Tag Archives: St. Louis Browns

One of the Greatest Pitching Duels of all-time

AUGUST 6, 1952 | ST. LOUIS, MISSOURISatchel Paige got a rare start on this date in 1952, and ended up in one of the greatest pitching duels of all-time.

Despite the consensus among players, black and white, who played with and against him that he was the greatest pitcher of his day, Paige didn’t make the majors until after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947.

Paige had been playing professional baseball in the Negro Leagues since the mid-1920’s. He was finally invited to play for the Cleveland Indians in 1948. He was 41.

Paige pitched mostly relief. But on August 6, 1952, now with the St. Louis Browns, he got the start against Detroit Tiger right-hander Virgil Trucks. They were two cagey veterans; though Paige had 10 years on Trucks. Virgil was 35 years old. Satchel was 45.

They matched each other pitch for pitch, inning for inning. Trucks pitched 9 scoreless innings. Paige pitched 12 and won 1-0.

Satchel Paige’s long overdue major league career lasted six seasons. He went 6-1 with a 2.48 ERA in his first year, helping the Cleveland Indians win the 1948 World Series. He retired in 1953 at the age of 46, but came back to pitch in one game in 1965 at the age of 58. His career mark was 28-31, but three of those years were with the Browns who usually lost 100 games a year. He finished with a career Earned Run Average of 3.29.

CONTRIBUTING SOURCE:
August 6, 1952 Tigers vs Browns game stats

MAY 20 – One-armed outfielder

*1945 | ST. LOUIS, MISSOURIPete Gray may have had his best day on this date in 1945. He helped the St. Louis Browns sweep a doubleheader from the New York Yankees 10-1 and 5-2. Gray had three hits and two RBI in the opener. He scored the winning run in the second game, and hauled in three great catches in the outfield. Maybe not the stuff of legend, except Pete Gray had one arm.

He was born Peter J. Wyshner in Nanticoke, Pennsylvania in 1915. He lost his right arm in a farm accident at age six. He played two solid seasons for the Class A Memphis Chicks in 1943 and ’44. The St. Louis Browns purchased his contract and brought him up to the big leagues in 1945. Gray’s major league career was just 77 games. He hit just .218 but had a .959 fielding percentage playing mostly left or center.

If not for World War II, which was still going on when the season started, when many regular players were in the military, it’s quite certain Gray would never have stepped between the lines during a major league baseball game. Still, Peter Gray made it to “The Show,” something millions can only dream about.

CONTRIBUTING SOURCE:
One-Armed Wonder: Pete Gray, Wartime Baseball, and the American Dream, by William C. Kashatus, McFarland & Company, 2001