Smoky Joe Wood
Born: October 25, 1889 - Kansas City, MO
Died: July 27, 1985 - West Haven, CT
MLB Pitching Record: 117–57
Boston Red Sox AL (October 25, 1889 - July 27, 1985)
Cleveland Indians AL (1917–1922)
Had it not been for an injury-shortened career, fireballer Smokey Joe Wood would be a lock for the Hall of Fame. The hard-throwing righty had an unbelievable 34–5 record in 1912 with a sparkling 1.91 ERA and led the Red Sox to the World Series Championship. Wood starred in the Series, posting a 3–1 record. He is credited with the win in Game 8, when Giants outfielder Fred Snodgrass dropped the fly ball that ultimately lost the Series for New York. The “Snodgrass Muff” will forever be remembered as one of the biggest blunders in baseball.
The 1912 season also saw Wood participating in one of the most legendary pitching matchups of all time. On September 6, 1912, Smokey Joe Wood faced off with Washington Senators ace and future Hall of Famer, Walter Johnson, at Fenway Park. Wood pitched a masterful two-hitter and the Red Sox won 1–0. Legend has it that Walter Johnson once commented there was no man alive who threw harder than Smokey Joe Wood. Tragically, Wood injured his thumb and arm in 1913, and although he had winning records over the next three seasons, he was never the same pitcher. Wood’s 15–5 season in 1915 with a league-leading 1.49 ERA helped lead Boston to another pennant. The Red Sox took the Series but Wood was not a factor in the postseason.
After sitting out the 1916 season due to salary disputes, Wood was sold to Cleveland where he promptly injured his arm again, causing him to miss most of the 1917 season. He converted to the outfield in 1918, stretching out his career for a few more seasons. Wood played in the World Series in 1920, helping the Indians best the Brooklyn Robins to win the Championship. After batting .297 and banging out 150 hits in 1922, the 32-year-old Wood abruptly announced his retirement. He coached at Yale University from 1924 to 1942 and lived to the ripe old age of 95, becoming the last surviving Major League player from the Deadball Era.
– 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