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APRIL 23 (1952) - Hoyt*
By Bill Grimes
Apr 23, 2007 - 3:40 AM

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Don’t quit your day job, Hoyt

NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK, APRIL 23, 19 52 – What are the odds? On this day in baseball history, New York Giant pitcher Hoyt Wilhelm hit a home run. It was his very first major league at bat. He hit a triple two days later. If you remember Hoyt, a great knuckleballing relief pitcher comes to mind, not a particularly good hitting pitcher. That’s because in a career that spanned 21 years, over 1,000 games and 432 official at bats, Wilhelm never hit another home run or triple.

There were pitchers who could hit, though. Here’s a look at some of them:

  • The greatest hitting pitcher was probably the greatest hitter, period – Babe Ruth. He hit .302 over the 3 seasons his position was primarily pitcher for the Boston Red Sox. In almost 400 at bats his on base + slugging percentage was .837.
  • Red Ruffing was a consistent hitting pitcher for the Red Sox and Yankees in the 1920s, 30s and 40s. He hit .269 over 22 seasons, including 36 home runs ( remember, even the best pitchers only played every 3 to 5 days).
  • Another consistent hitting pitcher was Wes Ferrell who played primarily for the Cleveland Indians and Boston Red Sox. He had a .280 with 38 home runs over a 15 year career. Though not a household name, Ferrell could pitch too. His lifetime record was 193 wins and 128 losses.
  • Walter Johnson is known as maybe the greatest pitcher of all-time with 417 career wins. He also had one of the best single seasons for a pitcher with a bat in his hands. In 1925 he hit .433 in 97 at bats. He hit 2 home runs and 20 runs batted in.
  • Brooklyn Dodger pitcher Don Newcombe was a career .271 hitter. His best over all year was 1955 when he hit .359 with 23 RBI in 124 plate appearances.

Read on:
http://www.baseballprospectus.com/
http://www.baseball-almanac.com/

Come back tomorrow



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