Herb Pennock

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Herb Pennock
Herb Pennock 1934.JPG
Pennock in 1934
Born:(1894-02-10)February 10, 1894
Kennett Square, Pennsylvania
Died: January 30, 1948(1948-01-30) (aged 53)
New York, New York
Batted: SwitchThrew: Left
MLB debut
May 14, 1912, for the Philadelphia Athletics
Last MLB appearance
August 27, 1934, for the Boston Red Sox
MLB statistics
Win–loss record 241–162
Earned run average 3.60
Strikeouts 1,227
Career highlights and awards
Member of the National
Empty Star.svgEmpty Star.svgEmpty Star.svg Baseball Hall of Fame Empty Star.svgEmpty Star.svgEmpty Star.svg
Induction 1948
Vote77.69% (eighth ballot)

Herbert Jefferis Pennock (February 10, 1894 – January 30, 1948) was an American professional baseball pitcher and front-office executive. He played in Major League Baseball from 1912 through 1933, and is best known for his time spent with the star-studded New York Yankee teams of the mid to late 1920s and early 1930s.

Professional baseball is played in leagues throughout the world. In these leagues and associated farm teams, baseball players are selected for their talents and are paid to play for a specific team or club system.

Pitcher the player responsible for throwing ("pitching") the ball to the batters in a game of baseball or softball

In baseball, the pitcher is the player who throws the baseball from the pitcher's mound toward the catcher to begin each play, with the goal of retiring a batter, who attempts to either make contact with the pitched ball or draw a walk. In the numbering system used to record defensive plays, the pitcher is assigned the number 1. The pitcher is often considered the most important player on the defensive side of the game, and as such is situated at the right end of the defensive spectrum. There are many different types of pitchers, such as the starting pitcher, relief pitcher, middle reliever, lefty specialist, setup man, and the closer.

Major League Baseball Professional baseball league

Major League Baseball (MLB) is a professional baseball organization, the oldest of the four major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada. A total of 30 teams play in the National League (NL) and American League (AL), with 15 teams in each league. The NL and AL were formed as separate legal entities in 1876 and 1901 respectively. After cooperating but remaining legally separate entities beginning in 1903, the leagues merged into a single organization led by the Commissioner of Baseball in 2000. The organization also oversees Minor League Baseball, which comprises 256 teams affiliated with the Major League clubs. With the World Baseball Softball Confederation, MLB manages the international World Baseball Classic tournament.


Connie Mack signed Pennock to his Philadelphia Athletics in 1912. After using Pennock sparingly, and questioning his competitive drive, Mack sold Pennock to the Boston Red Sox in 1915. After returning from military service in 1919, Pennock became a regular contributor for the Red Sox. The Yankees acquired Pennock from the Red Sox after the 1922 season, and he served as a key member of the pitching staff as the Yankees won four World Series championships during his tenure with the team. After retiring as a player, Pennock served as a coach and farm system director for the Red Sox, and as general manager of the Philadelphia Phillies.

Connie Mack American baseball manager and owner

Cornelius McGillicuddy, better known as Connie Mack, was an American professional baseball catcher, manager, and team owner. The longest-serving manager in Major League Baseball history, he holds records for wins (3,731), losses (3,948), and games managed (7,755), with his victory total being almost 1,000 more than any other manager.

Boston Red Sox Baseball team and Major League Baseball franchise in Boston, Massachusetts, United States

The Boston Red Sox are an American professional baseball team based in Boston, Massachusetts. The Red Sox compete in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member club of the American League (AL) East division. The Red Sox have won nine World Series championships, tied for the third-most of any MLB team, and they have played in 13. Their most recent appearance and win was in 2018. In addition, they won the 1904 American League pennant, but were not able to defend their 1903 World Series championship when the New York Giants refused to participate in the 1904 World Series. Founded in 1901 as one of the American League's eight charter franchises, the Red Sox' home ballpark has been Fenway Park since 1912. The "Red Sox" name was chosen by the team owner, John I. Taylor, circa 1908, following the lead of previous teams that had been known as the "Boston Red Stockings", including the forerunner of the Atlanta Braves.

The World Series is the annual championship series of Major League Baseball (MLB) in North America, contested since 1903 between the American League (AL) champion team and the National League (NL) champion team. The winner of the World Series championship is determined through a best-of-seven playoff, and the winning team is awarded the Commissioner's Trophy. As the series is played during the fall season in North America, it is sometimes referred to as the Fall Classic.

Pennock was regarded as one of the greatest left-handed pitchers in baseball history. Mack later called his sale of Pennock to the Red Sox his greatest mistake. Pennock died of a cerebral hemorrhage in 1948; later that year, he was posthumously inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Early life

Pennock was born on February 10, 1894, in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. His father, Theodore Pennock, and mother Mary Louise Pennock (née Sharp) were of Scotch-Irish and Quaker descent. [1] His ancestors came to the United States with William Penn. [2] Herb was the youngest of four children. [1]

Kennett Square, Pennsylvania Borough in Pennsylvania, United States

Kennett Square is a borough in Chester County, Pennsylvania, United States. It is known as the Mushroom Capital of the World because mushroom farming in the region produces over a million pounds of mushrooms a year, totaling half of the United States mushroom crop. To celebrate this heritage, Kennett Square has an annual Mushroom Festival, where the town shuts down to have a parade, tour mushroom farms, and buy and sell food and other goods. It is also home to the corporate headquarters of Genesis HealthCare which administers elderly care facilities. The local high school is Kennett High School. Its population was 6,072 at the 2010 census.

William Penn English real estate entrepreneur, philosopher, early Quaker and founder of the Province of Pennsylvania

William Penn was the son of Sir William Penn, and was an English nobleman, writer, early Quaker, and founder of the English North American colony the Province of Pennsylvania. He was an early advocate of democracy and religious freedom, notable for his good relations and successful treaties with the Lenape Native Americans. Under his direction, the city of Philadelphia was planned and developed.

Pennock attended Westtown School and Cedarcroft Boarding School, where he played for the baseball team. After struggling as a first baseman, with a weak offensive output and throwing arm that resulted in curved throws, his Cedarcroft coach converted Pennock into a pitcher. [1]

Westtown School

Westtown School is a Quaker, coeducational, college preparatory day and boarding school for students in pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade, located in eastern Pennsylvania.

First baseman defensive position in baseball and softball, played on the far right side of the infield at or near first base

First base, or 1B, is the first of four stations on a baseball diamond which must be touched in succession by a baserunner to score a run for that player's team. A first baseman is the player on the team playing defense who fields the area nearest first base, and is responsible for the majority of plays made at that base. In the numbering system used to record defensive plays, the first baseman is assigned the number 3.

Playing career

Philadelphia Athletics

While pitching at Cedarcroft, Pennock threw a no-hitter to catcher Earle Mack, the son of Connie Mack, manager of the Philadelphia Athletics, in 1910. Pennock agreed to sign with the Athletics at a later date. [3] Mack signed Pennock in 1912 to play for his collegiate team based in Atlantic City. Pennock's father insisted that he sign under an alias in order to protect his collegiate eligibility. Pennock threw a no-hitter against a traveling Negro league baseball team, and Mack promoted him to the Athletics. [1] Mack intended for Pennock to be one of the prospects who would replace star pitchers Eddie Plank, Chief Bender, and Jack Coombs. [4]

No-hitter also called a no-no, a baseball game in which a team was not able to record a single hit

In baseball, a no-hitter is a game in which a team was not able to record a single hit. Major League Baseball (MLB) officially defines a no-hitter as a completed game in which a team that batted in at least nine innings recorded no hits. A pitcher who prevents the opposing team from achieving a hit is said to have "thrown a no-hitter". This is a rare accomplishment for a pitcher or pitching staff: only 300 have been thrown in Major League Baseball history since 1876, an average of about two per year. In most cases in MLB, no-hitters are recorded by a single pitcher who throws a complete game; one thrown by two or more pitchers is a combined no-hitter. The most recent no-hitter by a single pitcher was thrown on May 7, 2019 by Mike Fiers of the Oakland Athletics against the Cincinnati Reds at Oakland Coliseum. The most recent combined no-hitter was thrown on May 4, 2018 by Walker Buehler, Tony Cingrani, Yimi Garcia, and Adam Liberatore of the Los Angeles Dodgers against the San Diego Padres at Estadio de Béisbol Monterrey.

Catcher defensive position in baseball and softball played behind home plate, facing the field

Catcher is a position for a baseball or softball player. When a batter takes his/her turn to hit, the catcher crouches behind home plate, in front of the (home) umpire, and receives the ball from the pitcher. In addition to this primary duty, the catcher is also called upon to master many other skills in order to field the position well. The role of the catcher is similar to that of the wicket-keeper in cricket, but in cricket, wicketkeepers are increasingly known for their batting abilities.

Earle Mack Major League Baseball player and coach

Earle Thaddeus Mack, was an American player and coach in Major League Baseball, and, during parts of two seasons, manager of the Philadelphia Athletics when his father, Connie Mack, was too ill to manage. He also became a part-owner of the franchise. His nephew Connie Mack III became a U.S. Senator.

Pennock made his major league debut with the Athletics during the 1912 season on May 14, allowing one hit in four innings pitched. [1] He was the youngest person to play in the American League (AL) that season. [5] Former major leaguer Mike Grady, a neighbor of Pennock's in Kennett Square, took Pennock under his wing, while Bender taught Pennock to throw a screwball. [1]

Pennock missed most of the 1913 season with an illness, but was able to rejoin the team late in the season. [1] [6] In the 1914 season, Pennock posted an 11–4 win–loss record with a 2.79 earned run average (ERA) in 151 23 innings pitched for the Athletics, and pitched three scoreless innings in the 1914 World Series, which the Athletics lost to the Boston Braves. Mack let Bender go after the season, naming Pennock his Opening Day starting pitcher in 1915. On Opening Day, Pennock threw a one-hit complete game shutout against the Boston Red Sox. [1] However, as the Athletics struggled, Pennock's nonchalant playing style drew Mack's ire. Concluding that Pennock "lacked ambition", Mack sold Pennock to the Red Sox for the waiver price of $2,500 ($61,916 in current dollar terms). [1] [7] Mack later regarded this sale as his greatest mistake. [8]

Boston Red Sox

With a deep pitching staff in place, the Red Sox loaned Pennock to the Providence Grays of the International League in August for the remainder of the 1915 season. [1] [9] He split the 1916 season between the Red Sox and the Buffalo Bisons, also in the International League. With Buffalo, Pennock pitched to a 1.67 ERA, as Buffalo won the league pennant. [10] Though the Red Sox won the 1915 and 1916 World Series, Pennock did not appear in either series. [11] [12]

Pitching in minor league baseball, Pennock began to regain confidence. [1] However, Boston manager Jack Barry used Pennock sparingly in the 1917 season, and Pennock enlisted in the United States Navy in 1918. [13] Pennock pitched for a team fielded by the Navy, defeating a team composed of members of the United States Army in an exhibition for George VI, the King of England, in Stamford Bridge. After the game, Ed Barrow, the new manager of the Red Sox, signed Pennock to a new contract after promising to use him regularly during the 1919 season. [1]

Pennock baseball card Pennock.jpg
Pennock baseball card

Pennock received only one start apiece in the months of April and May, as the 1919 Red Sox relied on George Dumont, Bill James, and Bullet Joe Bush, leading Pennock to threaten to quit in late-May unless Barrow fulfilled his earlier promise to Pennock. Barrow continued to use Pennock regularly after Memorial Day, [1] and Pennock finished the season with a 16–8 win-loss record and a 2.71 ERA in 219 innings pitched. He served as the team's ace pitcher in the 1920 season, but subsequently settled in as the Red Sox' third starter. [1] After the 1922 Red Sox campaign, in which he went 10–17, and had seven wild pitches, leading the AL, [14] the New York Yankees began to negotiate with the Red Sox to acquire Pennock. [15] The Yankees traded Norm McMillan, George Murray, and Camp Skinner to the Red Sox for Pennock that offseason. [16]

New York Yankees

Pennock pitched to a 19–6 win-loss record in the 1923 season, his first with the Yankees, leading the American League (AL) in winning percentage (.760) and finishing sixth in wins. [17] Pitching in the 1923 World Series, Pennock defeated the New York Giants in game two, on October 11, to end their eight-game World Series winning streak. [1] [18] He recorded a save in securing the Yankees' win in game four, and pitched to the win in game six on one day of rest, clinching the Yankees' first World Series championship. [1] [18] Umpire Billy Evans called it "the greatest pitching performance I have ever seen", as Pennock "had nothing." [1] [19]

In the 1924 season, he pitched to a 21–9 win-loss record with a 2.83 ERA while striking out a career-high 101 batters. His win total was second in the AL, behind Walter Johnson, while his ERA was third behind Johnson and Tom Zachary, and he finished fourth in strikeouts behind Johnson, Howard Ehmke, and teammate Bob Shawkey. [20] Pennock's 277 innings pitched and 1.220 walks plus hits per inning pitched (WHIP) ratio led the AL in the 1925 season, while his 2.96 ERA was second-best, behind Stan Coveleski. [21] In the 1926 season, he posted a career-high 23 wins, finishing second in the AL to George Uhle. He again led the AL in WHIP (1.265), and issued the fewest walks per nine innings pitched (1.453). [22] During the pennant race, The Sporting News called Pennock the "best left-hander in the majors". [1] Pennock earned the wins in game one and game five of the 1926 World Series. He finished game seven of the series, which the Yankees lost to the St. Louis Cardinals. [23]

Pennock, circa 1927 Herb Pennock 1927.jpeg
Pennock, circa 1927

The Yankees reached the World Series, facing the Pittsburgh Pirates. Pennock pitched a complete game against the Pirates in game three of the 1927 World Series, not allowing a hit until the eighth inning. Pennock's performance drew praise from teammate Babe Ruth. [24] The Yankees swept the series from Pittsburgh. [25] After pitching a three-hit shutout against the Red Sox on August 12, 1928, he missed the remainder of the season, including the 1928 World Series, with an arm injury. His five shutouts and 0.085 home runs per nine innings pitched led the AL. His 2.56 ERA trailed only Garland Braxton, while his 17 wins tied for eighth place. [26] Though the Yankees defeated the Cardinals in the 1928 World Series, [27] the Yankees' starting rotation without Pennock was likened to "a three-stringed ukulele." [1]

In the 1929 season, Pennock saw his pitching time and pitching quality diminish. Over the rest of his career, he never posted more than 189 innings pitched in a season and his ERA rose to over 4.00. He suffered from bouts of neuritis in 1929 and 1930. [28] Pennock won his 200th career game during the 1929 season, becoming the third left-handed pitcher to reach that mark. [1] He led the AL in walks per nine innings pitched in 1930 (1.151) [29] and 1931 (1.426). [30] Pennock pitched four innings of relief against the Chicago Cubs in the 1932 World Series, recording two saves. [31] The New York chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America named him their player of the year. [32]

In 1933, serving exclusively as a relief pitcher, Pennock had a 7–4 win-loss record in 23 appearances. [33] After the 1933 season, the Yankees honored Pennock with a testimonial dinner on January 6, 1934, and then gave him his release. [1] [32]

Return to Boston

Eddie Collins, a former teammate with the Athletics now serving as the general manager of the Red Sox, signed Pennock to their 1934 roster. [33] In his last season pitching in the major leagues, Pennock served as a relief pitcher for the Red Sox. [1]

Pennock retired with a career record of 241 wins, 162 losses, and a 3.60 ERA. Pennock pitched in five World Series, one with Philadelphia and four with New York. He was a member of four World Series championship teams. In World Series play, Pennock amassed a 5–0 career win-loss record with three saves, becoming the second pitcher to win five World Series games, after Coombs. [34] Pennock was a part of seven World Series championship teams (1913, 1915, 1916, 1923, 1927, 1928, and 1932), though he played in four World Series' as a member of the winning team. Many, including Mack, consider Pennock among the greatest left-handed pitchers of all time. [1] [8]

Post-playing career

Pennock became the general manager of the Charlotte Hornets, a Red Sox' farm team of the Piedmont League, prior to the 1935 season. [35] He returned to the Red Sox in 1936, serving as the first base and pitching coach under manager Joe Cronin. [36] He served in this role through the 1938 season. In 1939, Pennock served as the assistant supervisor of Boston's minor league system, reporting to Billy Evans. Pennock succeeded Evans as Director of Minor League Operations late in the 1940 season. [1] [37]

In December 1943, R. R. M. Carpenter Jr., the new owner of the Philadelphia Phillies, hired Pennock as his general manager, [38] after receiving a recommendation from Mack. Carpenter gave Pennock a lifetime contract. Pennock filled Carpenter's duties when the team's owner was drafted into service during World War II in 1944. As general manager, Pennock changed the team's name to the "Blue Jays"—a temporary measure abandoned after the 1949 season—and invested $1 million ($14,232,514 in current dollar terms) into players who would become known as the "Whiz Kids", who won the National League pennant in 1950, including Curt Simmons and Willie Jones. [1] He also created a "Grandstand Managers Club", the first in baseball history, allowing fans to give feedback to the team, [39] and advocated for the repeal of the Bonus Rule. [40]

Pennock opposed racial integration in baseball. [1] In 1947, when Jackie Robinson was signed to the Brooklyn Dodgers, Pennock called Dodgers team president Branch Rickey before the Dodgers' series in Philadelphia and told him not to "bring that nigger here with the rest of the team." [41] He further threatened to boycott a 1947 game between the Phillies and Dodgers if Robinson played. [42] [43]

In 1948, at the age of 53, one week and four days before his 54th birthday, Pennock collapsed in the lobby of the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel as a result of a cerebral hemorrhage. He was pronounced dead upon his arrival at Midtown Hospital. [44] Pennock had appeared to be in good health, even inviting friends to join him at Madison Square Garden to attend a boxing match, prior to being stricken. [45]


Pennock was honored with "Herb Pennock Day" on April 30, 1944, in Kennett Square. [1] Weeks after his death, Pennock was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. [46] An attempt to erect a statue in Kennett Square in his honor was blocked due to his support of segregation in baseball. [42] [43]

Fred Heimach, a teammate of Pennock, once called him the smartest ball player he knew. [47] In 1981, Lawrence Ritter and Donald Honig included Pennock in their book The 100 Greatest Baseball Players of All Time. He was inducted in the International League Hall of Fame in 1948. [10] Noted baseball photographer Charles M. Conlon considered Pennock one of his favorite subjects to photograph. [48]


Pennock was nicknamed "the Squire of Kennett Square." [4] [49] He married Esther M. Freck, his high school sweetheart and the younger sister of a childhood friend, on October 28, 1915. Esther often attended spring training and traveled with her husband's team during the season. Together, the couple had a daughter, Jane (born 1920), and a son, Joe (born 1925). Jane later married Eddie Collins Jr.. [50] While a member of the Yankees, Pennock rented an apartment on Grand Concourse in The Bronx, where his wife and children stayed while the Yankees played their home games. [1]

Pennock was a proficient horse rider. [51] He also raised hounds and silver foxes for their pelts. [49] [52] He also grew flowers and vegetables on his farm. [4]

See also

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  38. "Herb Pennock Takes Philly Position". The Pittsburgh Press. United Press International. November 30, 1943. p. 35. Retrieved September 8, 2012.
  39. "Grandstand Manager's Club Formed by Phils" . The Hartford Courant. September 2013. p. 19. Retrieved September 14, 2013.
  40. "Herb Pennock Raps Major League Bonus Rule. Phillies Head to Urge Law Repeal: Present Rule Called Drawback to Clubs, Players; Simmons May Be Test Case". Reading Eagle. Associated Press. October 28, 1947. p. 11. Retrieved September 14, 2013.
  41. John Manasso (1998-07-08). "Racial Issues Tarnish Hall Of Famer Tribute Chesco's Herb Pennock Was A Hero To Many, But Some Say He Didn't Always Act Like One". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved 2016-06-08.
  42. 1 2 "Herb Pennock: Racial stand snags statue plan". Star-News. July 18, 1998. p. 2A. Retrieved September 14, 2013.
  43. 1 2 Fulwood III, Sam (August 14, 1998). "Heroes of Yore May Not Be Evermore: Pennsylvania town's attempt to honor Ruth-era pitcher Herb Pennock draws fire over alleged racist remarks. Issue raises questions about standards used in judging others". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved September 12, 2013.
  44. "Herb Pennock Dies Suddenly: Phils' Official Collapses in Hotel". The Pittsburgh Press. United Press International. January 30, 1948. p. 26. Retrieved September 8, 2012.
  45. "Herb Pennock Dies: He Erased Futile From The Phillies". The Palm Beach Post. Associated Press. January 31, 1948. p. 6. Retrieved September 14, 2013.
  46. Hand, Jack (February 27, 1948). "Pitcher Herb Pennock, Buc's Pie Traynor Elected to Cooperstown Hall of Fame: Al Simmons Is Third in Writers' Vote". Deseret News. Associated Press. Retrieved September 8, 2012.
  47. Butler, Gul (September 21, 1943). "Herb Pennock Smartest Twirler". The Miami News. p. 2–B. Retrieved September 12, 2013.
  48. Williams, Joe (April 3, 1930). "Herb Pennock Photographs In Graceful Fashion". The Pittsburgh Press. p. 33. Retrieved September 12, 2013.
  49. 1 2 Carey, Art (March 28, 2008). "Baseball's other Hall of Fame At Burton's Barber Shop in Kennett Square, local stars are immortalized". philly.com . The Philadelphia Inquirer . Retrieved September 9, 2012.
  50. "Collins' Son Will Marry Daughter of Herb Pennock". The Milwaukee Journal. Associated Press. October 25, 1941. p. 2. Retrieved October 6, 2012.
  51. "Herb Pennock Is Some Jockey, As Well As A Real Pitcher". Boston Daily Globe. February 24, 1923. Retrieved September 10, 2012.(subscription required)
  52. Pegler, Westbrook (September 26, 1932). "Pennock Is a Foxy Fellow; He Raises Fancy Fox Furs". Chicago Daily Tribune. p. 21. Retrieved September 12, 2013.(subscription required)
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Jack Onslow
Boston Red Sox Pitching Coach
Succeeded by
Frank Shellenback
Preceded by
Philadelphia Phillies General Manager
Succeeded by
Bob Carpenter