Freddie Fitzsimmons

Frederick Landis Fitzsimmons (July 28, 1901 – November 18, 1979) was an American professional baseball right-handed pitcher, manager, and coach, who played in Major League Baseball (MLB) from 1925 to 1943 with the New York Giants and Brooklyn Dodgers. Nicknamed "Fat Freddie" (he carried as much as 205 pounds (93 kg) on his 5 feet 11 inches (1.80 m) frame),[1] and known for his mastery of the knuckle curve, Fitzsimmons' 217 wins were the third most by a National League (NL) right-hander in the period from 1920 to 1955, trailing only Burleigh Grimes and Paul Derringer. In 1940 he set an NL record, which stood until 1959, with a single-season winning percentage of .889 (16–2). He was an agile fielder in spite of his heavy build, holding the major league record for career double plays (79) from 1938 to 1964, and tying another record by leading the league in putouts four times; he ranked eighth in NL history in putouts (237) and ninth in fielding percentage (.977) when his career ended.

Born in Mishawaka, Indiana, Fitzsimmons broke in with the Giants in August 1925, posting a 6–3 record over the rest of the year. After seasons of 14 and 17 wins, he earned a career-high 20 victories in 1928, a year which saw the arrival of teammate Carl Hubbell; until Fitzsimmons' departure in 1937, the two formed a formidable left-right combination at the heart of the Giants' staff. In 1930 he led the NL in winning percentage for the first time with a 19–7 record (.731), and an 18–11 season followed in 1931. In 1933, the first full season after Bill Terry took over from John McGraw as manager, he won 16 games with a 2.90 earned run average as the Giants won the NL pennant; in the 1933 World Series against the Washington Senators, he suffered a 4–0 defeat in Game 3, though it was New York's only loss as they captured their first title since 1922.

Fitzsimmons had another 18-win season in 1934, and led the NL in putouts for the fourth time, tying Grover Cleveland Alexander's major league mark. However, his career then began to plateau. He had years of 4–8 and 10–7 in 1935 and 1936, with the Giants winning the NL pennant again the latter year; he led the NL in shutouts in 1935, blanking opponents in all 4 of his victories. His troubles returned in the 1936 World Series against the New York Yankees; he lost Game 3 by a 2–1 score, and was bombarded in the final Game 6 loss, leaving in the fourth inning while trailing 5–2. After a 6–10 start in 1937, he was traded to the Dodgers in June for reliever Tom Baker, who made only 15 appearances for the Giants. Brooklyn shortstop Leo Durocher praised his new teammate's competitiveness, saying, "I wish we had nine guys like Fitz. We'd never lose." Though his record in 19381939 totaled only 18–17, in 1938 he tied Grimes' mark of 74 career double plays, passing him the following year; Warren Spahn broke his record in 1964. He came back in 1940 with a 16–2 campaign, finishing fifth in the MVP voting. His .889 winning percentage broke the NL record of .842 (16–3) shared by Tom L. Hughes (1916 Boston Braves) and Emil Yde (1924 Pittsburgh Pirates), and stood until Roy Face posted an 18–1 mark (.947) with the 1959 Pirates.

Fitzsimmons made only 12 starts in 1941, going 6–1 as the Dodgers won their first pennant since 1920. He almost earned his long-elusive World Series victory against the Yankees, holding them to four hits through seven innings in Game 3. But he was forced to leave with a 0–0 score after being struck in the kneecap by a line drive hit by Marius Russo, which caromed into Pee Wee Reese's glove to end the inning. His replacement surrendered two runs in the eighth, and New York triumphed 2–1.

Following his knee injury, Fitzsimmons made only one start in 1942 and served as a coach on player-manager Durocher's staff. He then returned to the active list and made nine appearances for the 1943 Dodgers before Brooklyn released him July 27. The following day, the tail-ending Philadelphia Phillies tabbed him as their manager, replacing Bucky Harris and ending Fitzsimmons' playing career. He compiled a 217–146 (.598) record with an ERA of 3.51 and 870 strikeouts in 513 games and 3,22323 innings pitched.

Fitzsimmons was a better than average hitting pitcher in his career. He compiled a .200 average (231–1155) with 112 runs, 103 RBI and 14 home runs. In 1930, 1931, and 1932 as a member of the New York Giants, he drove in 13, 18, and 10 runs respectively. In four World Series appearances, he batted .375 (3–8).

He managed the Phillies through the middle of the 1945 season, compiling only 105 wins against 181 losses (.367). In 1943 and 1944, he also served as general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers in the All-America Football Conference. After World War II, Fitzsimmons became a coach with the Boston Braves (1948), Giants (19491955), Chicago Cubs (19571959; 1966), and Kansas City Athletics (1960). He also managed in minor league baseball. On Durocher's Giants staff, Fitzsimmons finally earned a championship as a coach for the 1954 World Series team.

Bob Lemon broke the major league mark shared by Fitzsimmons by leading the American League in putouts five times between 1948 and 1954; Greg Maddux eventually broke the NL record.

Fitzsimmons died of a heart attack at age 78 in Yucca Valley, California.[2] He was buried at Montecito Memorial Park, in Colton, California.[3]

Freddie Fitzsimmons
Pitcher / Manager
Born: July 28, 1901
Mishawaka, Indiana
Died: November 18, 1979 (aged 78)
Yucca Valley, California
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
August 12, 1925, for the New York Giants
Last MLB appearance
July 16, 1943, for the Brooklyn Dodgers
MLB statistics
Win–loss record217–146
Earned run average3.51
As player

As manager

As coach

Career highlights and awards

See also


  1. ^ Spink, J. G. Taylor; Rickart, Paul A.; Abramovich, Joe (1958). The Sporting News 1958 Official Baseball Register. St. Louis, Missouri: The Sporting News. p. 273.
  2. ^ "Fitzsimmons Dies Of Heart Attack". Sarasota (FL) Herald-Tribune. Associated Press (AP). December 16, 1979. p. 4-C. Retrieved February 18, 2019.
  3. ^ Freddie Fitzsimmons at the SABR Baseball Biography Project, by Gregory H. Wolf, Retrieved August 6, 2019.

External links

1928 New York Giants (MLB) season

The 1928 New York Giants season was the franchise's 46th season. The team finished in second place in the National League with a 93–61 record, 2 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals.

1929 New York Giants (MLB) season

The 1929 New York Giants season was the franchise's 47th season. The team finished in third place in the National League with an 84-67 record, 13½ games behind the Chicago Cubs. In a home game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on July 5 at the Polo Grounds, the Giants used the first public address system to be used in a major league ballpark.

1930 New York Giants (MLB) season

The 1930 New York Giants season was the 48th in franchise history. The team finished third in the National League with a record of 87–67, 5 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals.

1931 New York Giants (MLB) season

The 1931 New York Giants season was the franchise's 49th season. The team finished in second place in the National League with an 87-65 record, 13 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals.

1932 New York Giants (MLB) season

The 1932 New York Giants season was the franchise's 50th season. The team finished in a tie for sixth place in the National League with a 72-82 record, 18 games behind the Chicago Cubs.

1933 New York Giants (MLB) season

The 1933 New York Giants season was the franchise's 51st season. The team won the National League pennant and beat the Washington Senators of the American League in the World Series.

1934 New York Giants (MLB) season

The 1934 New York Giants season was the franchise's 52nd season. Although they led in the standings for most of the season, the team finished in second place in the National League with a 93-60 record, 2 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals.

1935 New York Giants (MLB) season

The 1935 New York Giants season was the franchise's 53rd season. The team finished in third place in the National League with a 91-62 record, 8½ games behind the Chicago Cubs.

1936 New York Giants (MLB) season

The 1936 New York Giants season was the franchise's 54th season. The Giants won the National League pennant. The team went on to lose to the New York Yankees in the 1936 World Series, four games to two.

1936 World Series

The 1936 World Series matched the New York Yankees against the New York Giants, with the Yankees winning in six games to earn their fifth championship.

The Yankees played their first World Series without Babe Ruth and their first with Joe DiMaggio, Ruth having been released by the Yankees after the 1934 season. He retired in 1935 as a member of the Boston Braves.

1937 Brooklyn Dodgers season

Former Dodgers pitcher Burleigh Grimes was brought in to manage the 1937 Brooklyn Dodgers, but the team continued to struggle, finishing in sixth place.

1942 Brooklyn Dodgers season

The 1942 Brooklyn Dodgers team won 104 games in the season, but fell two games short of the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League pennant race.

1953 New York Giants (MLB) season

The 1953 New York Giants season was the franchise's 71st season. The team finished in fifth place in the National League with a 70-84 record, 35 games behind the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Clyde Smoll

Clyde Hetrick "Lefty" Smoll (April 17, 1914 in Quakertown, Pennsylvania, United States – August 31, 1985 in Quakertown, Pennsylvania) was a Major League Baseball pitcher who played for the Philadelphia Phillies in 1940.

On April 26, 1940, Smoll made his major league debut, starting against the Brooklyn Dodgers, whose starting pitcher was Freddie Fitzsimmons. Smoll allowed four runs, two earned, in six innings of work, saddling him with the loss. Smoll made 33 appearances in 1940, starting nine games and going 2–8 with a 5.37 ERA. In 109 innings, he allowed 145 hits and 36 walks while striking out 31 batters. He played his final big league game on September 12.

Smoll also spent 10 seasons pitching in the minor leagues, going 79–94 in 337 games. He pitched in the minors until 1946. He managed in the minor leagues from 1948 to 1950, skippering the Rome Colonels the first two years and the West Palm Beach Indians in the last.

Homer Peel

Homer Hefner Peel (October 10, 1902 – April 8, 1997) was an American professional baseball player and manager during the first half of the 20th century. His career lasted for a quarter century (1923–42; 1946–50), including 21 years as an outfielder and four years as a non-playing manager. Peel appeared in 186 Major League Baseball games over five seasons (1927; 1929–30; 1933–34) for the St. Louis Cardinals, Philadelphia Phillies and New York Giants. The native of Port Sullivan, Milam County, Texas, threw and batted right-handed, stood 5 feet 9 inches (1.75 m) tall and weighed 170 pounds (77 kg). He served in the United States Navy during World War II.Peel batted only .238 with an even 100 hits and two home runs during his Major League career. But he was a member of the 1933 world champion Giants, appearing in two games of the 1933 World Series. He was a defensive replacement in center field for Kiddo Davis in Game 2, and singled as a pinch hitter for Freddie Fitzsimmons in Game 3 off Earl Whitehill of the Washington Senators.In addition, Peel was one of the top players in minor league baseball during the 1920s and 1930s He hit over .300 for more than a dozen seasons and was known as "the Ty Cobb of the Texas League", where hit batted .325 lifetime. He also managed the Fort Worth Cats, Oklahoma City Indians and Shreveport Sports in the Texas circuit.

Peel died in Shreveport, Louisiana, at age 94.

Knuckle curve

In Major League history, the term knuckle curve or knuckle curveball has been used to describe three entirely different pitches.

The first, more common pitch called the knuckle curve is really a standard curveball, thrown with one or more of the index or mean fingers bent. According to practitioners, this gives them a better grip on the ball and allows for tighter spin and greater movement. In all other respects, this knuckle curve is identical to the standard curveball. This version of the knuckle curve is currently used by Major League pitchers Phil Hughes and Brad Peacock. Mike Mussina was well known for his incorporation of the pitch into his repertoire. Justin Verlander formerly threw a knuckle curve but was forced to abandon the pitch due to problems with blisters. This knuckle curve is usually called the spike curve by MLB players and coaches because the pitch is nothing like a knuckleball.

The second type of knuckle curve is a breaking ball that is thrown with a grip similar to the knuckleball. Unlike a knuckleball, which spins very little, a knuckle curve spins like a normal curveball because the pitcher's index and middle fingers push the top of the ball into a downward curve at the moment of release. Since only two fingers produce the spin, however, a knuckle curve does not spin as fast as a curveball, meaning the break is less sharp, and less predictable. Because this knuckle curve can be thrown with the same general motion as a fastball, it is more deceptive than a normal curveball. This kind of knuckle curve is rare—it is easier to control than a standard knuckleball, but still difficult to master. The most famous practitioners of this type of knuckle curve are Burt 'Happy' Hooton, who pitched for the Chicago Cubs and the Los Angeles Dodgers from the mid-1970s to mid-1980s, and former reliever Jason Isringhausen.

The third type of knuckle curve was thrown by Dave Stenhouse in the 1960s. Stenhouse's knuckle curve was thrown like a fastball but with a knuckleball grip. Stenhouse discovered that this pitch had excellent movement, and when he came to the majors, he utilized it as a breaking pitch. This pitch may have been the same as the knuckleball thrown by Jesse Haines and Freddie Fitzsimmons. The pitch would be perfected by Chicago White Sox legend Hoyt Wilhelm during the later stages of his career, after flirting with it for most of his time in the majors.

List of Los Angeles Dodgers coaches

The following is a list of coaches, including position, year(s) of service(s), who appeared at least in one game for the Los Angeles Dodgers National League franchise also known previously as the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Steve Swetonic

Stephen Albert Swetonic (August 13, 1903 – April 22, 1974) was a pitcher in Major League Baseball, who played his entire career for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1929 through 1935. Swetonic batted and threw right-handed. He was born in Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania.

Swetonic provided a solid support in Pirates' pitching staffs of the early 1930s that included Larry French, Burleigh Grimes, Waite Hoyt, and Ray Kremer. His most productive season came in 1932, when he went 11–6 with a career-high 2.82 ERA and tied for the National League lead with four shutouts. In 1933 he recorded career-numbers in wins (12), starts (21), and innings pitched (164 ⅔ ). His career ended prematurely at the age of 28 because of a chronic sore arm.

Swetonic went to spring training with the Boston Braves in 1934 but did not play in the regular season. In a March 24 game against the Philadelphia Athletics, in St. Petersburg, Florida, he yielded four runs in the first inning.

In March 1935, Swetonic was in spring training with the New York Giants team in Miami Beach, Florida. He tossed the final three innings of an intrasquad game between teams captained by Carl Hubbell and Freddie Fitzsimmons on February 28.In a five-season career, Swetonic posted a 37–36 record with 154 strikeouts and a 3.81 ERA in 595 ⅓ innings. He died in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, at age 70.


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