Leslie Ambrose “Joe” Bush
Born: November 27, 1892 - Ehime, MN
Died: November 1, 1974 - Fort Lauderdale, FL
MLB Pitching Record: 196–184
Philadelphia Athletics AL (1912–1917, 1928)
Boston Red Sox AL (1918–1921)
New York Yankees AL (1922–1924)
St. Louis Browns AL (1925)
Washington Senators AL (1926)
Pittsburgh Pirates NL (1926–1927)
New York Giants NL (1927)
“Bullet” Joe Bush, so nicknamed because of the speed of his fastball, was a hero in Philadelphia after leading the Athletics to an unlikely win over the New York Giants in the 1913 World Series. Bush was 1–0 in that Series with a microscopic ERA of 1.00. His performance catapulted the A’s to a 4–1 drubbing of New York.
Bush was a pitcher of extremes. His heroics helped win in 1913, but the very next year, his throwing error was the death knell as the A’s lost the 1914 Series to the Braves. Similarly, Bush lost 24 games for the 1916 A’s, and then won 26 for the Yankees in 1922. That season was a true sparkler for Bush. He finished fourth in MVP voting with an ERA of 3.31 and 20 complete games. In a 17-year career for seven different teams, Bush was 196–184. He won 15 or more games nine times, but control was always an issue. Bush walked more batters than he struck out eight times. He also led his league in wild pitches in 1916, 1923, and 1924.
Bush was known for releasing loud grunts as he unleashed a violent fastball. Word is that his twisting delivery was so effective that teammate Babe Ruth wanted other Yankees pitchers to adopt it. After leaving Philly in 1921, Bush pitched admirably for some bad Red Sox teams before joining the powerful Yanks in 1922 where he played in two World Series, winning one in 1923. Bush never repeated his 1913 Series heroics, going 1–5 in four subsequent Fall Classics. In 1922, he stopped George Sisler’s then-record 41-game hitting streak, a mark that would remain untouched until Joe DiMaggio’s 56 games in 1941.
A gifted ventriloquist, Bush once faked animal sounds while in a restaurant, scaring the clientele. When a constable arrived, Bush feigned the sound of a barking dog. As the officer looked away, Bush hightailed it out of there. Clearly, Bullet Joe was one heck of a ventriloquist, but on the mound, he was no dummy.
– 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