Youngest Yankee to appear in WS dies at 85

Tom Carroll, then 19, pinch-ran for Eddie Robinson in Game 1 of 1955 Fall Classic

October 2nd, 2021

Tom Carroll, the youngest Yankee ever to appear in the World Series, passed away on Sept. 22, five days after his 85th birthday.

Carroll was 19 years and 14 days old on Oct. 1, 1955, when he pinch-ran for Eddie Robinson, who had hit for starting pitcher Johnny Kucks, in the sixth inning of Game 1 of the 1955 World Series against the Dodgers at Ebbets Field. Carroll was stranded on first base when the next two batters flied out to end the inning and Rip Coleman came on to pitch.

Carroll again ran for Robinson the next day in Game 2, but he was forced out when Billy Martin grounded into a double play, with Hank Bauer replacing Carroll when the Yankees took the field in the bottom of the eighth.

“I was 19 ... and you go out there and you know everybody in the country’s watching you, because you’ve been watching these guys as a kid,” Carroll said in an interview posted to SABR’s Oral History Collection. “It was a big deal, Yankees-Dodgers Series, go out there to pinch-run and you’re scared to death. You’re scared that you're going to screw up.”

The only player younger than Carroll to appear in a World Series game is the Giants’ Freddie Lindstrom, who was 18 years, 318 days old when he started Game 1 of the 1924 World Series. He would play all seven games of the Giants’ loss to the Senators. The next-youngest Yankee after Carroll to get into a Fall Classic game is Mickey Mantle, who was 19 years, 349 days old for Game 1 of the 1951 Series.

Thomas Edward Carroll Jr. was born on Sept. 17, 1936, in Jamaica, N.Y., and grew up in the Queens suburbs. A fan of the Yankees and Joe DiMaggio, Carroll played baseball at Bishop Loughlin High School in Brooklyn and on semi-pro teams in New Jersey before attending Notre Dame. After signing with the team he grew up rooting for, Carroll returned to South Bend each fall, eventually completing his degree, one semester at a time, in 1961.

Signed during his sophomore year at the University of Notre Dame, Carroll was a “bonus baby,” a player signed for more than $4,000 (reports on his bonus varied from $35,000 to as much as $60,000), who was then required to be on the Major League roster for two seasons before he could be sent to the Minor Leagues. A shortstop who hit .550 as a freshman, Carroll was billed as the heir apparent to 36-year-old shortstop Phil Rizzuto. The Yankees even announced the signing with both players present on Jan. 28, 1955.

"I’ve completed a cycle," Paul Krichell, the Yankees scout who signed both players, said, according to the Associated Press. “Not only did I sign the greatest shortstop in Yankee history [Rizzuto], but I believe I have signed his successor [Carroll] for many years to come. Also, I have signed the shortest and tallest shortstops in Yankee history.”

Rizzuto was listed at 5-foot-6, while Carroll was 6-foot-3.

Carroll appeared in 14 regular-season games with New York in ’55, starting only the last game of the season, the second game of a doubleheader in Boston on Sept. 25. He played shortstop and batted leadoff, going 1-for-4 with a strikeout. For the season, he had two singles in six at-bats.

In 1956, Carroll made it into 36 games, again only starting the season finale, this time at third base and batting eighth. He went 1-for-2 before being replaced by Jerry Lumpe. Carroll totaled six hits, all singles, in 17 at-bats that year. In 50 games over two seasons, Carroll entered a game as a pinch-runner 33 times and played in the field in only 16 contests.

Having spent the required two years on the Yankees roster, Carroll was sent to Triple-A Richmond in 1957 before splitting ’58 between Triple-A Denver and Double-A New Orleans. On April 12, 1959, Carroll was traded with Russ Snyder to the Kansas City Athletics for Mike Baxes and Bob Martyn. In 14 games for the A’s in ’59, Carroll went 1-for-7 with his only career RBI, a single off future Hall of Famer Early Wynn in his second game with Kansas City on April 16. Two batters later, Carroll scored his final run on a single by future Hall of Fame manager Whitey Herzog.

Carroll’s last Major League appearance came on June 14, 1959, at the age of 22. After splitting time with affiliates of the A’s and Cubs in 1960, Carroll retired from baseball.

Carroll's post-baseball career included 27 years with the CIA, from 1961-88, according to an obituary posted by his family, in addition to work as a corporate consultant on Latin America until 2006. He is survived by his wife of 61 years, Joan; a brother, John; children Catherine, Michael, John and Jean; and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.