After sitting out the season, he came back as a converted outfielder and played another five years for the Cleveland Indians before retiring to coach the Yale University baseball team. With details culled from interviews and family archives, this biography, the first of this rugged player of the Deadball Era, brings to life one of the genuine characters of baseball history.
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'Smoky' Joe Wood Provides A Voice From The Past
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Excellent biography of one of the forgotten stars of the deadball era. The author exhaustively researched Joe Wood, relying on much information provided by Joe's son. This book will stand as the definitive authority on Joe Wood and corrects several errors reported over the years in other publications.
Clearly a labor of love, the book still treats subjects evenly and with little prejudice. One of the better baseball biographies that I have ever read. Benjamin baschinsky rated it really liked it Apr 05, Chip rated it it was amazing Apr 22, Steve rated it really liked it Sep 06, Jessica rated it really liked it Apr 01, Pocosnoopy rated it liked it Jun 15, Brendon Desrochers rated it it was ok Dec 29, Jacob rated it liked it Jan 31, Chris rated it liked it Aug 25, John Dimoia rated it really liked it Mar 26, Michael Dreimiller rated it really liked it Feb 26, Mark Brewer rated it really liked it Jan 16, Roger rated it liked it Jan 06, Diane rated it really liked it Jun 01, Larry V rated it it was amazing Mar 31, Bob rated it liked it Nov 11, JK Thomas rated it really liked it Mar 06, Lee Ballanfant rated it really liked it Nov 28, Kyle rated it it was amazing Dec 11, But no tape was found — until Mooney decided to really clean his basement over the holidays.
He sent the following email in January:. I got my hands on a machine that would play a cassette, still on sale at Radio Shack, and we met at Foley's on Feb. Would it be exploring the Titanic? Or opening Al Capone 's vault?
Smoky Joe Wood
Only one way to find out. We played the tape, cringed at our intro as a couple of our friends laughed, and then my first question, asking him to name his most memorable game, was met with "they're all alike. Wood wouldn't talk, for some reason, about his famous pitching duel with Walter Johnson on Sept. They had pictures of the whole thing. The American League season ended early, a week before the National League , and the American League team had to stay in condition for the World Series, so they picked an All-Star team for the first time back in and I was lucky enough to be picked for it and I have a whole set of pictures.
In , indeed, American League players formed an All-Star team and volunteered to play in Cleveland on an off day in July to raise money for the late Addie Joss' family. I looked it up. Wood, 22, started the game, and Walter Johnson relieved him. The AL season ended on Oct. The All-Star team re-assembled to play the AL champion Athletics in three exhibition games during the layoff. I pitched against him many a time. I just pitched and prayed. He hit me as well as he hit anybody else, I imagine, but he didn't take credit for any of that. Old Sam Crawford hit me harder than Ty Cobb did, on that same ballclub.
But Ty could hit 'em all. We had to catch the ball. Now the ball hits the glove and, bingo, it just sticks there. In those days, the glove didn't collapse around the ball like it does now. You didn't see the backhand stuff then that you did now. Wood, in his way, acknowledged that expansion, there were then 26 teams, had watered down the talent in baseball, but the inclusion of African-American players beginning with Jackie Robinson in had changed the game for the better. In my day there were two eight-club leagues, and my God, there weren't enough good, top-notch ballplayers for every club.
With this many more clubs, there are fewer, though now there are [African-American] players and they fill out a lot of the teams. Born in Kansas City, he played as a teenager, dressed in drag, with "The Bloomer Girls," a barnstorming team. In the minor leagues, his blazing fastball became known throughout the Midwest and by , barely 19, he was pitching for the Boston Red Sox.
In , he was one of the best pitchers in the league, winning 23 games, and in he had his Gold Watch season, etched forever in baseball history, if not formally on a plaque in Cooperstown. Over the next few years, he was effective when he could pitch — he won the ERA title with 1. In , after a contract dispute with the with the Red Sox's new owner, Harry Frazee — maybe you've heard of him? He later became an outfielder and played until , helping the Indians win the World Series in and hitting.
Then Wood retired and became the baseball coach at Yale, which is why he settled just a few blocks from Yale Field and The Bowl. When I was [coaching Yale], they didn't go out and recruit like they do now.
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They recruit in every sport now, it's become something bigger. I'd have played for nothing if we could have, if we could have lived by it.
They had coaches for no one. Now, they have a coach for all parts of the game, catchers, pitchers, fielders, base runners and so on. And Babe was all right. He was all right. He joined us in , and they sent him down to Providence , and he came back in and he made a three or four starts and didn't make the grade.
We beat the Phillies in the World Series and he wasn't even in the series. I stayed on the farm because my arm was too bad. And then they got this theatrical bird in there, Frazee, and he just sold the ballclub out. Frazee, that theatrical bird, sold Ruth to the Yankees in Wood finished his career with a.
It was no surprise, the idea of pitchers not getting to come to bat, the DH then in its ninth season, did not sit well.
Smoky Joe Wood: The Biography of a Baseball Legend by Gerald C. Wood
They can still hit — that's the last thing that goes. The legs start to go first, they can go bad. Though he felt somewhat forgotten, snubbed by Hall of Fame voters, as he approached his 92nd birthday, time has shown the legend has far outlived the man. Today, the Connecticut Chapter of the Society of Baseball Research is named for Smoky Joe Wood, and there have been campaigns now and again to recognize his remarkable, unique career with induction to the Hall of Fame. The case against him, while he was on the writers ballot or considered by various committees, was simply that he did not pitch long enough to acquire benchmark numbers, like wins.