James “Jim” Scott
Born: April 23, 1888 - Deadwood, SD
Died: April 7, 1957 - Jacumba, CA
MLB Pitching Record: 107–114
Chicago White Sox AL (1909–1917)
“Death Valley Jim” Scott was one of the fastest guns in the west, or in his case, the Midwest. The 6-foot, 1-inch, 235 pound hurler played nine seasons with the Chicago White Sox and was known for mixing junk with a hard fastball and for a blistering pickoff move to first base. According to legend, Scott got his nickname from an erroneous reference to his native Deadwood, South Dakota, or from the fact that he shared a train ride with a notorious criminal named Death Valley Scott.
After leaving Wesleyan University medical school to pursue a baseball career, Scott went 12–12 in 1909, his rookie year with the White Sox. In 1910, he lost 18 games but led the American League in games finished with 17. Three years later, he won 20 games, but lost 21 with a miniscule ERA of 1.90. He actually finished 14th in MVP voting that season. Scott had a no-hitter through nine innings in 1914, but lost his shot at history, and the game, in the tenth. His best year was 1915 when he went 24–11 with a 2.03 ERA and a league-leading seven shutouts.
Scott was a spitballer, but he used a full arsenal to register 945 career Ks. In 1917, he ended Ty Cobb’s 35-game hitting streak, and the White Sox won the World Series, but Scott left the club mid-season to serve in World War I. After his return, Scott pitched in the Pacific Coast League and Southern Association until 1927, putting together a 155–108 Minor League record. He then worked as an umpire until 1932. In retirement, Scott worked in the film industry, and reportedly joined a religious cult. He passed away in 1957, but as he faded off into the sunset, no one would soon forget the legend of “Death Valley Jim.”
– 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