April 24 – Happy Birthday Howard Ehmke

hehmkeBorn in Silver Creek, NY, a little village located on the shores of Lake Erie, Howard Ehmke was a 6’3″ right-handed pitcher who caught the attention of big league scouts with a stellar 31-7 season for the 1916 Syracuse Stars, a B-level minor league team in the old New York State League. That got him signed by the Tigers and he spent the next six seasons as a very effective starting pitcher for some Detroit ball clubs that were not that good.

Right after the 1922 season ended, the Tigers made a six player deal with the Red Sox that brought Ehmke to Boston. All he did was throw 316 innings and win 20 games for a Red Sox team that finished dead last in the 1923 AL standings. To prove that wasn’t a fluke, he went 19-17 the following year and gave Boston 315 more innings of his right arm. In 1926, the Red Sox had one of the worst seasons in franchise history, finishing the year with a 47-105 record. Though Ehmke lost 20 games that year, the rest of the league knew he would do much better on a good team. That team turned out to be Connie Mack’s A’s, who acquired Ehmke about half-way through the ’27 season.

Finally part of an elite team, Ehmke went 40-24 during his next four seasons in Philadelphia and won Game 1 of the 1929 World Series. He finished his big league career in 1930 at the age of 36. His lifetime record was 166-166 and included 20 career shutouts. The following winter he started the Ehmke Manufacturing Company, which produced the first infield tarps ever used by Major League baseball. The company is still in operation today. Ehmke died in 1959, at the age of 64.

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