ROSEN, ALBERT LEONARD "AL" (29 February 1924-13 March 2015) was a slugging third baseman for the CLEVELAND INDIANS who later became a Major League Baseball executive.
Rosen was born to Louis and Rose Rosen in Spartanburg, S.C. When he was 18 months old, his family relocated to Miami, where he grew up in the city’s “Little Havana” neighborhood. After graduating from Florida Military Academy, where he received a scholarship for his boxing prowess, he attended the University of Florida. He played in North Carolina in the minor leagues before enlisting in the U.S. Navy. He saw combat in the Pacific Theater, and left the navy as a lieutenant in 1946 to return to minor league baseball.
He rose through the minor leagues, earning the nickname “The Hebrew Hammer” for his hitting prowess, and made his debut with the Indians in 1948. He made the WORLD SERIES roster, and was hitless in one pinch-hitting appearance against the Boston Braves. He went back and forth between Cleveland and the minor league San Diego Padres in 1949, but by 1950, he was the Indians’ everyday third baseman.
That year, he hit 37 home runs to lead the American League. His best year with the Indians was 1953, when he was unanimously voted American League MVP. He hit 45 home runs and drove in 145 runs, and narrowly missed a triple crown, losing the batting title by a point to Mickey Vernon of the Washington Senators.
In 1954, he hit two home runs in the ALL-STAR GAME at CLEVELAND MUNICIPAL STADIUM, and was another key part of a hard-hitting lineup that propelled the Indians to 111 wins and the pennant. But injuries started to curtail his productivity, and following the 1956 season, he retired, and turned to life after baseball as a stockbroker.
In 1973, he was part of an ownership group – with GEORGE STEINBRENNER, among others – that tried to buy the Indians from VERNON STOUFFER, but the deal fell through. Undaunted, Steinbrenner bought the New York Yankees, and in 1978, hired Rosen to be that team’s president and chief operating officer. He lasted roughly 18 months on the job, resigning in 1979. Following the 1980 season, he became president and general manager of the Houston Astros, a role he served in for five years. After Houston, he became general manager of the San Francisco Giants. In 1987, the year the Giants won the National League West, Rosen was named executive of the year. The Giants won the West again two years later, this time advancing to the World Series. He retired in 1992.
Rosen married the former Teresa Ann Blumberg in 1952. They had three sons, Jim, Rob and Andy, and remained married until her death in 1971. He married the former Rita Kallman, and became stepfather to her son and daughter. They remained married until his death.
Rosen was inducted into the Indians Hall of Fame, the CLEVELAND SPORTS HALL OF FAME, the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and the Texas League Hall of Fame.