Wilson Valdez of the Phillies became the first position player in over a decade to earn the victory in a game last night, when he shut down the Reds in a hitless nineteenth inning last night, including retiring the reigning NL Most Valuable Player Joey Votto. With the victory, the veteran infielder also joined an exclusive club: pitchers who have won every single one of the games in which they appeared. If we exclude, despite his amusing name, Charlie Furbush of the Tigers, who won his debut on Monday (the odds are in favor of him appearing again), Valdez is member #38 in the history of baseball - and only the sixth since 1938.
After the jump, we'll look at some of the interesting members of the club.
Sleeper Sullivan, Babe Doty, Skel Roach, Billy Ging, Ginger Clark, Elmer Bliss, Doc McMahon and Hal Schwenk. I've got little to say about these players, who all joined the club between its inauguration in 1875 and 1913, though Schwenk did pitch 11 innings in his single appearance. I just think they have remarkably cool names. Go on: read them aloud, let them roll off your tongue, and bask in the richness of baseball history thus released.
Dan Bickham - 1886 Cincinnati Red Stockings. I Can Has Run Support? That's the only way Bickham got his membership, as his sole outing resulted in 11 runs on 13 hits and three walks. Admittedly, eight of the runs were unearned, but no pitcher since the start of World War II has allowed so many runs and got the W - I guess if you do so in your first game, quit while you're ahead. It can only go downhill from there.
Harry Raymond - 1889 Louisville Colonels. Primarily a third-baseman, he started one game for the team, but looking at his box-score, you can see why this appearance was a one-off. Raymond walked eleven batters: no pitcher has walked 11 in a game since Rick Jones did for the 1977 Mariners. Despite this, the eight hits and two wild pitches, he allowed just the two runs, one of which was unearned.
George Stultz - 1894 Boston Beaneaters. Winning your only appearance is rare. But winning with a complete game and no earned runs? Three have done that, none since the start of the 20th century. Stultz's was perhaps the most impressive, scattering four hits with two unearned runs the only damage. The Braves apparently courted him in 1955 as the oldest living 'Brave' - he was 81 - but he couldn't be coaxed into leaving his home town.
Katsy Keifer - 1914 Indianapolis Hoosiers. Keifer may only have played one game, but it proved a crucial one. It was the last day of the season, and his victory over the St. Louis Terriers clinched the Federal League pennant for the Hoosiers. He also helped his own cause with a hit and drove in a run, in a complete game 4-2 victory. It was also the last game they played in the town, moving to Newark the next year
High Pockets Kelly - 1917 New York Giants. The only Cooperstown member on the list, albeit one described by Bill James as "the worst player in the Hall of Fame" - though against that, he does possess one of the finest nicknames ever. Primarily a first-basemen, as a 21-year old in 1917, he did show up for five innings of relief in one game, and held the opposition scoreless on four hits and a walk, to earn the W
John Gaddy - 1938 Brooklyn Dodgers. Another rare club are the pitchers who were not just 1-for-1, but 2-for-2. There's only three of those too, Charlie Dewald being the first in 1890, and Gaddy the second. He was also the last 100%er to throw a complete game, in his second appearance, holding Philadelphia to two unearned runs. He only pitched four frames in his debut, the second game of a doubleheader which was restricted to six innings for some reason.
Al Autry - 1976 Atlanta Braves. Autry was a well-seasoned minor-leaguer, with 167 starts under his belt, and got the call for the second-game of a double-header against Houston. The official attendance was only 970, but Autry held the Astros to three runs in five innings and got the W. However, manager Dave Bristol seemed to have an enmity for the player, at one point telling Autry, "I run this fuckin' team and you'll pitch when I say so!". Which would be never.
John Leroy - 1997 Atlanta Braves. One of the sadder stories discovered, Leroy was a late-season call-up for Atlanta and came in to pitch the ninth and tenth innings of a game in Shea Stadium, with the score 6-6. An RBI single from future D-back Danny Bautista made a winner of Leroy, but he issues with blood clots in his pitching arm and never appeared in the show again. In June 2001 he suffered an aneurysm and died, at the age of 26.
Juan Peña - 1999 Boston Red Sox. Pena had two brilliant starts for Boston, holding the Angels to three hits over six in his debut, following up with seven shutout innings against the Jays. He was expected to be in their 2000 rotation but experienced pain in the elbow during spring training. It was discovered to be a torn medial collateral ligament, and surgery derailed his career. He was never the same pitcher, and retired in 2005 at age 28.
Brent Mayne - 2000 Colorado Rockies. While position players had pitched before, this was the first "ran out of relievers" example. On August 22, 2000 at Coors, the Rockies fought the Braves to a 6-6 tie after 11, but burned two arms in the tenth and three in the 11th. Having used all nine available arms, they turned to catcher Brent Mayne, who'd later be part of the glorious 2004 D-backs. He allowed a single and a walk, but posted a zero, and won on an Adam Melhuse single. The losing pitcher? The Brave everyone loves to hate, John Rocker.
Chris Saenz - 2004 Milwaukee Brewers. Born in Tucson and went to Pima Community College, his story is very similar to Peña's. He was called up from Double-A to make an emergency start for the Brew Crew in 2004, but Tommy John surgery on his elbow led to him missing all of the next two seasons. While many pitchers recover from TJ, Saenz didn't, posting an 8.24 ERA over 2007-08, and never making it back above Double-A.
Wilson Valdez. Per my colleague Jeff Sullivan, "Having begun the game at second base, he became the first player to start at a position and then earn a win as the pitcher since Babe Ruth did it in 1921... Valdez volunteered to take the mound in the dugout, and with the crowd chanting his name, he pumped gas, reaching as high as 90 m.p.h. Looking a little like Tony Pena Jr., Valdez needed just ten pitches to work around a HBP and retire Joey Votto, Jay Bruce and (real) pitcher Carlos Fisher."