Vaughan redefined play at shortstop
Originally given the name Floyd Ellis Vaughan, he later changed his name to Joseph in the late ’30s, but he was most well known for the nickname Arky. Vaughan picked up the nickname Arky from friends in California after they learned of his birthplace in Arkansas. His family moved to California in search of work when Vaughan was young.
In his career, he played 10 seasons for the Pirates, never hitting below .300 with the Bucs. He was a model of consistency, playing in seven All-Star games batting .364 in those contests and also hitting two home runs in the 1941 Midsummer Classic.
The Pirates traded Vaughan in December of 1941 to the Brooklyn Dodgers for four players. He played third base for the Dodgers primarily in 1942, dropping below .300 in batting average for the first time in his career at .277. He rebounded in his second season with the Dodgers hitting .305, and led the league in stolen bases with 20. However, a suspension of pitcher Bobo Newsom by manager Leo Durocher over an alleged spitball led to a dispute. In protest Vaughan refused to play, staging a one-game strike.
On Aug. 30, 1952 Vaughan drowned while fishing with a friend in an extinct volcano lake crater. A sudden thunderstorm tipped the boat, leaving the men to swim. Witnesses say the two men immediately swam for shore, losing strength about 65 feet out.
In 1985, Vaughan was inducted into the Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee.
“I never saw anybody who could go from first to third or from second to home faster than Vaughan,” said fellow Pirate Rip Sewell. “Like we used to say, when he went around second his hip pocket was dipping sand. That’s how sharp he cut those corners.”
Kevin Stiner is a former Public Relations intern for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum