Thursday, February 09, 2006

February 9th, 1946

Preacher Roe Fractures Skull

Preacher Roe was a pretty good pitcher for the Dodgers for a number of years, going 22-3 in 1951 and was a five-time All Star. He was also, incidentally, a truly terrible hitting pitcher batting a lifetime .110 with three extra base hits in six hundred and twenty at-bats and finished with a career OPS+ of -24 (the lowest one can go is -100).

Anyway, the titular skull fracture took place during a basketball game in the off-season. Reports refer, but Roe was either acting as a coach or referee and got into a fight with a referee or coach about a call in the course of which he suffered a fractured skull. Roe was able to pitch in 1946 but largely mediocre, it was not until 1948--after he had been traded to Brooklyn from the Pirates--that Roe found his form again. The fractured skull is generally thought to be responsible for changing Roe from a power pitcher into a junkballer, a change which might be true although the correlation somewhat escapes me.

This caught my attention in large part because it seems as though basketball as been rough on baseball players over the years. Bucky Harris, who won a World Series as a player/manager with the Senators and as a manager with the Yankees--he's in the Hall of Fame--was once admonished by his owner for playing basketball in the off-season. And famously, Aaron Boone blew out his knee playing basketball during the 2003-04 off-season, an event which set off the course that eventually put Alex Rodriguez on the Yankees. Evidently, once you take them off the dirt and onto the hardwood, baseball players become a rather fragile lot.

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