Edward Stewart “Eddie” Plank
Born: August 31, 1875 - Gettysburg, PA
Died: February 24, 1926 - Gettysburg, PA
MLB Pitching Record: 326–194
Philadelphia Athletics AL (1901–1914)
St. Louis Terriers FL (1915)
St. Louis Browns AL (1916–1917)
Considered one of the greatest pitchers of all time, “Gettysburg Eddie” Plank was a crafty lefty with stuff that was not overpowering. A sidearm pitcher with a big sweeping curveball and excellent control, Eddie was a master of stall tactics. He was extremely slow and deliberate on the mound, frustrating hitters, fans, and even his own outfielders.
The first lefthander to win 300 games, Plank amassed 2,246 strikeouts over his illustrious career, and had some phenomenal seasons, winning 20 games on eight occasions. His career 326 wins ranks 13th in MLB history.
Arguably, his best year was in 1912 for the A’s when he went 26–6 with a 2.22 ERA. He played on two World Series Champion A’s teams (1911, 1913) and on three pennant winners in 1902, 1905 and 1914. Plank pitched a 13-inning shutout against Boston pitcher Cy Young in 1904. In April of 1909, as starting pitcher for the Shibe Park dedication game, Plank beat Boston 8–1, but the game ended tragically. Catcher Doc Powers collided with the new park’s cement wall while chasing a foul popup and died soon after. However, the most notable game of Plank’s career was Game 5 of the 1913 World Series. Matched against the great Christy Mathewson, “Gettysburg Eddie” threw a 2-hitter to defeat the Giants 3–1, clinching a World Series win for the A’s.
Plank is the all-time leader in complete games for lefties and his 69 shutouts remain a southpaw record. He had a 20-win season for the St. Louis Terriers in the Federal League in 1915 before returning to the American League to finish out his career with the Browns. Plank announced his retirement in 1917, but was still in demand at age 42. The Yankees tried to work a trade for him but “Gettysburg Eddie” had no desire to go to New York. Instead, Plank retired to his Gettysburg farm, operated a Buick dealership, and was known to give tours of the battlefield at Gettysburg. In 1926 he suffered a stroke and died soon after at the age of 50. Elected to the Hall of Fame in 1946, Eddie Plank certainly deserves a place in our starting rotation.
– Tom and Ellen Zappala, The Cracker Jack Collection: Baseball's Prized Players. For more information on their book and/or to order a copy at a special PSA discount, visit http://crackerjackplayers.com/PSA_order.html