Burleigh Grimes

A photo of Burleigh Grimes.

Burleigh Arland Grimes (August 18 1893December 6 1985) was an American professional baseball player, and the last pitcher officially permitted to throw the spitball.

Nicknamed "Ol' Stubblebeard", Grimes was born in Emerald, Wisconsin. Burleigh made his professional debut in 1913 in Ottumwa, IA for the Ottumwa Packers in the Central Association. He made his major league debut on September 10, 1916 for the Pittsburgh Pirates and in 1920, when the spitball was banned, he was named as one of the 17 established pitchers who would be allowed to continue to throw the pitch. The 26 year old Grimes made the most of this advantage, and over the course of his 19-year career, won 270 games and pitched in four World Series. At the time of his retirement, he was the last of the 17 spitballers left in the league.

He played for the Pittsburgh Pirates (1916 - 1917), the Brooklyn Dodgers (1918-1926), the New York Giants (1927), the Pirates again (1928-1929), the Boston Braves (1930), the St. Louis Cardinals (the rest of 1930 and 1931), the Chicago Cubs (1932 and part of 1933), the Cardinals again (the rest of 1933 and part of 1934), the Pirates again (1934), and the New York Yankees (the last part of 1934).

According to Baseball Digest, the Phillies were able to hit him because they knew when he was throwing the spitter. The Dodgers were mystified about this; first they thought the relative newcomer of a catcher, Hank DeBerry, was unwittingly giving away his signals to the pitcher, so they substituted veteran Zack Taylor, to no avail. They suggested that a spy with binoculars was concealed in the scoreboard in old Baker Bowl in Philadelphia, reading the signals from a distance, but the Phils hit Grimes just as well in Ebbets Field in Brooklyn. A batboy solved the mystery by pointing out that Burleigh's cap was too tight. It sounded silly, but he was right. The tighter cap would wiggle when Grimes flexed his facial muscles to prepare the spitter. He got a cap a half-size larger and the Phillies were on their own after that.[citation needed]

He was the manager of the Dodgers in 1937-38, compiling a two-year record of 131-171 (.434), with his teams finishing sixth and seventh respectively in the National League. His most memorable moment managing the Dodgers occurred when he refused a suggestion by Owner Larry Macphail to activate Babe Ruth (hired as a coach in June, 1938) as a pinch-hitter for the month of September (disliked Ruth and fearful of Babe's eyesight problems). He then remained in baseball for many years as a minor league manager and a scout. He managed the Toronto Maple Leafs of the International League from 1942 to 1944, and again in 1952 and 1953, winning the pennant in 1943.

Grimes acquired a lasting field reputation for his temperament. He is listed in the Baseball Hall of Shame series for the act of throwing a ball at the batter in the on-deck circle.[1] His friends and supporters note that he was consistently a kind man when off the diamond. Others claim he showed a greedy attittude to many people that 'got on his bad side.' He would mainly speak to only his best friend Ivy Olsen in the dugout, and would only pitch to a man named Mathias Schroeder before games. Schroeder's identity was not well known among many Dodger players, as many say he was just 'a nice guy from the neighborhood.'

Burleigh Grimes was selected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1964. In 1981, Lawrence Ritter and Donald Honig included him in their book The 100 Greatest Baseball Players of All Time.

He died in Clear Lake, Wisconsin at age of 92.

See also Edit

References Edit

  1. Bruce Nash, The Baseball Hall of Shame 2

External linksEdit

Awards and achievements
Preceded by:
Grover Cleveland Alexander
National League Strikeout Champion
Succeeded by:
Dazzy Vance
Preceded by:
Grover Cleveland Alexander
Charley Root
National League Wins Champion
1921 (with Wilbur Cooper)
1928 (with Larry Benton)
Succeeded by:
Eppa Rixey
Pat Malone
Preceded by:
Casey Stengel
Brooklyn Dodgers Manager
Succeeded by:
Leo Durocher

Template:Los Angeles Dodgers Template:Los Angeles Dodgers managers Template:1931 St. Louis Cardinals Template:1964 Baseball HOF Template:Pitchers in the Baseball Hall of Fame

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