Monday, November 19, 2007

RIP Joe Nuxhall

Cincinnati Reds legend Joe Nuxhall (the name is Latin for "Hall of Nuts"*) died following a long battle with cancer on Thursday night. Needless to say, I didn't read anything about this until today because the entire baseball news world was busy screeching about Barry Bonds and A-Rod, both of whom managed to monopolize baseball news for pretty much the entire season and apparently are not letting that status go without a fight. Joe Nuxhall had a career ERA of 3.90 over 15 seasons and still holds the record for being the youngest player ever to appear in a major league game -- he took the mound on June 10, 1944 at the tender age of 15. His debut was actually pretty terrible, given that he gave up 5 runs on 5 walks, 2 hits, and a wild pitch in just 2/3 of an inning (yep, that's a 67.50 ERA, which is probably still better than Chan Ho Park's career ERA at this point). He returned to the Reds in 1952 after spending a few years honing his skills and undergoing puberty, and went on to have a career that made him a 2-time NL All-Star and included a phenomenal 5-shutout season in 1955.

If I ever had spent any time in Ohio, which I haven't and hopefully never will, I would know Nuxhall best as the broadcasting voice of the Reds since 1967. He was known for his signature sign-off phrase, "This is the Ol' Lefthander, rounding third and heading for home."

In an era of giant-headed mutants who hijack the most esteemed of records and big-lipped pretty boys with massive senses of entitlement, it's nice to take a moment to honor someone who possessed not only an obviously tremendous natural ability, but a deep reverence for the game of baseball. Rest in peace, Joe Nuxhall. May the afterlife find you in a world where the Reds are still good, Pete Rose never happened, and baseball is about the love of the game.

* Note: not actually true.

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