William “Willie” Mitchell
Born: December 1, 1889 - Pleasant Grove, MS
Died: November 23, 1973 - Sardis, MS
MLB Pitching Record: 83–92
Cleveland Naps/Indians AL (December 1, 1889 - November 23, 1973)
Detroit Tigers AL (1916–1919)
The first player from Mississippi State University to make it to the majors, Willie Mitchell was also the first American League pitcher to strike out Babe Ruth. Mitchell won 13 games for the San Antonio Bronchos of the Texas League in 1909 before he was called up to finish the season with the Cleveland Naps. The 19-year-old rookie won just one of the three games he appeared in, but sported a nifty 1.57 earned-run average.
The following year, Mitchell went 12–8 and was a big part of the Naps rotation. However, in 1911 he struggled, winning only 7 games and losing 14, and he was relegated to the bullpen for the 1912 season. Mitchell had his best year in 1913 posting a 14-win season to go along with his 1.91 ERA. For the next several years he hovered around the .500 mark and was finally traded to the Detroit Tigers in 1916. Mitchell had one more good MLB year, going 12–8 in 1917. The next two seasons were rather unproductive and his Major League career came to an end in 1919.
Like many others, Mitchell went back to the minors. While playing for the Vernon Tigers of the Pacific Coast League in 1920, he had a sparkling 25–13 record. Mitchell bounced around the circuit for a few more years and called it a wrap after playing for the Topeka Senators in the Western Association for the 1924 season. Willie Mitchell was inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in 1966 and the Mississippi State Sports Hall of Fame in 1970. He passed away 1973 at age 83.
– 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