It is unlikely that anyone as
young as Joe Nuxhall will ever pitch in the major leagues again. He was
a 15-year-old junior high school student from Hamilton, Ohio, a city about 25 miles north of
Cincinnati, when he pitched his first game for the Cincinnati Reds in
The date was June 10. It was
a hot, steamy afternoon at Crosley Field and the Reds were playingthe St. Louis Cardinals - the
mighty Cardinals who would go on to win the National League pennant.
America was at war and major
league rosters were filled with players too old for military service,
players who had a physicalproblem that prevented them
from military service, or players who were too young to be drafted.
Left-handed pitcher Joe Nuxhall, IS years, 10 months, and 11 days old,
was one of the youngsters.
Nuxhall was a sensation on
the playgrounds in Hamilton. His fastball was fast. His curve ball was
He was big for 15 years of age and he was better than any of the other
kids in Hamilton.
He came to Cincinnati for a
tryout. The Reds, needing fresh young players, signed him to a major
league contract. But Joe never thought he would be used in a game. He figured he was
just getting some experience on the big league level before he would be
sent to the minor leagues.
How wrong he was. "I thought Mr. McKechnie
(manager Bill McKechnie) was kidding," Nuxhall said on the 30th
anniversary of his first major league appearance. "But he
It was the ninth inning and
the game was hopelessly lost. The Reds were trailing, 12-0. It was time
to take a look at that gangly kid from Hamilton.
"Warm up, Joe," McKechnie
said. The manager had to repeat
himself. Joe thought McKechnie was kidding. But the manager was serious
and out to the bullpen trotted Nuxhall.
"I felt fine warming up on
the sidelines," Nuxhall recalled. "It didn't get to me until I went out
to the mound to start the ninth inning."
About 3,500 fans were on hand
and they cheered when Nuxhall
went onto the field to start the ninth. They cheered louder when he
struck out the first batter. He walked the next man, then struck out the
next. But it would take him some eight years to get his third out in the
Before Nuxhall was removed,
the Cardinals had scored five more runs. He walked five, hit a batter
and allowed two hits as the Cardinals engineered the worst major league
runaway, 18-0, since 1906.
Nuxhall doesn't remember what
McKechnie said to him when he removed him from the game in favor of
Harry Eisenhart. "I know he said something, but I was so numb
emotionally I can't recall a thing," Nuxhall said.
The historic moment was not
even mentioned in the next morning's paper. No headlines reported
Nuxhall as the youngest player ever to pitch. The morning paper in
Cincinnati simply stated, "Five Redleg hurlers served 'em up and ducked
in the two hour and 23 minute clambake."