Baseball History: Howard Ehmke

355px-HowardEhmkeThere are a lot of people today who claim that the pace baseball is slow.

Just takes too much time and not enough action.

Those people would have been happy to be at Navin Field when that afternoon’s contest lasted one hour and 13 minutes on Aug. 8, 1920.

Detroit right-hander Howard Ehmke tossed a three-hit shutout against the New York Yankees as the Tigers would only need a fourth-inning run to win the game.

Ehmke had eight strikeouts in the fast paced performance, while surrendering hits to Roger Peckinpaugh, Del Pratt and Ping Bodie. Babe Ruth walked and was eventually caught stealing.

Ty Cobb scored the run for the Tigers as he led the way with two hits against Yankees hurler Rip Collins. Collins gave up just six hits as he suffered the tough-luck loss.

Ehmke’s best season came in 1923 when he was 20-17 in his first year with the Boston Red Sox. He threw a no-hitter at Shibe Park against the Philadelphia A’s on Sept. 7.

The Red Sox won 4-0 as Ehmke fanned one and walked another in his gem. It only took 94 minutes to play that game.

Despite his two outstanding performances, Ehmke’s claim to fame came late in his career when he started the opener of the 1929 World Series for the A’s against the Chicago Cubs. He was traded in a five-player deal during the 1926 season from Boston to Philadelphia.

During the 1929 season, Ehmke made eight starts in 11 appearances with a 7-2 record and a 3.29 ERA.

With the Cubs lineup featuring only one left handed batter, Philadelphia manager Connie Mack chose Ehmke to start the first game of the series in Chicago instead of George Earnshaw (24-8) and Lefty Grove (20-6).

howard ehmkeThe series opened on Oct. 8, Ehmke had not pitched since Sept. 13. The inactivity didn‘t cause any problems for Ehmke as he set a World Series record with 13 strikeouts in the 3-1 complete game win over the Cubs.

The game, which took just over two hours to play, was scoreless until the seventh when Jimmie Foxx hit a solo homer off Cubs starter Charlie Root. The A’s added two more runs in the ninth, while the Cubs picked up an unearned tally in the bottom of the frame.

Although Ehmke would only last into the fourth inning of the fifth contest of the series, the A’s would win the game and the title.

Ehmke pitched 15 years in the big leagues and posted a 166-166 record, while playing for Buffalo (1915 Federal League), Detroit (1916-1922), Boston (1923-1926) and Philadelphia (1926-1930).

According to its Web site, the Howard Ehmke Manufacturing Company began in 1929. Mack, Ehmke’s former manager with the A’s, purchased a tarp from the company that would be used to cover the infield when it rained. Although the business has changed dramatically over the year, it still operates in Philadelphia today.


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