Tony Lupien saved his best for last.
In 1947, the 30-year-old hit .341/.410/.520 with 21 home runs and 110 RBIs for the Hollywood Stars in the Pacific Coast League (PCL), earning him league MVP honors. He led the PCL that season in hits (237) and runs scored (147), and he tied for first with 40 stolen bases.
According to SABR, the left-handed hitting first baseman displayed remarkable bat control and Cal Ripken-like stamina (he played in all 186 games that season). He was known as a contract hitter and a tough strikeout. He also showed at lot of range at first base.
That combination got him to the big leagues where he played with Boston and Philadelphia in portions of five seasons from 1940-45, with a stop in Double-A Louisville in ‘41. He also played for the Chicago White Sox in ‘48 after his MVP season for Hollywood.
The knock against him was, he didn't have the power that major league teams expected from first baseman. He only hit 70 home runs in 1,193 career minor league games - 21 of which he hit in ‘47. But it was presumably difficult for big league teams to overlook his career minor league numbers (he was a career .319 hitter in 10 minor league seasons) and his defensive ability.
After getting more than 500 at-bats in each season from 1942-44 for Boston and Philadelphia, he ended up back in the PCL with Hollywood as he approached the age of 30. As crazy as it sounds today though, he wasn't all that anxious to leave Hollywood and the PCL for another shot in the big leagues, even when he had the chance.
"I hated to leave the Pacific Coast League for the White Sox," Lupien said. "It was too cold in Chicago."
As I mentioned in my first post in this series about PCL MVPs, the PCL was attempting to become a third major league in the 1940s and some players were quiet content to stay in the league for various reasons - even when the major leagues came calling.
But Lupien did play for the White Sox in 1948, his last season as a professional. He retired at the age of 31. He died nine years ago at the age of 87.
SABR has a fantastic article on its website about Lupien's playing days at Harvard, how he got his nickname (his given name was Ulysses John Lupien, but he picked up the nickname Tony as the result of a minor league promotion) and his work in baseball in the area of player rights after World War II. Check it out if you get a chance.