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Articles by Graham Womack

Graham Womack is founder and editor of Baseball: Past and Present and a member of the Society for American Baseball Research. Email him at thewomack@gmail.com.

Historian's Corner

Home Early: The Unusual Story of Jim Derrington, Dave Skaugstad, and Alex George

When Joe Nuxhall made his Major League Baseball debut in 1944 at age 15, getting battered for five runs in two-thirds of an inning in relief, there was a silver lining.

It took eight years but Nuxhall returned to the Majors, making two All-Star appearances, winning 135 games, and pitching until 1966. Nuxhall remains the youngest player in modern MLB history, and, of course, this headlined his New York Times obituary in 2007. But it was far from his greatest achievement.

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Historian's Corner

Pat Scantlebury, the Ancient Rookie

In a more just world, Pat Scantlebury would have been in the Majors a long time before he finally debuted for the Cincinnati Reds on April 19, 1956, at the age of 38 years, 160 days.

The 10th oldest Major League Baseball rookie at the time of debut since 1900, according to Baseball-reference.com, Scantlebury had pitched in the Negro Leagues and minors since 1944. Prior to that, he pitched in his native Panama, one of two players in MLB history along with Rod Carew to come from the Canal Zone.

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Historian's Corner

Patsy Tebeau, the Manager Who Walked Away

When Patsy Tebeau resigned as player-manager of the St. Louis Cardinals in August 1900, it was probably clear he had to go. The team had future Hall of Fame Managers John McGraw and Wilbert Robinson on its playing roster and had stumbled to a 42–50 record. Tebeau had a reputation as one of the toughest players of the 1890s, but he’d become lax with his charges.

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Historian's Corner

The Rise and Fall of Gus Greenlee

On the evening of July 19, 1938, the stockholders of Greenlee Field met to consider an offer. The first black-owned ballpark in Negro League history was six years old, a Hill District marquee, and home to one of baseball’s greatest teams, the Pittsburgh Crawfords. The city’s Housing Authority, which wanted the land for a low-income residential project, was offering $50,000. Construction of the 8,000-seat park had cost at least twice that. But the city had condemnation power.

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Historian's Corner

How the World Series Originated—and Almost Unraveled

On October 11, 1902, the closest thing to a World Series that year reached its anticlimactic finish. In front of 4,768 fans at Pittsburgh’s Exposition Field, Cy Young pitched a five-hit shutout to lead a team of American League All-Stars to victory over the National League–champion Pittsburgh Pirates. Pittsburgh had already clinched the four-game exhibition series by winning the first two games and tying the third, but they were obligated to play the fourth game, perhaps for the promise of gate receipts or to allow wagers to be settled.

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Historian's Corner

When Jimmie Foxx Was a Pitcher

Days after the most unlikely triumph of his playing career, Jimmie Foxx and his Philadelphia Phillies teammates visited Valley Forge General Hospital.

It was late August 1945. Months after the United States had celebrated V-E Day and mere weeks after V-J Day for World War II, the number of patients at the Phoenixville, Pennsylvania, army hospital had swelled from roughly 2,800 in May to more than 3,600. Thousands more wounded veterans were expected shortly from the Pacific theater.

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Historian's Corner

The Strange Story of Johnny Frederick

Shortly after the Dodgers traded Johnny Frederick to Sacramento of the Pacific Coast League in December 1934, he spoke to Harold Parrott of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. Parrott had covered the 32-year-old Frederick during his six seasons in the Majors, where he hit .308 with 954 hits for Brooklyn. By this point in fact, Frederick had over 2,000 hits professionally and would go on to finish with 3,421.

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Historian's Corner

How Benny Kauff Went from Ballplayer to Bootlegger

A decade after Kenesaw Mountain Landis banned Benny Kauff for life from baseball for his connection to a car theft ring, the former Giants outfielder returned to New York looking for work.

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Historian's Corner

The Second Coming of Joe DiMaggio

It was no sure thing when the San Francisco Seals sold Joe DiMaggio to the New York Yankees on November 21, 1934. The Yankees got an option to purchase DiMaggio from the Seals before the end of the 1935 season for $25,000 and five players to be named later, according to Richard Ben Cramer’s definitive DiMaggio biography, The Hero’s Life.

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