Legal Rule Violator
JANUARY 2, 1918 •
NEW YORK – The
Brooklyn Robins (later called the Dodgers) got a pitcher in a trade on this day in baseball who became known for openly throwing an outlawed pitch. Burleigh Grimes came to the Robins by way of a 5 player deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
His best pitch was the spitball, which was not illegal when he broke in, but banned by major league baseball in 1920 when he was just 26-years old. “Old Stubblebeard,” as he was called, became one of 17 pitchers already in the majors who were exempt from the ban. They could continue throwing the spitter as long as they played. Grimes ended up throwing it the longest, becoming the last pitcher to “legally” throw a spitball.
He made good use of the spitter, winning more than 20 games five times. He was 25-14 in 1928. Twice he won 19. Grimes won 270 games in his career, appeared in four World Series, and ended up in the Hall of Fame. Though he wore 7 different uniforms in a 19-year career, Grimes spent most of his career with
Brooklyn. When his playing days were over, he managed the Dodgers for two unremarkable years. He stayed in baseball for many years, but mostly as a scout and minor league coach.
Burleigh Grimes was born August 18, 1983 in the small farming community of Emerald,
Wisconsin. He died in nearby
Lake in 1985 at the age of 92.
17 pitchers allowed to throw the spitter after 1920:
is a member of SABR (The Society for American Baseball Research)