Claude Raymond Hendrix
Born: April 13, 1889 - Olathe, KS
Died: March 22, 1944 - Allentown, PA
MLB Pitching Record: 144–116
Pittsburgh Pirates NL (April 13, 1889 - March 22, 1944)
Chicago Chi-Feds/Whales FL (1914–1915)
Chicago Cubs NL (1916–1920)
Had his career not been tainted by allegations of gambling and throwing a game, Claude Hendrix would go down in history as one of the better pitchers of the Deadball Era. A superb hitting pitcher who was a master of the spitball, Hendrix attended Wichita State University where he excelled as an athlete. He quickly made the jump to pitch in the Western League and continued on in the minors for a few years.
Hendrix finally caught the eye of the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1911 where he was befriended by Honus Wagner. In 1912 the 23-year-old Hendrix exploded as a star pitcher, compiling a 24–9 record and leading the National League with his .727 winning percentage. He also hit a blistering .322 in 121 at-bats that year. The success continued in 1913 when Hendrix placed among league leaders in strikeouts, even though he was one game under .500 as a pitcher. After jumping to the Chicago Chi-Feds in new Federal League in 1914, Hendrix led the league with 29 wins and a great 1.69 earned-run average. Once the Federal League folded, he went crosstown to join the National League Cubs and in 1918 his 20 wins helped lead them to the NL Pennant. Curiously enough, because his manager elected to go with a rotation of lefthanders, he did not appear in the Series as a pitcher.
In 1920, the career of Claude Hendrix took a negative turn when he was implicated in throwing a game between the Cubs and Phillies. The owner of the Cubs, Bill Veeck, received word that Hendrix bet against the Cubs in a game in which he was scheduled to pitch. He was immediately scratched from the lineup and was later released from the club. This episode opened the door for an investigation into gambling in baseball, which led to the eventual unraveling of the 1919 Black Sox debacle. Hendrix continued playing ball with various semi-pro teams and then went into the restaurant business. He died at age 55 in 1944, never exonerated from the gambling accusations that dogged him.
– 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