Friday, April 14, 2006
Wild Bill Luhrsen Born
He's in the Encyclopedia that way, one of--believe it or not--two men to make it as "Wild Bill," the other was Wild Bill Widner, who played 1887-1891 right around when this Wild Bill was learning to walk. The most famous--and best--Wild Bill is probably "Wild Bill" Donovan who won 186 games over an eighteen year career that lasted from 1898 all the way to 1918, and included twenty-five win seasons in 1901 and 1907.
The origin of the nickname seems to be either issues with either control of the ball (this Wild Bill walked almost five per nine innings over the course of his limited big league career) or control of oneself. Donovan is listed as one of Bill James' "Drinking Men" of the 1900s and Christy Mathewson characterized Donovan's readiness to pitch as "a delightful atmosphere of uncertainty." Either way, Wild Bill is probably not something one wanted to be, and not surprisingly there hasn't been one since 1950.