William Lawrence “Bill” James
Born: March 12, 1892 - Iowa Hill, CA
Died: March 10, 1971 - Oroville, CA
MLB Pitching Record: 37–21
Boston Braves NL (1913–1915, 1919)
“Seattle Bill” James burst into the baseball galaxy like a shooting star, but faded away just as quickly. Pitching for the Seattle Indians of the Northwestern League in 1912, the young phenom posted a 29–7 record while acquiring his nickname. He was quickly signed by the Boston Braves, and in his first season with the woeful Braves, James was 6–10 with a 2.79 earned-run average; not all that bad for a rookie.
In 1914, James rose to the top of the baseball world to become a dominant pitcher. That year the Braves shocked everyone when they charged from last place to win the National League pennant and then swept the World Series. For a stretch of almost three months, James rattled off 19 wins and led the league in a variety of categories. In Game 2 of the World Series, James faced the legendary “Gettysburg Eddie” Plank and pitched a masterful two-hitter. James won a second game in the Series when he appeared in relief in extra innings. He racked up a sparkling 26–7 record along with a solid 1.90 earned-run average that season and was labeled as the next great pitching star to come down the line.
Unfortunately, Bill developed shoulder problems over the course of the winter and when he reported to spring training, he could not get the ball over the plate. He appeared in 13 games in 1915, pitching only 68 total innings, and was forced to retire from Major League baseball because of the shoulder ailment. From 1919 through 1925, James moved around the minors playing in the Texas League, Pacific Coast League, and the Southern Association. Sadly, “Seattle Bill” James never regained the form that made him the talk of baseball for one season. He coached a bit, settled into married life and lived out his days quietly, but he would never forget that one shining season.
– 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