Sunday, April 1, 2018

Delawareans: Some Recent Acquisitions

I've mentioned several times that I'm originally from Delaware.  It's a small state with a small population, so there aren't a lot of famous people or pro athletes from there.  When I was growing up, I knew that Judy Johnson was Delaware's only Hall-of-Famer.  That was before the internet, so if you hear something like that, it's hard to check.  Recently I tried to verify this and read somewhere that there were actually three Hall-of-Famers from Delaware; so, was I wrong to always think that Judy Johnson was the only one?  Who were these other two?  It turns out that Johnson was the only Delawarean in the Hall when I learned that fact in the 80s; the other two, Vic Willis and Bill McGowan, made the Hall in the 90s.
Vic Willis.
Pitcher Vic Willis was an early player, debuting with the Boston Beaneaters (the franchise that would become the Braves) in 1898.  He stayed with the Beaneaters through 1905, then moved to the Pirates, and in 1910 played with the Cardinals.  Willis led the National League with a 2.50 ERA in 1899, and pitched a no-hitter that year as well.  The Beaneaters were terrible after the Red Sox came into existence, and Willis went 12-29 in 1905 with only a 3.21 ERA, as he got terribly poor run support from the Beaneaters offense.  Moving to Pittsburgh in 1906, he posted a 1.73 ERA and a 23-13 record.  He continued to pitch well, including a 22-11 record with a 2.24 ERA in 1909 as the Pirates won their first World Series.  He died in 1947; the Veterans Committee put him in the Hall in 1995.

Needless to say, there aren't many cards of him.  When I went to COMC to look, I found that there are some old tobacco cards.  I don't collect tobacco cards, though, and am not really interested in starting.  There are also reprints of tobacco cards.  Not terribly compelling, in my view.  More up my alley is this standard-sized card, a 2012 Panini Cooperstown Bronze History card, of his Hall of Fame plaque, numbered 341/599.  This is still an outlier in my collection, since I barely have any cards post-1994.  With this (and another card at the bottom of this post), I now have exactly 20 cards manufactured after 1994 out of approximately 30,000 cards in my collection.
Bill McGowan.
Umpire Bill McGowan made the Hall via the Veterans Committee in 1992.  He worked American League games starting in 1925, continuing for 30 seasons, and umpired 8 World Series and 4 All-Star Games.  McGowan's Hall of Fame plaque says that he "introduced colorful style with vigorous, agressive gestures," and that he didn't miss working an inning for a 16-year stretch.  McGowan also founded an umpire school.

When I looked for a card of him, I found two options: the Conlon Collection, and the Panini Cooperstown Bronze History plaque card.  I figured since I was getting the Panini card for Willis, I should get something different for McGowan, and of course it's good to have a card with a photo of the guy, too.  There are a couple of different Conlon cards of him; this one, from 1993, explains that his nickname came from using an undersized chest protector.
Chad Kuhl.
Other than Hall-of-Famers, there are, of course, other players from Delaware.  Next Sunday I'll feature some cards of other Delawareans that have been in my collection for many years: Dave May, Chris Short, and others.  But this post is for these recent acquisitions, and other than Willis and McGowan, I picked up this card of Chad Kuhl recently.  Kuhl intersects my various interests, since he is a Pirate in addition to being a Delawarean.  In two seasons with the Pirates so far, Kuhl has put together a 13-15 record with a 4.30 ERA.  The Bucs have a shaky rotation, and there's some hope that the young pitchers, Kuhl included, will demonstrate some growth this season.  Kuhl's first start of 2018 is scheduled for later today, the night game of the double-header.  Here's hoping for a solid year!

1 comment:

  1. As a postscript, I'll note that Bill McGowan is buried in Cathedral Cemetery in Wilmington, the same cemetery as my dad's parents. Willis is buried in Saint John's Cemetery in Newark, and Johnson is buried in Silverbrook Cemetery in Wilmington.