Cheap Seats

Cardinals of Yore: Specs Toporcer

George Toporcer, the first major league position player to wear eyeglasses on the field, died on this date in 1989 at the age of 90.

A shortstop by trade, Toporcer played his first full major league season -- and his best big league season -- in 1922 when he batted .324 for the Redbirds. After that promising year, Specs' future got a little bit fuzzy. He basically became a utility player as his average slipped to .254 in 1923 and he would never again crack the 100 games mark.

No longer a starter, Specs was still a valuable man off the bench with a slick glove that saw time at third, second, first and in the outfield in addition to his original position.

Toporcer finished his big league career in 1928 with a .279 batting average and nine homers in eight seasons. He was a member of the 1926 World Series winning club, contributing a sacrifice fly and an RBI in his only plate appearance in the Fall Classic.

After his major league playing days were over, Toporcer spent seven years as a player and manager for the Rochester Red Wings, the top minor league affiliate of the Cardinals from 1929-60. He found the pitching there much more to his liking, cracking 31 homers in his first season back in the bush leagues.

Toporcer retired as a player in 1934 because of his deteriorating eye site and continued as a minor league manager for several years. In 1951 surgery that was hoped to save his vision left him permanently blind.

A member of the International League Hall of Fame, Toporcer was followed by another groundbreaking Cardinals player who wore glasses. Chick Hafey, who played for St. Louis from 1924-31, became the first player who wore glasses to win a major league batting title during his last season with St. Louis. In 1971 Hafey was the first player who wore glasses to be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.