Friday, December 16, 2011

Unpossible Autograph Friday- Harvey Haddix

(Every Friday I profile a former Oriole who has passed away. I've substituted the word unpossible for impossible as an homage to a line from "The Simpsons". Young Ralph Wiggum, who is a pennies short of a dollar, says "Me fail English? That's unpossible.")

This week's unpossible autograph is of Harvey Haddix, a man who many think threw the best game in Major League history. On May 26, 1959, while pitching for the Pirates, Harvey threw a perfect game for twelve innings, before he gave up a hit and a run in the thirteenth inning and lost the game 1-0. He retired a Major League record 36 consecutive Milwaukee Braves hitters, which was no small feat since the Braves were one of the best hitting teams of the era. His record has stood the test of time and is very unlikely ever to be surpassed since many of today's pitchers can't even last nine innings, let alone twelve. His Pirates teammates felt awful that they hadn't been able to score him a single run to put his perfect game in the record books.

Harvey pitched in the Majors from 1952-65 with the St. Louis Cardinals ('52-'56), Philadelphia Phillies ('56-'57), Cincinnati Redlegs ('58), Pittsburgh Pirates ('59-'63), and Baltimore Orioles ('64-'65). He likely would've began his big league career earlier but he spent 1951 in the military during the Korean War. Over his fourteen season career, Harvey was an All-Star for three consecutive seasons from 1953-'55, won a World Series with the Pirates in 1960, was the Rookie of the Year runner-up in 1953, and won three consecutive Gold Gloves from 1958-'60. He very likely could have won more Gold Gloves but the first year the award was handed out was 1957, almost halfway through his career.

Haddix was exclusively a reliever by the time he arrived in Baltimore in 1964 and pitched well for two seasons before retiring. After his playing days were over, he became a pitching coach for the Mets, Reds, Red Sox, Indians, and Pirates

Early in his career with the Cardinals, he earned the nickname "Kitten" because he looked so much like older teammate Harry "The Cat" Brecheen (who later became the Orioles first pitching coach in 1954 and still held the position when Harvey pitched for the O's in the mid-'60s).

Harvey developed emphysema and passed away in 1994 at the age of 68. Even if it doesn't count as an official perfect game, I would have a hard time arguing that your masterpiece on May 26, 1959 wasn't the greatest game ever thrown. RIP Harvey.


unclemoe said...

Dude's got some crazy eyes.


Anonymous said...

Would love to qwn a card with Harvey's auto on it.

Orioles Magic said...

moe- you're right on that one.

wicked- it took me a while to find an O's autograph of his, but from what I remember, some autographed cards from his coaching days were relatively easy to find.