Random facts about a player hardly anyone remembers.

1967 Topps Jack Sanford

“Smiling Jack”

Jack Sanford ended his career with 137 wins in 1967–a number that everyone agrees would constitute a successful run in the big leagues. 

A darker side of Sanford’s personality also grabbed headlines during and after his baseball career, which wound down with the California Angels and Kansas City Athletics following arm and shoulder troubles.

After Sanford made a World Series appearance, a 1963 Sportmagazine article titled “Jack Sanford’s Grim World” laid bare the pitcher’s on- and off-the-field demeanor, all the while acknowledging his pitching skills. The author wrote that “Jack Sanford is a man of many moods, mostly bad” and that “Smiling Jack Sanford is a blue-eyed blond, somewhat less adorable than Shirley Temple. His blue eyes are hard and cold, shielded by heavy brows, and he squints around them… His jaw is hinged, his face flexible, and he twists it into various expressions, most of them forbidding, defiant, scowling. He saves his smiles for his friends, and he doesn’t make friends easily.” He was nicknamed “Smiling Jack” because he was usually scowling, and he was also nervous and irritable.

Another report, in a golf book, described Sanford as bloodying his own head from whacking himself with golf clubs after particularly bad shots.

In 1954, he was suspended for ten games after refusing to give the ball to his manager as he was being removed from a game.

 Sanford’s son John acknowledged that his dad was known for his explosive temper: “He always said that’s what helped an average kid from Wellesley to make it in the bigs. He carried it over to the golf course, where it wasn’t beneficial, but we didn’t see much of it at home.” Sanford’s daughter Laura added: “As to my dad’s so-called temper, he demanded so much from himself and was frustrated when he failed. Less than a perfect performance on his part was not sufficient; he was very competitive.”
Sanford died in 2000 at the age of 70 from brain cancer. R.I.P. Jack.

7 Comments

An aspiring Ty Cobb…

well, not doing too much aspiring these days. zing!

Smiling Jack won 24 for the ’62 pennant-winning Giants. He was a tough competitor–especially on the golf course, apparently.

There’s nothing wrong with bloodying your head every ONCE in a while.Everybodys doing It 😉

Fascinating! I knew next to nothing about Jack Sanford and nothing at all about his dark side. I enjoyed the way you presented this. Great job!

Given the nature of sports reporting, some 50 years ago, I knew nothing about Jack Sanford’s personality flaws. I grew up watching the Giants, and when they moved to California, one of our New York area radio stations continued to carry their games. With Jack Sanford as the ace of the staff, 1962 was Baseball Heaven to me–right up until that last pitch to McCovey.

I really enjoyed this article. It is good that we remember our baseball history, and that most of that history is written in the names of players that are largely forgotten. Thanks!

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