Hal McCoy looks back in time to Cincinnati Reds sidearm pitcher Ewell Blackwell.
By HAL MCCOYFS Ohio
Ewell Blackwell’s work record for the eight years he was employed as a pitcher by the Cincinnati Reds was not the stuff to catch the eyes of historians.
He was only two games over .500, 79 up and 77 down. But his ERA was 3.32, and opposing batters who had to face his sidearm delivery, which earned him the nickname, “The Whip,” knew that the 6-foot-6, 195-pound Californian was no leisurely day next to the swimming pool.
During his time with the Reds, they never finished above .500. But Blackwell proved his abilities in his All-Star game appearances. Managers named him to six straight All-Star games from 1946-51, and he didn’t disappoint.
It all began in 1946, the first game after World War II, and it turned into a personal celebration for Ted Williams in his home Fenway Park. Williams went 4 for 4 and drove in five runs, including a home run off an ephus/bloop pitch by Rip Sewell.
The American won 12-0, and Blackwell gave up two runs and three hits during his 2-2/3 innings. Those were the last runs he ever gave up in an All-Star Game.
In 1947, Blackwell went 22-8 — the only time he won more than 17 games during his career — and he was named to start the All-Star Game at Wrigley Field.
Blackwell and American League starter Hal Newhouse matched zeroes for three innings, each giving up no runs and one hit. Blackwell walked none and struck out four. But the American League eventually won the game 2-1 on a pinch-hit single by Stan Spence off Johnny Sain in the seventh inning.
In 1948, the American League made it three in a row. The AL won 5-2 at Sportsman’s Park in St. Louis, even though Stan Musial was the hometown hero for the National League, with two hits and two RBI.
No damage was done by Blackwell, though. He pitched the last three innings and gave up no runs and two hits.
The 1949 All-Star Game was extremely special — it was played at Brooklyn’s Ebbets Field, and for the first time African-Americans participated. There were three Dodgers (Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella, Don Newcombe), and the American League had Cleveland’s Larry Doby.
The Americans won again, 11-7, but they didn’t do it against Blackwell, who pitched a perfect eighth inning and struck out two. Because of a sore heel, Joe DiMaggio hadn’t played a game before June 28, only a couple of weeks before the All-Star Game, but AL manager Lou Boudreau added him to the roster and DiMaggio contributed two hits and three RBI.
The National League broke through with a 4-3 victory in 1950 in Chicago’s Comiskey Park, but it took 14 innings — and the winning pitcher was Blackwell. He pitched the final three innings and faced only nine hitters, giving up one hit while striking out two. Blackwell got DiMaggio to ground into a game-ending double play after Ferris Fain reached on a single to left field in the 14th inning.
Red Schoendienst, who didn’t enter the game until the 11th inning as a replacement for Jackie Robinson at second base, hit a home run over the left-field wall in the 14th to give the NL the deciding run.
The NL made it two in a row in 1951 at Briggs Stadium in Detroit, an easy 8-3 victory. It received home runs from Stan Musial, Bob Eliott, Gil Hodges and Ralph Kiner.
Blackwell? He cleaned it all up in the ninth inning, giving up no runs, one hit and one walk while striking out one.
Blackwell was 3-12 with a 5.30 ERA in 1952 when the Reds traded him to the New York Yankees. He appeared in only 13 games the next year-and-a-half and then appeared in two games for the Kansas City A's in 1955 and retired.