Hart, Jim Ray

Primary Position: Third base
Birthplace: Hookerton
First, Middle Names:  James Ray

Date of Birth:  Oct. 30, 1941   Date and Place of Death: May 19, 2016, Acampo, CA
Burial: Cremated

High School: Snow Hill Colored High School, Snow Hill, NC
College: Did not attend

Bats: R Throws: R        Height and Weight: 5-11, 185
Debut Year: 1963        Final Year: 1974          Years Played: 12
Team and Years: San Francisco Giants, 1963-73; New York Yankees, 1973-74

Awards/Honors: All Star, 1966; Boys of Summer Top 100

Career Summary
G            AB         H           R            RBI       HR       BA.      OBP.    SLG.     WAR
1125    3783    1052    518      578      170     .278     .345     .467     +24.9

Jim Ray Hart was celebrating his successful major-league debut in the Giants’ clubhouse at Candlestick Park in San Francisco on that Sunday afternoon in July 1963. The 21-year-old sharecropper’s son from the cotton fields of North Carolina was a rising star. He had hit with power and consistency during his brief tenure in the minors, winning two batting titles and impressing old pros who compared him to the likes of Henry Aaron and Ted Williams. His performance that day in the first game of a double header suggested there might be something to such talk, that this kid with a booming bat might make it in the majors. Hart had two hits, knocked in a run, and scored one in a 15-inning thriller against the St. Louis Cardinals that his team won 4-3. The affable farm boy was all smiles afterwards, clutching the game ball his manager had given him and high-fiving teammates. One noted somberly, though, that he’d face Bob Gibson in the nightcap.

“Who’s Bob Gibson?” the rookie asked.[I]

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Shore, Ernie

Primary Position: Starting pitcher
Birthplace: East Bend

First, Middle Names:  Ernest Grady
Date of Birth:  March 24, 1891           Date and Place of Death: Sept. 24, 1980, Winston-Salem, NC
Burial: Forsyth Memorial Park Cemetery, Winston-Salem, NC

High School: East Bend Graded School
College: Guilford College, Guilford College, NC

Bats: R Throws: R        Height and Weight: 6-4, 220
Debut Year: 1912        Final Year: 1920          Years Played: 7
Teams and Years: New York Giants, 1912; Boston Red Sox, 1914-17; New York Yankees, 1919-20

Awards/Honors: N.C. Sports Hall of Fame, 1979; Boys of Summer Top 100

Career Summary
G          W        L          Sv        ERA     IP             SO       WAR
160    65      43        5          2.47     979.1     309      +9.3

Ernie Shore settled down at the end of the Boston bench at Fenway Park for what he expected to be a long afternoon of idleness. His Red Sox were playing the Washington Senators in a doubleheader on that Saturday, June 23, 1917, and Shore wasn’t to start either game.

Babe Ruth got the ball for the opener. He was not yet the feared slugger who would change the face of baseball, but the 22-year-old was fast becoming the best lefthanded pitcher in the American League. He was on his way to winning 24 games, one more than the previous season. With that raw talent, though, came an uneven temperament, which gradually evened out as Ruth got older.

His first pitch to leadoff batter Ray Morgan was called a ball by home plate umpire Brick Owens, himself a man not known for his forbearance. He had started umpiring as a child on the sandlots of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and had become a professional at age 17. He bore the scars of his various altercations with fans and players, including the one on his head from the thrown brick that inspired his nickname.[1] A man brained by a brick wasn’t intimidated by a kid pitcher, no matter how talented. Ruth complained about the call and stomped around the mound and only got angrier after Owens ruled that his second and third offerings were balls as well. He threatened to punch Owens in the nose; the ump told the kid to shut up and keep pitching. After the fourth ball, Ruth rushed towards home plate but was intercepted by his catcher Pinch Thomas. He flailed at Owens as Thomas held him back and later claimed in his autobiography that he struck the umpire on the side of the head. Shore didn’t remember years later that any punches were thrown. No matter. Owens tossed Ruth out of the game. The enraged Babe had to be escorted off the field by several teammates and a police officer.

Manager Jack Berry summoned Shore to the mound. “Try to get out of the inning,” he instructed.[I]

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Wicker, Kemp

Primary Position: Relief pitcher
Birthplace: Kernersville

First, Middle Names: Kemp Caswell
Date of Birth:  Aug. 13, 1906  Date and Place of Death: July 11, 1973, Kernersville
Burial: United Methodist Church Cemetery, Kernersville

High School: Undetermined
Colleges: Weaver College, Weaverville, NC; N.C. State University, Raleigh, NC

Bats: R             Throws: L        Height and Weight: 5-11, 182
Debut Year: 1936       Final Year: 1941          Years Played: 4
Teams and Years: New York Yankees, 1936-38; Brooklyn Dodgers, 1941

Career Summary
G         W        L          Sv        ERA     IP         SO       WAR
40      10        7          1          4.66    141.0   27        -0.1

Though he pitched in the major leagues for parts of only four seasons, Kemp Wicker spent almost half his life in baseball as a player and manager in the minors or as a scout. He was a member of some of the great teams in baseball history.

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Wade, Whistling Jake

Primary Positions: Starting pitcher, relief pitcher
Birthplace: Morehead City

First, Middle Names: Jacob Fields Jr.             Nickname: Whistling Jake
Date of Birth:  April 1, 1912   Date and Place of Death: February 1, 2006, Wildwood, NC
Burial: Bayview Cemetery, Morehead City

High School: Charles S. Wallace School, Morehead City
College: N.C. State University, Raleigh, NC

Bats: L             Throws: L        Height and Weight: 6-2, 175
Debut Year: 1936       Final Year: 1946          Years Played: 8
Teams and Years: Detroit Tigers, 1936-38; Boston Red Sox, 1939; St. Louis Browns, 1939; Chicago White Sox, 1942-44; New York Yankees, 1946; Washington Senators, 1946

Career Summary
G         W        L          Sv        ERA     IP         SO       WAR
171     27       40       3          5.00    668.1  291      0.3

Johnny Allen had to be pleased when he saw who was the warming up in the Tigers’ bullpen to face him on what he hoped would be a historic October afternoon in Detroit for the last game of the 1937 season. The Tigers were sending out the whistling wild man, Jake Wade, the worst pitcher on the team, a guy who could be depended on to walk six or seven while giving up four or five runs. Allen had to figure this one was in the bag. Move over Lefty Grove.

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Zachary, Tom

Primary Position: Starting pitcher
Birthplace: Graham

First, Middle Names: Jonathan Thompson Walton
Date of Birth:  May 7, 1896    Date and Place of Death: Jan. 24, 1969, Burlington
Burial: Alamance Memorial Park, Burlington

High School: Undetermined
College: Guilford College, Greensboro

Bats: L             Throws: L        Height and Weight: 6-1, 187
Debut Year: 1918       Final Year: 1936          Years Played: 19
Teams and Years: Philadelphia Athletics, 1918; Washington Senators, 1919-25; St. Louis Browns, 1926-27; Senators, 1927-28; N.Y. Yankees, 1928-30; Boston Braves, 1930-34; Brooklyn Dodgers, 1934-36; Philadelphia Phillies, 1936

Career Summary
G         W        L          Sv        ERA     IP           SO       WAR
533   186    191      23      3.73    3126.1   720      40.1

Awards and Honors: N.C. Sports Hall of Fame, 1966; Boys of Summer Top 100

Ninth on the list of the state’s Top 100 players, Tom Zachary as one of the best pitchers to come out of North Carolina. Only two pitchers from the state had longer major-league careers. Only four started more games. Only five won more. A crafty lefty known for his coolness under pressure, Zachary played in three World Series and won the three games that he started.

Few people, though, wanted to talk about any of that after Zachary retired to his farm in Alamance County. Everyone, however, wanted to know about the day he served up Babe Ruth’s 60th home run. “There’s probably been more talk about that pitch than any other one pitch in baseball,” Zachary pointed out more than three decades after that historic afternoon, “and it has made me somewhat of a baseball goat for years.”[I]

So, let’s get it out of the way.

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