Wednesday, January 27, 2010

21 Days Until Spring Training: Spud Chandler

(Relax, Joe is going to do one on good ol' Paulie O'Neill later)

I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that if you're reading this blog, you probably weren't alive to see Spud Chandler pitch. His last appearance was on October 2nd, 1947, so you would have to be at least 69 to stake a reasonable claim to remembering him as a Yankee, even during his last season. Neither of my parents were alive at that point, but praise be to the bounty of these here interwebs, I can hop on Baseball-Reference and Wikipedia and write him a mini-biography like I'm his agent or something.

Chandler grew up in Jaw-juh, and was a three sport athlete at UGA, playing halfback for the football team, pitching for the baseball team and running track.

If I told you Mr. Chandler had a ten year career, you'd probably guess he started when he around 23-26 and retired at about 33-36. Oddly, he was born in 1907, but didn't make his debut until 1937, in his age 29 season after spending five years in the Yankee farm system. Lots of guys make their major league debuts at 29, not many of them have 10 year careers. He started only 12 games in '37, but threw six CGs, including two shutouts.

The following season, he threw 172 innings to a better than a league average ERA, but had a microscopic 36 strikeouts. At age 31, he was relegated to only 11 relief appearances and looked as if he was headed out of the league. In 1940, he was re-installed into the rotation and for the next three seasons complied successively more innings, more strikeouts and a lower ERA, setting the table for his 1943 season.

Granted WWII inflated the stats of the bona fide Major Leaguers that were still around, but Spud Chandler's 1943 season was still pretty damn incredible. The marginal pitcher I just described to you, at age 35, busted out with 253 innings of a 1.64ERA and a .992 WHIP, gave up only two home runs all season and went 20-4. He received 246 out of a possible 336 points in the MVP vote and pulled off the rare feat of winning the award as a pitcher. He pitched two complete games in that World Series, including a CG shutout in the clinching Game 5.

In 1944, after starting only one game, Spurgeon F. Chandler was enlisted in the Army. He returned towards the end of the 1945 season but appeared in only 4 games.

At age 38, Spud had another truly great year. He set a career high in IP (257.3), strikeouts (138), and shutouts (6) and had a 2.10 ERA with a 1.12WHIP. Spud made the All-Star team and even got a few points in the MVP voting again. Starting only 16 games in his final season (1947), he still pitched to an ERA a full run lower than league average (2.46).

Chandler was a part of three World Series winning Yankee teams (1941, 1943, 1947) and was named to four All-Star teams. He had one of the odder career trajectories and had one of the finer seasons ever as a Yankees pitcher. Yankee history is somewhat lacking in the pitching department but Spud is one of the more interesting characters of the bunch, even if he wasn't one of the greatest.


  1. I remember Spud. 1947. Didn't do anything in the World Series. I assume he was injured, because he had a very nice ERA that season. I was at game 1 and 6, saw the Joe D drive to left center caught by Al Gionfriddo (sp?) in game 6, after which Joe D kicked up dust in disgust in the infield near second base.

  2. I stand corrected. Thanks for stopping by, Anon.

  3. That's awesome that you were there for that Game 6. That's one of the more prominent moments in Joe D's career.

    I believe Chandler was injured; if I recall correctly, I read that the Yankees had all manner of pitching problems in that series.

    And since I've been talking about CT sports this morning, Game 7 (as well as Games 1 and 5) was started by Naugatuck, CT native Frank "Spec" Shea. The story goes that the Yankees didn't have anyone healthy enough to take the ball, so Shea, a rookie, took it on just a single day's rest.

    Shea didn't last long, getting yanked during a second inning, one out jam. But he had pitched quite well in getting the wins in Games 1 and 5.

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