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Earl Wilson

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Earl Wilson
Pitcher
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB Debut
July 28, 1959 for the Boston Red Sox
Final game
September 22, 1970 for the San Diego Padres
Career Statistics
Pitching record     121-109
Earned run average     3.69
Strikeouts     1452
Teams
Career Highlights and Awards

Robert Earl Wilson (name changed from Earl Lawrence Wilson) (October 2, 1934April 23, 2005) was a starting pitcher in Major League Baseball who played for the Boston Red Sox (1959-60, 1962-66), Detroit Tigers (1966-1970) and San Diego Padres (1970). Wilson batted and threw right handed. He was born in Ponchatoula, Louisiana.

In an 11-season career, Wilson posted a 121-109 record with 1452 strikeouts and a 3.69 ERA in 2051.2 innings pitched.

A 6-foot-3, 215-pound, who relied on sliders and fastballs, Wilson made his major league debut with the Red Sox on July 31, 1959, as their first black pitcher. Previously, infielder Pumpsie Green was the first black player on the Red Sox, joining them earlier that season, when Boston was the last of the 16 major league clubs to break the color barrier.

On June 26, 1962, at Fenway Park, Wilson no-hit the Los Angeles Angels 2-0, a game in which he hit a home run. (Wes Ferrell in 1931 and Rick Wise in 1971 are the only two other no-hit pitchers to homer in the same game; the latter homered twice in pitching his no-hitter.) He also became the first black major league pitcher to pitch an American League no-hitter.

In five-plus seasons, Wilson won 45 games for Boston with a high 13 victories in 1963. He was traded to the Detroit Tigers in the 1966 midseason, and finished with a combined 18-11 record, a career-high in strikeouts with 200, and a 3.07 ERA. His most productive season came in 1967, when he won a career-high 22 games, tying Jim Lonborg for the American League lead.

In the 1968 World Series, when the Tigers defeated the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games, Wilson was part of a starting rotation that included 31-games winner Denny McLain and Mickey Lolich, who won three games in the Series.

Originally a catcher, Wilson switched to pitching in 1953, only to became one of baseball's greatest power-hitting pitchers in major league history. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Wilson hit 35 home runs in his career: 33 while in a game as a pitcher, two as a pinch-hitter, two in one game (1965), and seven in a season twice, in just 740 at-bats. Only Wes Ferrell (37 HRs), Bob Lemon and Warren Spahn (35 each) and Red Ruffing (34) hit more home runs as pitchers, according to ESB.

Wilson was sent to the San Diego Padres in 1970, and he finished his career at the end of the season. After retiring, he founded an automotive parts company.

Wilson died from a heart attack at his home in Southfield, Michigan, on April 23, 2005.

Racism in baseballEdit

  • Howard Bryant's book 'Shut Out' deals with Wilson's time at Boston. During spring training in 1966 he had entered a bar in Florida with two white colleagues, Dennis Bennett and Dave Morehead, and was told "we don't serve niggers here". Wilson left the bar and sought comfort from the Red Sox management, but was told to forget about it as if it never happened and on no account to speak to the press. This was too much for the proud Wilson who revealed what had happened to the media. He was traded to the Detroit Tigers for outfielder Don Demeter and pitcher Julio Navarro. Wilson would hit more home runs for Detroit as a pitcher than Demeter, whilst Navarro never pitched a game for Boston.

FactEdit

  • In the mid-1960s, Wilson became the first sports figure to be represented by Bob Woolf, a Boston lawyer who was a pioneering agent for athletes and represented entertainers through Bob Woolf Associates.

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Preceded by:
Jim Kaat
American League Wins Champion
1967
(with Jim Lonborg)
Succeeded by:
Denny McLain

Template:1968 Detroit Tigers

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