On this date in 1959, Morrie (Morris) Arnovich, who was also known as Snooker, died. Morrie, who was born on November 16, 1910, was a stocky outfielder, primarily left, Major League Baseball outfielder who he played seven seasons for the Philadelphia Phillies, the Cincinnati Reds and the New York Giants between 1936, and 1941, and again for one game in 1946.
Known as one of the most religious Jewish major leaguers, Arnovich kept kosher his whole life. Arnovich was a two-time All-Wisconsin basketball star at the University of Wisconsin-Superior.
Arnovich’s professional baseball career began at age 22 with the Superior Blues, the champions of the newly revived Northern League in 1933. Playing shortstop, he hit .331 and slugged .495 with 17 steals. He was fifth in the league in average and fourth in homers, with 14. His .918 fielding was best of any shortstop with 50 or more games that season, and he made the unofficial All-Star team listed by the Spalding Guide. Returning to Superior in 1934, Arnovich hit .374 to take the Northern League batting title, and his 21 homers tied for fifth. He hit three homers in one game that year.
The Philadelphia Phillies purchased his contract in 1935, and assigned him to the Hazleton Mountaineers of the New York-Penn League. He hit .305 that year.
In 1936, he hit .327 with 19 homers and 109 RBI for Hazleton. He tied for the league lead in homers and was one RBI off of the top pace. He got a cup of coffee with the Phils that season and hit .313 in late-season action.
In 1937, he hit .290 and had a career-high five double plays from the outfield. In 1938, he had a career-high 18 outfield assists.
In 1939 he was the top hitter in the National League most of the season before fading late and finishing fifth in the league with a .324 batting average. He was 6th in OBP (.398), made the NL All-Star team and came in 18th in MVP voting.
At the age of 29, Arnovich was traded to the Cincinnati Reds for Johnny Rizzo in June 1940 and had a disappointing season, though he continued to hit for solid contact (.284) he failed to homer and his lack of power was not good for an outfielder.
He made his only World Series appearance that season. He was sold to the New York Giants in December 1940, and had a .280 batting average in 85 games.
Arnovich tried to volunteer for the United States Army, but was turned down because he was missing a pair of molars. He got false teeth and volunteered again after Pearl Harbor this time he was permitted in and spent the next four years in the Army. While in the Army, Arnovich played for and managed the Fort Lewis baseball team, before becoming a postal clerk in New Guinea.
After WWII Morrie played in one game for the New York Giants in 1946 and was sent down to the Jersey City Giants, where he went 5 for 25 in 10 games before being released in June 1946. In 1947 Arnovich hit in the .370s in the Three-I League and Western Association, then batted .353 in limited time in the 1948 Southeastern League before retiring at the age of 37.
Morrie coached basketball for a Catholic high school in Superior (I guess there was no Jewish high school!) after retiring, then ran a jewelry store and a sporting goods store (now those jobs sound more like something I would expect!). It was reported in the Superior Evening Telegram in 1949 that Morrie, who had managed in the Cubs minor league organization, had signed on as a referee in the new National Basketball Association. It is not known if Morrie actually served as an NBA referee in its inaugural season.