Pennsylvania Private Colleges-Universities: Special Student-Athletes-Winter Ball (Part II)

George Earnshaw at Swarthmore, circa 1922.

George Earnshaw

Nicknamed “Moose,” Earnshaw stood 6’4″ and weighed 210 pounds when he debuted for the 1928 A’s, at age 28. He was born in New York City, February 15, 1900, and graduated from Swarthmore in 1923. Earnshaw excelled in three college sports: football, basketball, and baseball, and was inducted in Swarthmore’s Sports Hall of Fame in 2019. Earnshaw’s ties to Swarthmore included a 1920-1922 college baseball teammate of Curley Ogden, and 1924-1927 minor-league teammate of Jack Ogden—Curly’s older brother—with International League Baltimore Orioles, managed by Jack Dunn. In 1925, Earnshaw was 29-11; Jack Ogden—who also pitched in the majors—went 28-11 for the 105-61 Orioles.

George Earnshaw at Swarthmore, circa 1922. Photo credit: https://swarthmoreathletics.com/hof.aspx?hof=49

Earnshaw’s SABR bio by Warren Corbett https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/george-earnshaw/ noted that the right-hander was sold by Dunn to the A’s for $80,000 in June 1928, two years after Dunn turned down a $100,000 offer by the Washington Senators for Earnshaw. (Lefty Grove

was sold by Dunn to the A’s for $100,600 in 1924.) And the same Jack Dunn, in 1914, sent Babe Ruth to the Boston Red Sox, from Baltimore, for a reported $15,000.

Grove-Earnshaw were the only big-league teammates who won 20+ games, 1929-1931, with Grove posting a 31-4 mark in 1931. Grove-Earnshaw was one-two in AL strikeouts, 1929-1931. Jack Ogden opined that Earnshaw’s fastball “was the best he ever saw.” Corbett’s SABR Bio noted that Earnshaw threw a curve about 25 percent of the time and had a change-up/screwball similar to the “circle change [later] used by Greg Maddux and Pedro Martínez.” Table II includes some 1929-1931 pitching metrics for Grove and Earnshaw. Grove was 4-2 with two saves and a 1.75 ERA in three World Series (1929-1931), with 36 strikeouts, six walks, and a 1.013 WHIP in 51.1 innings. Earnshaw was 4-3 with one SHO (1931) and a 1.58 ERA in 62.2 Fall Classic innings, with 56 strikeouts, 17 walks, and a 0.894 WHIP. The A’s defeated the 1929 Cubs and 1930 Cardinals, and lost to the 1931 Cardinals.

Table II: Grove and Earnshaw Pitching Metrics, 1929-1931

PitcherSeasonWARW-LIPSHOERAERA+WHIPK-BBFIP
Grove19297.320-6275.122.811491.304170-812.85
 193010.428-529122.541851.144209-602.45
 193110.431-4288.242.062171.077175-623.03
Earnshaw19295.724-8254.233.291281.406149-1253.56
 19304,422-1329634.441061.480193-1393.85
 19314.921-7281.233.671221.172152-753.63

Sources: https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/g/grovele01.shtml and https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/e/earnsge01.shtml

Hall of Famer Burleigh Grimes, who pitched against Earnshaw in the Series, said years later, “We’d heard about Grove, how hard he could throw. But I’ll tell you, the guy we thought threw the hardest was Earnshaw.” (as quoted in Earnshaw’s SABR Bio)

Earnshaw won 127 major league games in nine seasons. He returned to Swarthmore after his big-league career ended; and sold insurance. In MacPhail’s senior season, Lee MacPhail Jr. recalled that Earnshaw pitched batting practice at Swarthmore in, spring of 1939. “I weighed 160 pounds,” recalled MacPhail. “Earnshaw was much bigger than all our [Swarthmore] players. He also did a fine job as a pitching coach with the 1949 and 1950 Philadelphia Phillies and helped them win the 1950 NL pennant.” Earnshaw also pitched a semi-pro game for the 1938 Brooklyn Bushwicks, versus the Negro Leagues’ Pittsburgh Crawfords, three years after he pitched for the 1935 Brooklyn Dodgers, managed by Casey Stengel.

George Earnshaw at Swarthmore, circa 1922. Photo credit: https://swarthmoreathletics.com/hof.aspx?hof=49

George Earnshaw Plaque. Photo credit: https://swarthmoreathletics.com/hof.aspx?hof=49

Lee MacPhail Jr.

MacPhail Jr. was born in Nashville, Tennessee, on October 25, 1917, due to legal work in that city by his father (Lee MacPhail Sr.), better known as Larry. They are the only father-son duo inducted in Cooperstown—honored as baseball executives. MacPhail Sr. was behind the Cincinnati Reds 1936 spring training trip to Puerto Rico and helped authorize and coordinate the 1947 New York Yankees jaunt to San Juan. (Cincinnati also played exhibition games in Ciudad Trujillo, Dominican Republic; the 1947 Yankees did likewise in Caracas, Venezuela, and Havana, Cuba.)

Coincidentally, the author’s mother and MacPhail Jr. were high school classmates in New York City (Class of 1935) and Swarthmore College classmates (Class of 1939). “I remember your mother,” MacPhail Jr. wrote, to the author, in a letter postmarked February 2, 2011. “My Swarthmore degree [in History] was very, very helpful.” MacPhail commented on other matters, i.e., his long-time friendship with Dr. Bobby Brown—who followed MacPhail as AL President; orchestrating the key trade between Baltimore and Cincinnati, before the 1966 season; serving on the Board of Directors, National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, which gave him a chance to “hear from all my old friends and their stories.” MacPhail, 160 pounds, played center on Swarthmore’s football team and the outfield for the Garnet’s baseball squad. With its Quaker legacy of simple living, social responsibility, and conservation of resources, Swarthmore enrolled about 800 students, then equally divided between males and females. Paula Van Hyning recalled that MacPhail was a “positive person with a nice personality.”

Yankees Farm System and Winter Ball

From 1949-1958 MacPhail Jr. directed the New York Yankees farm system, when the Bronx Bombers played in nine World Series, winning seven Fall Classics. He encouraged two managers in the Yankees system—Harry Craft (from Ellisville, Mississippi) and Ralph Houk—to manage the San Juan Senators. Craft managed Yankee prospects such as Bill Renna (1953-54) and Bob Cerv, Elston Howard, and Woodie Held (1954-55). Houk managed the 1956-57 Senators, a club with Johnny Blanchard and future Yankee hurler, Luis “Tite” Arroyo. Houk was quoted, post-1961 World Series: “That man (Arroyo) showed me five years ago he could pitch, and I’m not taking credit for Arroyo being with this [Yankee] ballclub, but this man shows me he wants to pitch, and that’s why he’s having some success in the big leagues.”

Arroyo endeared himself to Houk, end of the 1956-57 regular season, with San Juan, by taking the ball on one day’s rest, and winning a third-place tie-breaker with the Caguas Criollos. And Arroyo kept Caguas’s Roberto Clemente from batting .400 by holding him to one hit, in four AB, that day. Houk felt his San Juan managing experience was “helpful for his career.”

Other Yankee prospects and  minor-league managers, in Puerto Rico when MacPhail Jr. was farm director, were:

  • Rogers Hornsby, 1950-51 Ponce Lions
  • Bill Skowron and Clint Courtney, 1950-51 Ponce
  • Lew Burdette, 1950-51 Mayagüez Indians.

MacPhail Jr. wanted to sign Luis “Canena” Márquez, a star player with the 1948-49 Aguadilla Sharks, and other teams, in Puerto Rico, but Bill Veeck, Cleveland Indians owner, flew down to

Puerto Rico (according to MacPhail Jr.) and “offered more money to Márquez. The case went to Commissioner Happy Chandler, who awarded Márquez to Cleveland and IF Artie Wilson to the Yankees. Then, there was the case of talented infielder Vic Power, who could also play the OF.

MacPhail Jr. recalled Power—who starred in the Yankees farm system, 1951-1953—as “an outstanding fielder at first base—I am not sure I have seen anyone any better—and a good right-handed hitter with power. [George] Weiss and [Dan] Topping wanted to be certain that the first Black player to play for the Yankees would be a role model…” Weiss traded Power to the Philadelphia A’s, in an 11-player deal, mid-December 1953. MacPhail Jr. had already worked out a deal with the Kansas City Monarchs, in 1950, to purchase the contract of Elston Howard.

Vice-President/GM for Baltimore Orioles

During his eight-year executive tenure with Baltimore, MacPhail Jr. was supportive of:

  • Jerry Adair and Jack Fisher playing for the 1960-61 San Juan Senators
  • Boog Powell spent two winters (1962-64) with Mayagüez
  • Dave McNally getting valuable pitching experience (1963-64) for Mayagüez
  • Acquiring Venezuelan shortstop Luis Aparicio from the Chicago White Sox
  • Setting up parameters for the vital Frank Robinson trade with Cincinnati.

MacPhail Jr. received the 1966 Sporting News Executive of the Year Award for building the 1966 Orioles into a World Champion.

Yankees GM (1966-1973)

MacPhail Jr. enjoyed living in New York City and its amenities. He helped rebuild the team by:

  • Giving the green light to Bobby Murcer to join 1968-69 Caguas Criollos, and  play for Luis “Tite” Arroyo
  • Encouraging Thurman Munson to play for the 1969-70 San Juan Senators
  • Making two key trades—acquiring Sparky Lyle from Boston for Danny Cater (1972) and—receiving Graig Nettles and Jerry Moses from Cleveland, post-1972 season.

AL President (January 1, 1974 – December 31, 1983)

Some achievements included:

  • Helping navigate the advent of free agency and representing owners in arbitration, free agency, and collective bargaining
  • Seeing league expansion to 14 teams, with Seattle (1977) and Toronto (1977)
  • Supporting Dick Butler, AL Supervisor of Umpires, with sending talented umpires to Puerto Rico’s Winter League, including Dale Ford, Durwood Merrill, Tim McClelland, Dan Morrison, Larry Young, among others
  • Solving the 1983 George Brett “pine tar” incident involving umpire McClelland.

ALCS, Swarthmore and Cooperstown

MacPhail’s fine work resulted in the MVP Award of the American League Championship Series (ALCS) being named after him. Furthermore, in 1985, Commissioner Peter Ueberroth donated  $100,000 to Swarthmore for scholarships. MacPhail was a 1998 Inductee in Cooperstown, after his 45-year career as a front office executive. He passed away in Delray Beach, Florida, on November 8, 2012, at 95.

Lee MacPhail Jr., 1998 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, Cooperstown, New York.

Red Murff: From Texas to Gettysburg to Milwaukee and Caguas

Murff, a native Texan, was born on April 1, 1921. He attended Gettysburg College and played  the Gettysburg College Bullets, 1943, 1944, and 1946.. https://www.baseball-almanac.com/college/gettysburg_college_baseball_players.shtml  Per his SABR bio, https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/red-murff/ he played baseball at Maxwell Field, Alabama, as a member of the Army Air Corps team, in 1944, where he posted a .466 batting average. Murff briefly pitched for the 1956 and 1957 Milwaukee Braves (2-2 record in 1957). He pitched extensively in the minors and logged a 6-9 record in 124 innings for the 1958-59 Caguas Criollos, in Puerto Rico, whom he managed, 1966-67 season when he was a New York Mets super-scout. https://sabr.org/bioproj/person/red-murff/

Caguas had a “connection” to the New York Mets, then, as Jim Hickman, Ron Swoboda and Dick Selma were on Caguas’s 1966-67 roster, with two Mets minor-league prospects—Jerry Morales and Eduardo Figueroa, both signed by Mets scout Nino Escalera. Vic Power took over managing duties from Murff, December 18, 1966. “I managed Caguas (1959-60) before and was Murff’s 1958-59 teammate with Caguas,” recalled Power. “Nino Escalera, our coach, managed 1967-68 Caguas, when Cleon Jones played for Caguas. We made the (1966-67) playoffs, but lost to Ponce in the semi-finals.”

Murff scouted and signed Nolan Ryan, from Alvin, Texas, for the Mets, Ditto for Ken Boswell, Jerry Grote, and Jerry Koosman. Murff transitioned to the Montreal Expos. He scouted other future big leaguers, including Balor Moore, the lefty who pitched the only nine-inning perfect game in Puerto Rico’s Winter League, November 25, 1973, for the San Juan Senators, managed by Jim “Junior” Gilliam.

Final Thoughts

Table III includes the all-time, Top 40 career list of hurlers’ WHIP. Sixteen (40 percent) were inducted in Cooperstown. Mathewson (#9), Dick Hall (#26-tie), and Plank (#38) comprise a trio from Pennsylvania private colleges and universities.

Table III: Top 40 MLB Career WHIP, 1,000+ IP, through 2021

PitcherWHIPPitcherWHIP
Addie Joss0,9678Satchel Paige1.0920
Ed Walsh0.9996Babe Adams1.0920
Mariano Rivera1.0003Stephen Strasburg1.0926
Clayton Kershaw1.0042Corey Kluber1.1000
Jacob deGrom1.0114Juan Marichal1.1012
Chris Sale1.0423Dick Hall1.1019
John M. Ward1.0438Rube Waddell1.1019
Pedro Martínez1.0544Larry Corcoran1.1048
Christy Mathewson1.0581Deacon Phillippe1.1051
Trevor Hoffman1.0584Sandy Koufax1.1061
Walter Johnson1.0612Fred Glade1.1066
Mordecai Brown1.0658Ed Morris1.1075
Charlie Sweeney1.0673Will White1.1110
Reb Russell1.0800Gerrit Cole1.1115
Max Scherzer1.0837Chief Bender1.1127
Jim Devlin1.0868Charlie Ferguson1.1171
Smoky Joe Wood1.0869Terry Larkin1.1172
Jack Pfiester1.0887Eddie Plank1.1189
George Bradley1.0901Doc White1.1207
Tommy Bond1.0908Tom Seaver1.1208

Source: https://www.baseball-reference.com/leaders/whip_career.shtml

Thanks to Luis “Tite” Arroyo, Gary Ashwill, Jorge S. Figueredo, John Holway, Ralph Houk, Lee MacPhail, Jr., Vic Power and Paula Van Hyning. Jorge Colón Delgado edited the blog and did photo placements.

1 comentario en “Pennsylvania Private Colleges-Universities: Special Student-Athletes-Winter Ball (Part II)”

  1. Hi Tom. Happy New Year. I enjoyed reading about my first boss in the big leagues, Lee MacPhail. He was a very nice man. Two other umpires that worked in the Puerto Rican League recently passed away, Steve Palermo and Rick Reed. Mantante seguro

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