Edward Stewart Plank (August 31 1875 - February 24 1926), nicknamed "Gettysburg Eddie," was a Major League Baseball pitcher in the early 20th century, the first left-handed pitcher to win 200 games and then 300 games, and now ranks third in all-time wins among left-handers with 326 career victories (eleventh all time).
History books often erroneously state that Eddie Plank graduated from Gettysburg College. He attended Gettysburg Academy, a prep school affiliated with the college, but Plank never attended or graduated from the college. However, he did play for the Gettysburg College baseball team.
Plank made his major league debut on May 13, 1901, for the Philadelphia Athletics, a team he would play for until 1914. Over this time, he would be one of the most consistent pitchers in the game, winning over 20 games seven times and contributing to two World Series championships, one in 1911, the other in 1913. (He had to sit out the 1910 Series due to a sore arm.) He was known as a finesse pitcher with a good sidearm sweeping curveball. He was also known for his long pauses on the mound, which some claimed lengthened the duration of the games in which he pitched.
In 1915, Plank played for the St. Louis Terriers of the Federal League, and won 21 games, the eighth and final time he would reach the 20-win plateau. Some baseball reference works decline to acknowledge the Federal League as a "major league", and therefore give Plank credit for only 7 20-win seasons and 305 total wins.
Over his career, Plank amassed a 326-194 record, a 2.35 ERA and 2246 strikeouts. He won 305 games in the American League, making him that league's winningest left-handed pitcher. In addition, he was the winningest pitcher (left or right-handed) in the American league until 1921, when he was surpassed by Walter Johnson.
Plank was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1946. In 1999, he ranked 68th on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Baseball Players, and was a nominee for the Major League Baseball All-Century Team.
Plank is mentioned in the poem "Lineup for Yesterday" by Ogden Nash:
|Lineup for Yesterday|
|P is for Plank,|
The arm of the A's;
When he tangled with Matty
Games lasted for days.
|— Ogden Nash, Sport magazine (January 1949)|
(Matty, or Mathewson, had in fact won games against Plank all the way back to their college days, Bucknell vs. Gettysburg. Plank did not beat Mathewson until the 1913 World Series).
Plank was a member of the Rho Deuteron Chapter of Phi Sigma Kappa at Gettysburg College. He is buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Gettysburg.
- 300 win club
- List of Major League Baseball leaders in career wins
- List of Major League Baseball saves champions
- MLB All-Time Hit Batsmen List
- Top 100 strikeout pitchers of all time
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference, or Fangraphs, or The Baseball Cube
- baseballhalloffame.org – Hall of Fame biography page
- Eddie Plank Documentary film
- Photograph of Eddie Plank part of Historic Gettysburg Digital Collection at Gettysburg College
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