Remembering Hoyt Wilhelm

Hoyt WilhelmHall of Famer Hoyt Wilhelm, who passed away in 2002, may be one of the best knuckleballers in baseball history.  Today would have been his 93rd birthday.   His career spanned from 1952 until 1972; he was just a few weeks short of his 50th birthday when he pitched in his last MLB game.  I had certainly followed his career – he won 12 games with the 1954 Giants, and he had spent six years with the White Sox, my hometown team.  I hit against him only once: it was July 11, 1968 at County Stadium in Chicago.  He entered the game in relief of Gary Peters in the top of the fifth, with the Yankees leading the White Sox 3-1.  He struck me out, but I still got the win.  The first time we pitched in the same game was on June 26, 1966 – my rookie season.  The Yankees had a 2-0 lead and Hoyt came in relief of Joe Horlen to pitch the bottom of the eighth.  He retired Bobby Richardson, Tom Tresh and Joe Pepitone rather quickly.   I like to think I pitched well: a complete game, five strikeouts, and the first shutout of my career.  So of course, I will always remember that game.

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