Straight to the Majors: Tom Carroll
Over the extended weekend of the Field of Dream series the Yankees played against Garrett Crotchet, a relief pitcher for the Chicago White Sox who throws hard, pitches well, and has yet to ever play a game in the minor leagues. After getting drafted 15th Overall in the 2020 MLB Draft, he signed, and went straight to the majors.
This got me wondering about what other players were who went straight to the MLB, of which there have been 22 since the MLB Draft was implemented in 1965. Over the next few weeks there are 11 players who have played for the Yankees while making their professional debut at the MLB level.
Today’s player is: Tom Carroll.
Road to the Show:
Before the MLB draft was implemented in 1965 there was a system in place to sign amateur free agents to play professional baseball. This system required that if a player was signed to a contract larger than $4,000 then they had to spend 2 years on the MLB roster, and if not the signing team would lose their rights to the player. This system was called the bonus rule and the players who came to the MLB through it were known as “bonus babies”. Tom Carroll is not only one of those players, but he is one of two players to do so while going straight to playing for the New York Yankees.
Tom Carroll, born in Jamaica (Queens), New York, and went to Bishop Loughlin High School. He must’ve played baseball for his school, but not much is publicly known about Carroll’s childhood years, however after high school he would attend the University of Notre Dame and play for their baseball team in the mid-1950’s. A good ballplayer, he grabbed the attention of the New York Yankees who signed him as a bonus baby out of Notre Dame in January of 1955. He would begin his professional career later the same year.
As a bonus baby, Carroll had to be a part of the Major League roster, but it didn’t necessarily mean he had to play. In his rookie season of 1955, Carroll would make appearances in just 14 games and do so most notably as a pinch runner. In his first professional game that was how he made his appearance, pinch running for Eddie Robinson (who pinch-hit for Johnny Kucks). He would get to 3rd base after a walk and a fly-out, but didn’t come around to score.
This would be the common fate for Carroll and his Yankee career as he was given just 6 at-bats in 1955, collecting 2 hits (both singles). Though, while Carroll was not provided much of an on-field presence for the Yankees, he was on the roster and was a part of 2 World Series games…in a series that the Yankees would end up losing to the Brooklyn Dodgers. After his career ended, Carroll would highlight this as the peak of his career.
The following year in 1956, the Yankees provided more opportunities to the young infielder, getting him into 36 games and 18 at-bats. Carroll did perform in his chances, collecting 6 hits (a .353 BA, though also all only singles) while also getting his only MLB walk and stolen base. Again, the Yankees made the World Series and this time around they would win and Carroll would earn a ring. However, while he was on the roster he was not used in any of the World Series games.
Going into 1957 after serving his two years of MLB time from being a “bonus baby” the Yankees sent Carroll down to the Richmond Virginian’s (Triple-A; International League) and he was moved from shortstop to third base. Carroll would hit .213 at the level and appear overmatched.
The next season (1958) the Yankees moved him down to the New Orleans Pelicans (Double-A, Southern Association) and he would perform well and earn a promotion to the Denver Bears (Triple-A, American Association). Though, he would fail to make it back to the MLB with the New York Yankees as he lost 6 months of baseball to military service after the season which stalled the progress he was finally making. That offseason Carroll was traded to the Kansas City Athletics (with Russ Snyder) for Mike Baxes and Bob Martyn.
Tom Carroll would start the 1959 season in the Kansas City Athletics minor league system and after 19 games with the Portland Beavers (Triple-A, Pacific Coast League) he made it back to the MLB.
Carroll would again be used sparingly, making it into 14 games while getting just 7 at-bats and collecting just 1 hit. He would play his final game at the MLB level on June 14th, 1959.
Carroll would finish the 1959 season in the Detroit Tigers minor league system and he spent 1960 between the Athletics and Chicago Cubs minor league systems before calling it a career at 23 years old.
Carroll would go on to have a successful career outside of his baseball days, joining the United States State Department and serve as a long-time diplomat between the USA and Latin America.
Still living, Tom Carroll will turn 85 next Friday (September 17th).