Primary Position: Catcher
First, Middle Names: David Lamar
Date of Birth: Dec. 24, 1912 Date and Place of Death: Oct. 16, 1971, Orlando, FL
Burial: Lakeland Memorial Park, Monroe, FL
High School: Undetermined
College: Wingate University, Wingate, NC; University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC
Bats: R Throws: R Height and Weight: 6-1, 183
Debut Year: 1939 Final Year: 1939 Years Played: 1
Team and Year: Philadelphia Phillies, 1939
G AB H R RBI HR BA. OBP. SLG. WAR
15 25 7 2 0 0 .280 .280 .320 -0.2
First, it was the Washington Monument. Then, a skyscraper in Cleveland. Pretty soon baseballs were being tossed off tall structures and even out of airplanes and blimps all over the major leagues, and down on the ground players tried to catch them. Some lost teeth or broke noses. One was knocked clean out.
John Lardner, Ring’s son, was a pretty fair sportswriter himself. He once tried to explain what he called “the morbid lure” of this odd pastime that flourished during the early part of the 20th century. He thinks Walter Johnson inadvertently had something to do with it. The great Washington Senators pitcher and Hall of Famer was the hardest thrower anyone had ever seen in that era before radar guns. He was called The Big Train because, after all, locomotives were the fastest things anyone had ever seen. Gabby Street, Johnson’s catcher on the Senators, liked to encourage the legend of Walter’s blinding speed. A ham of the first order, Street often showed newspaper photographers how he shoved a raw steak in his mitt to protect his hand.
“And when fertile minds began to speculate on the possibility of this great catcher holding real, superhuman speed – the speed of gravity – there was the Washington Monument ready at hand,” Lardner wrote.[I]