Here are the four starters from the 1929 Philadelphia Athletics we are likely to see in the upcoming Philly Dream Series.
#1. LEFTY GROVE. The first two sentences of Lefty Grove’s SABR bio say it all: “Lefty Grove may have been baseball’s greatest all-time pitcher. He was certainly it’s most dominant.” It wasn’t always that way. When he joined the A’s in 1925, he was so wild that Mickey Cochrane once said, “Catching him was like catching bullets from a rifleman with bad aim.” But he worked on his control that off-season, and starting in 1926, he’s been essentially unhittable. His fastball is the best in baseball. As Cub star Gabby Hartnett once said, “How can you hit the guy when you can’t see him?” He’s also got a decent curve, though he doesn’t have to employ it all that often. He’s an ornery character, but Connie Mack is willing to put up with him as long as he puts up numbers like he did this year, going 20-6 with a league-leading 2.81 ERA.
#2. RUBE WALBERG. Just like Lefty, Rube was raised in the coal mines. Also like Lefty, he’s an excellent fastball pitcher, though he doesn’t throw it quite as hard as Grove (then again, who does?). He also has a terrific curveball, a solid changeup, and there are rumors that he occasionally lets fly with a spitball, despite it’s illegality. The 32-year old lefty went 18-11 with a 3.60 ERA this past season.
#3. GEORGE EARNSHAW. You know you’ve got a good team when your #3 pitcher goes 24-8 with a 3.29 ERA. The strapping 6’4″ Swarthmore graduate played for several years with the minor league Baltimore Orioles, whose owner refused to sell him until Connie Mack offered $80,000 for his services. He joined the A’s last year as a 28-year old rookie. He’s a wild pitcher, and led the league in walks this past year. That could come into play in this Series. He has a strong fastball, a decent curve, and a circle change, which Mickey Cochrane calls “a kind of half screwball that is quite slow.” He has the 2nd most strikeouts in the league, trailing only Grove.
#4. HOWARD EHMKE. Ehmke would probably be lost to the annals of time if not for one game…Game 1 of the 1929 World Series. Having barely pitched at all the previous several months, the 35-year was told by Connie Mack he’d be pitching Game 1 of the Series against the Cubs. Chicago had no scouting report on Ehmke, and he proceeded to fan 13 Cubs in the game, a World Series record. He’s a sidearming junkballer with no speed. His pitching style is somewhat reminiscent of Jamie Moyer, as he likes to mix speeds and pitches. We’re not sure if Mack will use him in this Series or not.