youngest son of baseball Hall of Famer, George Sisler, and was an untried hurler who cost the Boston Red Sox a bundle of money after a stellar college basketball and baseball career. 

Born in St. Louis, Missouri, on October 16, 1931, Dave was the fourth child and third son of George and Kathleen Sisler. At the time, his father had completed a sparkling 15-year major-league career. By the time he started playing in earnest, his father was in the sporting goods business in St. Louis.

Like most youngsters in the beginning, Dave played a number of positions. He threw and batted right-handed. It did not take him long, however, to concentrate on pitching. The first time was with a team in the local Catholic league when he was 12 or 13.  

By the time he graduated, he had been named all-state in football and basketball. He was well-suited for the latter at 6-feet-4 in height. He also was on the track team and, of course, he played baseball, pitching primarily and playing some first base. Interestingly, there were no all-state honors in baseball at that time.

Dave was also pitching semipro ball and was picked to play on a Missouri team that went to Wichita for the World Series of the National Baseball Congress. At the time the commissioner of this bastion of semipro ball just happened to be his father.

At Princeton, he quickly became a fixture with the schoolís basketball and baseball teams. Freshmen were not eligible to play varsity sports in 1950, but that did little to stop Dave, who struck out 14 Lafayette batters in pitching his first complete game for the freshman team. In his sophomore season, in 1951, his Tigers represented their district in the College World Series in Omaha.  In addition to his collegiate experience, Dave pitched semipro ball during each summer break.

In basketball, he was a starting forward. By his junior season, the 1951-2 school year, he earned second-team All-Eastern honors on a squad that qualified for the NCAA tournament. During that year, his baseball career kept pace.

By now he was attracting the attention of big-league scouts. However, given his interest in his studies and love for college life Ė he was vice president of both his sophomore and junior classes Ė any thought of professional baseball was on hold.

That all changed a few months later, when Dave learned from his father and older brother of potential changes in baseballís governing rules that could severely limit bonuses paid to new signees. As a result, Dave quickly changed course. The Red Sox had already scouted him when he played semipro ball in Massachusetts one summer. The Cardinals and Pirates, the team his dad now worked for, also showed interest. 

Despite what was then a sizeable amount of cash, the early signing with the Red Sox came with a big downside. It cost him his senior year of eligibility and required him to relinquish his baseball captaincy. Still, the Sislers bargained for and received a yearís stay to permit him to finish college.

In the spring of 1953, he graduated magna cum laude with a degree in basic engineering, and in keeping with his contract, prepared to report to Louisville, the Triple-A affiliate of the Red Sox. Between the end of classes and graduation he could play some minor-league ball, but when he got to Louisville, he found a veteran staff and little hope of significant time on their mound. He stayed a week and pitched some batting practice, before returning east to graduate. He then contacted Louisville manager, Mike Higgins, to ask for a more meaningful assignment until his official call-up. Dave found himself pitching in Albany of the Class A Eastern League.

He entered the U.S. Army, in February 1954, and spent the bulk of his military days stationed at Fort Meade, Maryland, assigned to an anti-aircraft battery. Naturally, he played basketball and pitched for the post teams. In May 1955, he was on leave when he appeared successfully against the Giants in an exhibition game at Fenway. By February 1956, Dave was ready for discharge and a participant at the Red Sox rookie camp, where he showed enough stuff for Mike Higgins, now the Red Sox manager, to invite him to spring training. 

The 1956 Red Sox were a mix of veterans and youngsters coming off a fourth-place finish the previous year. At the end of the season, he was named to Sporting News all-rookie team. The Boston writers named him the teamís rookie of the year. 

As the Red Sox entered 1957, Dave Sislerís position as a starter was rock-solid. All signs pointed to a banner season. In the beginning, that was the case, but then midseason he developed a sore right shoulder. By seasonís end he was 7-8 with an ERA of 4.71. The 1958 season saw similar results.

Entering the 1959 season, Daveís spot on the staff was in jeopardy. He was on the trading block. In May,  he and utility infielder Ted Lepcio were traded to the Detroit Tigers. Used by the Tigers strictly as a reliever, he was 1-3 in 32 appearances.

In December, he became a plum selection of the expansion Washington Senators, managed by former Red Sox teammate Mickey Vernon. Expected to be a holdout, he signed quickly with the Senators. In 45 appearances, Sisler went 2-8 (4.18 ERA, 11 saves) for the ninth-place club. His stay in Washington was short-lived.

Daveís brother Dick was a coach under Cincinnati Reds manager Fred Hutchinson. In November, 1961, he became the player to be named later in a deal in which the Reds traded Claude Osteen and cash to the Senators. Dave prospered with a 4-3 record and a 3.92 ERA for a team with a third place record. When he was called into the teamís front office in the spring of 1963 and told he didnít figure in the teamís season plans, he thought briefly about retirement. Reluctantly he headed for the Redsí Triple-A farm club in San Diego. 

At the end of 1963, and with no major-league baseball on the immediate horizon, he retired at the age of 32. He had enjoyed much success off the field and joined the investment firm A.G. Edwards, where he worked in the offseasons, rising to the position of vice chairman.

In his final years Dave SAisler battled prostate cancer and died in St. Louis on January 9, 2011.