1913 National Game
Born on this date 1889, Boston Red Sox Hall of Famer Smokey Joe Wood. This was another card I picked up over the last year. Out of all my Pre-War graded cards, this one is my highest graded specimen. It’s a beautiful card of what could have been an all-time great pitcher.
Smokey was by no means large or overpowering, standing just under six feet tall and weighing in at 180 pounds. Concealed in that lanky frame was one of the most overpowering fastballs of the Deadball Era. He anchored the 1912 World Series Champion Red Sox, by going 34-5 with a 1.91 ERA, 35 complete games, and 10 shutouts! Oh, he also threw 344 innings too.
Wood’s reign as one of the most dominating pitchers in baseball history lasted a mere two seasons. And while brief, he left an indelible impression on those who saw his greatness first-hand.
“Without a doubt, Joe Wood was one of the best pitchers I ever faced throughout my entire career.”
– Ty Cobb, Detroit Tigers Hall of Famer
One of those dominating appearances occurred on July 29, 1911 when Smokey no-hit the St. Louis Browns 5-0. It would be the fifth such feat thrown by a Boston hurler in the early years of the fledgling American League.
His heavy usage would lead to arm troubles. Fast forward to 1915 when he led the American League with a career best 1.49 ERA, in just 157.1 innings of work. Those fears arose in early October when Joe was seen clinging to his shoulder in pain in his final start of the summer, a 3-1 loss to Walter Johnson. He did not factor into Boston’s 4 games to 1 World Series victory over Philadelphia two weeks later.
The Deadball Era is replete with story upon story of pitchers whose careers were cut short by shoulders torn to shreds. Smokey Joe Wood would be elected to the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame in it’s 1995 inaugural class.
“I was the king of the hill, top of the heap, right along with the very best.”
– Smokey Joe Wood, Boston Red Sox