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Joe Nuxhall

From Academic Kids

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Joe_nuxhall_statue_2004.jpg
Statue of Joe Nuxhall at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati

Joseph Henry Nuxhall (born July 30, 1928) was a Major League Baseball pitcher for sixteen seasons. He compiled a career ERA of 3.90 and a Won-Lost record of 135-117. Long known as "the old lefthander," Nuxhall is most often remembered for becoming the youngest player ever to appear in a modern Major League game when on June 10, 1944, at age 15 years, 10 months, and 11 days, he pitched 2/3 of an inning for the Cincinnati Reds.

Contents

Wartime Roster

During World War II, many regular players from the Reds and other Major League teams were unavailable while serving in the military. Meanwhile, Nuxhall was the biggest member of the ninth grade class in nearby Hamilton, Ohio at 6' 2" and 190 pounds -- a left-hander with a hard fastball, but not much control. He had already been playing in a semipro league with his father for a couple of years. Scouts looking to fill out the Reds' depleted roster were told his father wasn't interested in signing a professional contract because of his five children, so they asked about the son, who was only 14 at the time. After waiting until basketball season was over the next year, Nuxhall signed a Major League contract with the Reds on February 18, 1944. General Manager Warren Giles intended to wait until school was over in June to add him to the team, but more players were inducted into the service in the spring, and Nuxhall was in uniform with the team on Opening Day with permission from his high school principal.

Teenage Debut

On June 10, the Reds were playing the first place St. Louis Cardinals at Crosley Field and trailing 13-0 in the ninth inning when Manager Bill McKechnie called on Nuxhall to enter the game. He started well by retiring two of the first three batters he faced, but ended up allowing five walks, two hits, two wild pitches and five runs before being relieved. He spent the rest of the 1944 season in the minor leagues, but unlike Jake Eisenhart, who also made his debut for the Reds on June 10 and got the last out, Nuxhall would return to pitch in the Majors again.

Minor Leagues

Following his appearance with the Reds, he was assigned to the Birmingham Barons in the Southern League, but pitched only a third of an inning there (he struck out his first batter, then allowed a hit, five walks, a hit batter and five runs). Nuxhall attended Spring training with the Reds in 1945, but decided to remain home until he finished high school the following year. He regained his amateur status and played football, basketball and baseball for Hamilton High School as a senior in 1946, earning all-state honors in football and basketball. Over the next five years, Nuxhall played in the minor leagues with Syracuse, Lima, Muncie, Columbia, Charleston, and Tulsa before returning to the Reds in 1952.

Return to "The Show"

Nuxhall spent almost 15 of his 16 Major League seasons with Cincinnati, where he was a two-time National League All-Star and led the league in shutouts in 1955. He also played for the Kansas City Athletics and Los Angeles Angels in the American League.

Second Career

Nuxhall retired from the Reds in April, 1967 and immediately began his second career as a Reds broadcaster. His trademark radio signoff phrase -- "...Rounding third and heading for home" -- is displayed on the outside of the Reds' stadium, Great American Ball Park, which opened in 2003. A likeness of Nuxhall (see photo) is one of four statues -- along with others depicting Ernie Lombardi, Ted Kluszewski, and Frank Robinson -- that decorate the main entrance of the stadium. He was elected to the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame in 1968, and officially retired from the Reds on October 3, 2004, 60 years after his pitching debut. The team has said that Nuxhall is expected to make guest appearances on future game broadcasts.

References

  • Bob Rathgeber (1982). Cincinnati Reds Scrapbook. JCP Corp. of Virginia. ISBN 0-938694-05-7
  • Lonnie Wheeler and John Baskin (1988). The Cincinnati Game. Orange Frazer Press. ISBN 0-9619637-1-9
  • Rick Van Blair (1994). Dugout to Foxhole: Interviews with Baseball Players Whose Careers Were Affected by World War II. McFarland & Company, Inc. ISBN 0-7864-0017-X
  • Greg Rhodes and John Snyder (2000). Redleg Journal: Year by Year and Day by Day with the Cincinnati Reds Since 1866. Road West Publishing. ISBN 0-9641402-5-X

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