Monday, October 5, 2009

Jackie Collum, baseball player (1927-2009)

By Tom Hawthorn
Special to The Globe and Mail
October 5, 2009

Jackie Collum, an athlete who escaped the notice of baseball scouts because of his diminutive physique, went on to pitch in the major leagues for nine seasons.

The left-hander also spent three seasons with the minor-league Montreal Royals before ending his playing career with the Vancouver Mounties.

Mr. Collum, or Little Jackie, as he was invariably described in newspaper stories, stood just 5-foot-7 and weighed 160 pounds. Globe baseball writer Gord Walker described him as “the southpaw who looks like a bat boy.”

He pitched in the big leagues for the Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, St. Louis Cardinals, Minnesota Twins, Cleveland Indians, and the Dodgers both in Brooklyn and Los Angeles.

He had a record of 32 wins and 28 losses with a career earned-run average of 4.15.

Mr. Collum’s three seasons in Montreal began in 1957, when he recorded an admirable 12-7 record.

He went 9-10 with a weak-hitting Vancouver team in 1962.

Mr. Collum showed prowess at the plate, a rare pitcher capable of aiding his own cause. He had a .246 batting average in the majors, a sterling mark for a hurler. His lone career home run was a three-run shot off Ruben Gomez at the Polo Grounds in New York in 1954.

The greatest performance of his professional career came in Ottawa on Sept. 5, 1952, when he threw a no-hitter against the hometown Athletics. Pitching for the Rochester (N.Y.) Red Wings, Mr. Collum retired 22 consecutive Ottawa batters before issuing a walk in the eighth inning. The only other Ottawa runner got on base on an error in the ninth.

His baseball career was delayed by service in the U.S. Army during the Second World War, during which he was stationed for a time in the Philippines.

Following his baseball career, he worked in the automotive business in Iowa. He owned a Pioneer Oil service station at the time of his death.

John Dean Collum was born on June 21, 1927, at Victor, Iowa. He died at the Mayflower Health Care Center in Grinnell, Iowa, on Aug. 29. He was 82. He leaves his wife of 61 years, the former Betty Jo Belles; three sons; three daughters; 11 grandchildren; five great-grandchildren; two brothers; and, a sister. He was predeceased by a brother and two great-grandchildren.