Vic Willis

Last updated
Vic Willis
VicWillis.jpg
Pitcher
Born:(1876-04-12)April 12, 1876
Cecil County, Maryland
Died: August 3, 1947(1947-08-03) (aged 71)
Elkton, Maryland
Batted: RightThrew: Right
MLB debut
April 20, 1898, for the Boston Beaneaters
Last MLB appearance
September 5, 1910, for the St. Louis Cardinals
MLB statistics
Win–loss record 249–205
Earned run average 2.63
Strikeouts 1651
Teams
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 1995
Election Method Veteran's Committee

Victor Gazaway Willis (April 12, 1876 – August 3, 1947) was an American Major League Baseball pitcher during the 1890s and 1900s. In 14 seasons in the National League (NL), he pitched for the Boston Beaneaters, Pittsburgh Pirates, and St. Louis Cardinals. In 513 career games, Willis pitched 3,996 innings and posted a win–loss record of 249–205, with 388 complete games, 50 shutouts, and a 2.63 earned run average (ERA). Nicknamed the "Delaware Peach", he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1995.

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.

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.

National League Baseball league, part of Major League Baseball

The National League of Professional Baseball Clubs, known simply as the National League (NL), is the older of two leagues constituting Major League Baseball (MLB) in the United States and Canada, and the world's oldest current professional team sports league. Founded on February 2, 1876, to replace the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players (NAPBBP) of 1871–1875, the NL is sometimes called the Senior Circuit, in contrast to MLB's other league, the American League, which was founded 25 years later.

Contents

Early life

Willis was born on April 12, 1876 in Cecil County, Maryland. He moved to Newark, Delaware as a young boy, where he attended school. He attended high school at Newark Academy, and played both on the high school baseball team and in semi-pro baseball leagues throughout Delaware. [1] Prior to joining the major leagues, Willis played football and baseball for University of Delaware, then known as Delaware College, despite never attending the college. This was due to their low enrollment at the time, which allowed them to add local talent to fill out their roster. [2]

Cecil County, Maryland County in the United States

Cecil County is a county located in the U.S. state of Maryland. As of the 2010 census, the population was 101,108. The county seat is Elkton. The county was named for Cecil Calvert, 2nd Baron Baltimore (1605–1675), the first Proprietary Governor of the Province (colony) of Maryland. It is the only Maryland county that is part of the Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington, PA-NJ-DE-MD Metropolitan Statistical Area. Cecil County has existed since the late 1600s, though it continued to grow in population and town size.

Newark, Delaware City in Delaware, United States

Newark is a city in New Castle County, Delaware, United States. It is located 12 miles (19 km) west-southwest of Wilmington. According to the 2010 Census, the population of the city is 31,454. Newark is home to the University of Delaware.

American football Team field sport

American football, referred to as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven players on a rectangular field with goalposts at each end. The offense, which is the team controlling the oval-shaped football, attempts to advance down the field by running with or passing the ball, while the defense, which is the team without control of the ball, aims to stop the offense's advance and aims to take control of the ball for themselves. The offense must advance at least ten yards in four downs, or plays, and otherwise they turn over the football to the defense; if the offense succeeds in advancing ten yards or more, they are given a new set of four downs. Points are primarily scored by advancing the ball into the opposing team's end zone for a touchdown or kicking the ball through the opponent's goalposts for a field goal. The team with the most points at the end of a game wins.

Willis began his professional baseball career in 1895 with the Harrisburg Senators of the Pennsylvania State League. After the team ceased operations in June, he moved to the Lynchburg Hill Climbers of the Virginia State League. The following year, he was promoted to the Syracuse Stars of the Eastern League. He finished the season with a 10–6 win-loss record, but had spent most of the season battling illness, which caused him to end his season in July. [1] Willis returned to the Stars for the 1897 season and, after establishing a curveball in the offseason, finished the season with 21 wins, with Syracuse winning the league championship in the process. After the season ended, Willis was purchased by the Boston Beaneaters for Fred Lake and $1,000. [1] The Beaneaters acquired Willis to fill the void left by Jack Stivetts, who was near retirement due to an arm injury. [3]

The Harrisburg Senators was originally a name given to several minor league baseball clubs between 1893 and 1952. The name is also currently used by the modern-day team in the Double-A Eastern League, since 1987.

The Pennsylvania State League played from 1892–1895, then changed into the first Atlantic League.

The Virginia League (1894-1896) was a minor league baseball organization active in central Virginia. In 1894 it fielded six teams: the Lynchburg Hill Climbers, the Norfolk Clam Eaters, the Petersburg Farmers, the Richmond Crows, the Roanoke Magicians, and the Staunton Hayseeds/Newport News-Hampton Deckhands. In 1895, the league was rated class B. The teams during the 1895 season were the Lynchburg Hill Climbers, the Norfolk Clams/Crows, the Petersburg Farmers, the Portsmouth Truckers, the Richmond Blue Birds, and the Roanoke Magicians. In 1896, the Norfolk team became the Braves, the Portsmouth team became the Browns and then moved to Hampton and became the Clamdiggers.

Career

Willis began his major league career with the Beaneaters on April 20, 1898 in a relief appearance against the Baltimore Orioles, allowing eight runs, three walks, and a wild pitch in an 18–2 loss while also hitting two batters. In his next appearance, he beat the Washington Senators, 11–4, in his first career start. He remained in the starting rotation throughout the season, but at times struggled with his control. In one game against the Philadelphia Phillies, opposing pitcher Red Donahue threw a no-hitter, while Willis allowed eight walks in a 5–0 loss. [4] He finished the season with 25 wins, 13 losses, a 2.84 ERA, 148 walks, and 160 strikeouts. He finished second in walks and third in strikeouts in the National League. [5]

Run (baseball) run scored in baseball

In baseball, a run is scored when a player advances around first, second and third base and returns safely to home plate, touching the bases in that order, before three outs are recorded and all obligations to reach base safely on batted balls are met or assured. A player may score by hitting a home run or by any combination of plays that puts him safely "on base" as a runner and subsequently brings him home. The object of the game is for a team to score more runs than its opponent.

Base on balls in baseball, reaching base on four balls

A base on balls (BB), also known as a walk, occurs in baseball when a batter receives four pitches that the umpire calls balls, and is in turn awarded first base without the possibility of being called out. The base on balls is defined in Section 2.00 of baseball's Official Rules, and further detail is given in 6.08(a). It is, however, considered a faux pas for a professional player to actually walk to first base; the batter-runner and any advancing runners normally jog on such a play.

Willis wearing a catcher's mask, circa 1900. Vic Willis Catcher's Mask.jpg
Willis wearing a catcher's mask, circa 1900.

Despite being a Hall of Fame pitcher, Willis holds the post-1900 record for most losses in a single season (29, in 1905). [6] For the three seasons from 1903 to 1905, Willis compiled a dismal record with the Boston Beaneaters of 42 wins against 72 losses. However, his ERA during those three years averaged 3.02 and in two of those years his ERA was under 3.00. Despite Willis' performance on the mound during those three seasons, the Boston offense could only muster a combined .238 batting average over those seasons. When he changed teams to the Pittsburgh Pirates for 1906, whose offense had a combined batting average of .256 over the four years Willis was with the team, Willis compiled a record of 88–46. His ERA for those four years was 2.08.

Earned run average

In baseball statistics, earned run average (ERA) is the mean of earned runs given up by a pitcher per nine innings pitched. It is determined by dividing the number of earned runs allowed by the number of innings pitched and multiplying by nine. Runs resulting from defensive errors are recorded as unearned runs and omitted from ERA calculations.

Pittsburgh Pirates Baseball team and Major League Baseball franchise in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States

The Pittsburgh Pirates are an American professional baseball team based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Pirates compete in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member club of the National League (NL) Central division. The Pirates play their home games at PNC Park; the team previously played at Forbes Field and Three Rivers Stadium, the latter of which was named after its location near the confluence of the Allegheny, Monongahela, and Ohio Rivers. Founded on October 15, 1881 as Allegheny, the franchise has won five World Series championships. The Pirates are also often referred to as the "Bucs" or the "Buccos".

Willis was on one World Series championship team, the 1909 Pirates. He lost one game during the Series, pitching against Ty Cobb's Detroit Tigers. [5]

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.

The 1909 Pittsburgh Pirates season was the 28th season for the Pittsburgh Pirates franchise, during which they won the National League pennant with a record of 110–42 and their first World Series over the Detroit Tigers. Led by shortstop Honus Wagner and outfielder-manager Fred Clarke, the Pirates scored the most runs in the majors. Wagner led the league in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and runs batted in. Pirates owner Barney Dreyfuss opened the Pirates' new ballpark, named Forbes Field, on June 30, 1909.

Ty Cobb American baseball player

Tyrus Raymond Cobb, nicknamed The Georgia Peach, was an American Major League Baseball (MLB) outfielder. He was born in rural Narrows, Georgia. Cobb spent 22 seasons with the Detroit Tigers, the last six as the team's player-manager, and finished his career with the Philadelphia Athletics. In 1936 Cobb received the most votes of any player on the inaugural Baseball Hall of Fame ballot, receiving 222 out of a possible 226 votes (98.2%); no other player received a higher percentage of votes until Tom Seaver in 1992. In 1999, editors at the Sporting News ranked Ty Cobb third on their list of "Baseball's 100 Greatest Players".

His final major league season was 1910, with the St. Louis Cardinals. Next season Willis pitched for a semipro team in his hometown Newark, Delaware. [7]

Later life

After retirement, Willis purchased and operated the Washington House, a hotel in his hometown of Newark, Delaware. Willis died in 1947 and is interred in St. John Cemetery in Newark, Delaware. [5]

The National Baseball Hall of Fame inducted Vic Willis in 1995, as the Delaware Sports Museum and Hall of Fame had done in 1977. He was the last pitcher to throw a no-hitter in the 19th century.

See also

Notes

  1. 1 2 3 Levitt, Daniel R. "Vic Willis". The Baseball Biography Project. The Society for American Baseball Research. Retrieved August 10, 2010.
  2. Fleitz, 177
  3. Fleitz, 178
  4. Fleitz, 179
  5. 1 2 3 "Vic Willis Statistics and History". Baseball-Reference.com. Sports Reference, LLC. Retrieved August 10, 2010.
  6. Burke, Larry (1995). The Baseball Chronicles - A Decade-by-Decade History of the All-American Pastime. New York, NY: Smithmark Publishing. p. 18. ISBN   0831706805.
  7. Lanctot, Neil (1994). Fair Dealing and Clean Playing: the Hilldale Club and the development of black professional baseball, 1910–1932. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland. p. 10. ISBN   0-89950-988-6.

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References

Achievements
Preceded by
Deacon Phillippe
No-hitter pitcher
August 7, 1899
Succeeded by
Noodles Hahn