Oscar Gamble played for 17 seasons in the big leagues but never won a World Series or even made an All-Star appearance in his career. He was popularly known for his Afro hairstyle that spilled out from underneath his cap. But did you know why he had to get rid of his afro?
Oscar Gamble was not allowed to keep his afro after being traded to the Yankees due to the team’s strict appearance policy. He had a commercial deal with Afro Sheen, but he lost it when he cut his hair. The club owner reimbursed him $5,000 for the lost deal.
Who is Oscar Gamble?
Oscar Charles Gamble was an American professional baseball outfielder and designated hitter who played for seven teams in Major League Baseball from 1969 to 1985, including the Chicago White Sox, New York Yankees, Chicago Cubs, Philadelphia Phillies, Cleveland Indians, San Diego Padres, and Texas Rangers.
He was born on December 20, 1949, in Ramer, Alabama, to sharecropper Sam Gamble and homemaker Mamie Scott. He went to George Washington Carver High School and was discovered playing semi-professional baseball by legendary Negro League baseball player Buck O’Neil, who was working as a scout for the Chicago Cubs at the time. O’Neil persuaded the Cubs to select Gamble in the sixteenth round.
Gamble’s batting stance was one of the more unusual in the major leagues. He was in a deep crouch at the plate, his back almost parallel to the ground. Gamble claimed that by taking this stance, he was able to see the ball better because his eyes were directly above the plate and close to where the ball was pitched.
Gamble returned to Alabama after retiring from baseball and lived in Montgomery for several years as a player agent. He was involved in youth baseball, and later in his life, he frequently returned to New York to give free baseball clinics for the St. Kevin Youth Guild in Queens, NY.
He married his first wife, Juanita, while playing for the Yankees, and after retirement and divorce, he married his second wife, Lovell Woods Gamble. Sean, one of his sons, played in the Philadelphia Phillies organization, while Shane, another son, played in junior college. He is also the father of three daughters, Sheena Maureen, Kalani Lee, and Kylah Lee.
In Montgomery, he opened the Oscar Gamble’s Players Club, a discotheque described as hip by baseball writer Dan Epstein. Gamble died of ameloblastic carcinoma in his jaw on January 31, 2018, at the age of 68. (Source: Britannica)
Oscar Gamble Baseball Achievements
His best overall season came in 1977, when he hit .297 with the Chicago White Sox, setting career highs in home runs, RBIs, runs, and doubles. His best year at the plate came in 1979 when he hit.358 while playing for both the Texas Rangers and the New York Yankees.
He finished his career with more walks than strikeouts, and he had 200 home runs and 666 RBIs. With the New York Yankees, he appeared in two World Series. (Source: Alabama Sports Hall of Fame)