Thursday, June 12, 2014

MLB Week 11 - Remembering Nuxy

Joe Nuxhall 1957.png

by: Dan Howard
Staff Writer

Last week I wrote about the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion. This past Tuesday, June 10th another 70th anniversary passed, the day the youngest player in major league history stood atop the mound at Crosley Field and faced the mighty St. Louis Cardinals. At 15 years and 316 days old, Joe Nuxhall took the ball, with the Reds trailing 13 – 0, and had a less than stellar debut. Nuxhall would say later about his debut, “I was pitching against seventh, eighth, and ninth graders, kids 13 and 14 years old. All of a sudden, I look up and there’s Stan Musial and the likes. It was a very scary situation.”

The “Ol Lefthander” started strong, retiring the first batter he faced, Cardinal shortstop George Fallon, and then promptly surrendered five runs, on two hits, five walks and a wild pitch before Reds manager Bill McKechnie saw enough. Nuxhall was sent to the minors the next day. Joe didn’t let the disappointment of his debut get him down; he worked himself back to the majors and subsequently into all Cincinnati fans hearts as a legendary radio announcer who belongs in the Broadcasters Wing of the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Back in 2006 I had the pleasure to be in attendance at Great American Ballpark the evening the Reds honored Joe’s then 62 seasons in baseball. “Nuxy” looked great in the convertible he was riding in, and when he passed where I was sitting, I tipped my hat to him out of respect. Whether he saw what I did or not, he did seem to have a more enthusiastic wave in our direction, I felt I needed to let him know how much I appreciated him. To quote the closing of a letter I posted on the Reds website titled “The ‘Ol Lefthander – My Uncle” a few days after Joe’s death; “although I never met him, I knew him all my life.”

Useless Trivia; Nuxhall wasn’t the only Reds pitcher making his big league debut on June 10, 1944. When Bill McKechnie went to the bullpen to relieve “Nuxy”, he called on Jake Eisenhart to record the final out of the inning. It would be the only time Eisenhart would appear in a major league baseball game.

From The You Can’t Steal First Base Department; Through Wednesday night’s game the Reds have a seven game winning streak in games Billy Hamilton steals a base. For 2014 the Reds are currently 15 – 4 when Hamilton steals at least one base.

More Useless Trivia; Can you guess which National League team has the best record at Great American Ballpark? It’s the New York Mets, winning sixty percent of their games, 21 of 35, played at G.A.B.P.

Major League Baseball teams are suffering their own version of the “Cuban Missile Crisis”. Prior to Aroldis Chapman’s return to the Reds, the bullpen had an E.R.A. of 4.80 in 33 appearances. Since the “Cuban Missile’s” 2014 debut on May 11, the Reds bullpen boasts an E.R.A. of 3.11 in 28 appearances. Chapman, through Thursday afternoon, has not allowed a run in his last ten appearances. His streak of 22 consecutive batters retired ended with a leadoff walk to the Dodgers Matt Kemp in the ninth inning of Thursday’s win. Did I mention that he has thrown more pitches over 100mph (that’s 162km/h for my friends in Canada) this season.

I really think Alfredo Simon should get some serious consideration for the National League Cy Young Award.

I’m hearing rumors of some kind of obscure soccer tournament beginning this week, is that true?

Personally, I like the camouflage uniforms the Reds were wearing on Wednesday night.

Yes, I do live in West Virginia, and no I don’t know Troy Sexton of Putnam County. After reading an article on this website about Sexton’s arrest Tuesday night at Great American Ball Park, I really don’t care if I ever meet him.

Viva Cueto! Johnny Cueto’s 109 strikeouts in his first 14 starts of a season are the most by any Reds pitcher since 1900, eclipsing the 107 K’s by Mario Soto in 1982 and Gary Nolan in 1967.

In Cincinnati’s 5 – 0 win Wednesday night vs. the Dodgers, Cueto became the fourth Reds pitcher since 1914 to record twelve strikeouts in a game while pitching only six innings. Edinson Volquez, Dennys Reyes, and Jim Maloney are the others.

Just like fellow New Jersey native Frank Sinatra, Todd Frazier is doing it “My Way”, Frazier currently leads National League third basemen in homers, slugging percentage, stolen bases, and extra base hits. Will 2014 be Frazier’s first as an All-Star?

Speaking of third basemen, is Baltimore’s Manny Machado a prime example of “The Oriole Way”? In case you missed it, last Friday, Machado took exception to the tag Oakland A’s third baseman Josh Donaldson applied. Machado threw his helmet and exchanged some heated words with Donaldson. In Sunday’s game after getting plunked by a pitch, Machado promptly threw his bat in the direction of Donaldson, emptying both benches. Machado has apologized for his actions and has five days, compliments of M.L.B., to think about it.

Words of advice to Manny Machado, if you don’t want to get tagged hard, then don’t dance around the base paths trying to avoid it.

Pardon me for saying but if Zack Cozart’s offense was as good as his defense, he’d be the leading candidate for this year’s National League’s Most Valuable Player.

In the Reds 6 – 4 win at Arizona on May 30, catcher Devin Mesoraco joined Andy Seminick, Smokey Burgess and Johnny Bench as the only catchers in Reds history to hit two home runs, including a grand slam, in the same game.

If the Indians’ Lonnie Chisenhall has many more games like he did in Monday’s 17 – 7 rout of Texas, Cleveland sports fans will soon forget about “Ol’ What’s His Name” who left the Cavaliers to mire in anonymity somewhere in the Deep South. Chisenhall’s five for five evening included three home runs and nine runs batted in. Chisenhall joined the Dodgers Gil Hodges, the Reds Walker Cooper, and the Red Sox Fred Lynn as the only players to collect at least five hits, drive in nine runs and hit three home runs in a game.

Have a blessed week and a happy Father’s Day. GO REDS!!!!

Dan Howard

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