Joseph Louis Benz
Born: January 21, 1886 - New Alsace, IN
Died: April 22, 1957 - Chicago, IL
MLB Pitching Record: 77–75
Chicago White Sox AL (January 21, 1886 - April 22, 1957)
Known as the “Butcher Boy” because he worked in his father’s meat market during the offseason, Joe Benz was a master of the spitball. From all accounts, Benz was one of the real good guys of the game. He spent his entire career with the White Sox and was considered a very reliable middle rotation guy who could eat up innings. Working his way up from the bushes, Benz made his debut with the White Sox in the latter part of the 1911 season. Going into the 1912 season, Benz became the workhorse of the Sox, devouring 238 innings and winning 13 games. The highlight of his career came in May of 1914 when he pitched a no-hitter against the Cleveland Naps. It was only the second no-hitter in White Sox history.
Benz was meticulous about staying in shape during the offseason, and could be counted on to show up at spring training camp in mid-season condition. Despite his focus on good health, he contracted typhoid fever, which affected his play early in the 1915 season, and in 1918 a bout of pneumonia shortened his playing time. Those serious illnesses, coupled with a hand injury and recurring arm problems over his tenure, hampered his ability to remain consistent. From 1916 through his one appearance in 1919, Benz’ numbers tailed off dramatically. He was finally released by the White Sox after that one appearance, but remained a fixture in the Chicago area.
As a career White Sox pitcher, Benz became a well-liked celebrity of sorts, attending many charity events, sports banquets, and often playing in the old-timers’ ball games. He worked as an engineer and a surveyor before operating a tavern in Chicago for many years. A genuinely nice guy, Joe Benz was always accommodating to fans and friends. He passed away as a result of a stroke in 1957 when he was 71 years old.
– 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