March 1 – Happy Early Birthday Don Schwall

Since no Red Sox past or present was born on the first day of March, we thought we’d recognize former Boston pitcher Don Schwall’s birthday, one day early. Passionate Red Sox fans who are at least as old as me will remember this native of Wilkes-Barre, PA well. He was a huge guy, six feet six inches tall who was an All-Big Eight basketball player at Oklahoma in the late fifties. He would become an All Star in his rookie season with Boston in 1961, even though he did not make the team in spring training.

That year, Boston Manager Pinky Higgins headed north with a starting rotation that consisted of Bill Monboquette, Gene Conley, Ike Delock, Tracy Stallard and Billy Muffett. Schwall was sent back to Seattle for more seasoning. The Red Sox got off to a slow start and in mid-May the call went out to bring Schwall up to Boston. It proved to be great timing. Big Don won his first five starts and finished the ’61 season with a sterling 15-7 record and a 3.22 ERA, capturing the AL Rookie of the Year Award. The only negative to his first big league season had been the 110 walks he gave up which worked out to an average of almost six free passes per game. You certainly couldn’t win very many games at the Major League level for long putting that many potential runners on base and Scwhall did not. His record fell to 9-15 his second year and his ERA was just short of five runs per nine innings pitched. The Red Sox gave up on him after that year and shipped him to Pittsburgh in the deal that brought Dick Stuart’s slugging bat and iron glove to Beantown. Scwall was born on March 2, 1936.

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