Considered one of the National League's top catchers during the 1950s and early 1960s, he led the league in assists a record-tying six times and in fielding percentage four times, winning four of the first five Gold Glove Awards given to an NL catcher, and tied another record by catching three no-hitters. He retired with the fourth most home runs by an NL catcher, and his career .404 slugging average also placed him among the league's top ten receivers. He ended his career among the major league career leaders in putouts (4th, 7352), total chances (8th, 8200) and fielding percentage (5th, .989) behind the plate, and ranked fourth in NL history in games caught.
Crandall was only 19 when he first played in a major league game, with the 1949 Boston Braves. He appeared in 146 games for Boston in 1949-50 before entering military service during the Korean War. When his two-year hitch was over in March 1953, the Braves departed Boston for Milwaukee, where – benefiting from a powerful offense featuring Hank Aaron, Eddie Mathews and Joe Adcock – they soon became both successful on the field and phenomenally popular off it. Crandall seized the regular catcher's job in 1953 and held it for eight years, handling star Braves pitchers such as lefthander Warren Spahn and right-handers the late Lew Burdette and Bob. The Braves won NL pennants in 1957 and 1958, also finishing in second place five times between 1953 and 1960, and captured the 1957 World Series championship – the franchise's first title since 1914. Crandall was a superb defensive player with a strong arm; he was selected as an All-Star eight times: 1953-1956, 1958-1960, 1962. A powerful right-handed hitter, he topped the 20 home run mark three times. In 1,573 games over 16 seasons, he finished with a batting average of .254 with 179 home runs.
Crandall eventually turned to managing, and piloted two American League clubs, the Milwaukee Brewers (1972-75) and the Seattle Mariners (1983-84). In each case he was hired to try to right a losing team in mid-season, but he never enjoyed a winning campaign with either team and finished with a managing record of 364-469 (.437). In between those AL stints, he was a highly successful manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers' top farm club, the Albuquerque Dukes of the AAA Pacific Coast League, and he remained in the Dodger organization as a special catching instructor well into his 60s. He also worked as a broadcaster with the Chicago White Sox in 1985 and with the Brewers from 1992-94.
SCP Auctions offered The Del Crandall Collection at auction in November 2007.
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