Ninety-two years ago today, on April 4, 1929, Harold Joseph “Tookie” Gilbert was born in New Orleans. He received his nickname by his brothers, Larry, Jr., and Charlie, by the way he pronounced “Rookie”, the name they called him as they were growing up.
He hit .333 for Erie in the Class C Middle Atlantic League and earned a spot with the Class A Sioux City Soos in the Western League where he hit for a 2.99 average. He played for the Nashville Vols under the tutelage of his father, manager Larry Gilbert, in 1949. Tookie hit 33 home runs, drove in 122 RBI on 197 hits, and it appeared he was destined for the majors and the New York Giants. In 1950, he hit a paltry .220 and was sent to Minneapolis. to finish the season.
In 1951 he led the American Association with 29 home runs.
In 1952 he was with Oakland of the Pacific Coast League where he drove in 118 runs and hit 33 homers. He was a back-up first baseman for the Giants in 1953 but never accomplished the greatness he had hoped for.
On February 13, 1954, he announced he was retiring from baseball. However, after a five-year absence from baseball, he returned to the Southern Association to play for New Orleans Pelicans.
On April 15, 1959, he blasted two home runs as New Orleans defeated Nashville 8-1 in the Pelicans’ home opener. In 142 games, he hit 22 home runs. He hung up his spikes at the end of the season.
He was elected sheriff of Orleans Parish, Louisiana, in 1962; Gilbert died in New Orleans of an apparent heart attack at the age of 38 and was buried at Lake Lawn Park Cemetery and Mausoleum in New Orleans.
Read more about Tookie Gilbert here:
© 2021 by Skip Nipper. All Rights Reserved.