Tuesday, October 17, 2006

October 17th, 1927

Johnny Klippstein Born

Born in Washington DC, Klippstein probably deserved mention in my entry on ballplayers from our Nation's Capital since while he is only the second winningest pitcher born there, he is the winningest to pitch in the second half of last century; indeed, the winningest DC pitcher outside of the deadball era. Klippstein began his career for the Cubs in 1950 as a twenty-two year old, supposedly after being signed at sixteen from a try-out in camp in Wisconsin by the Cards and bouncing around a series of minor-league moves.

Klippstein was sometimes credited with having one of the best fastballs in the league, with a contemporary Baseball Digest article claiming that his figure--he's listed at a rail-like 6"1', 185--"belie[d] the wickedness of his fastball." Wicked fastball or not, he was good enough to win more than a hundred games (albeit just barely) despite struggling with his control. For his career Klippstein walked nearly four and a half per nine innings; in his worse seasons he went well above, approaching six per nine in 1953.

Although he was traded from the Cubs after the 1954 season, Klippstein remained a lifelong Cubs' fan holding season tickets for the team. He died on October Tenth, just shy of both his seventy-sixth birthday and fifty-second wedding anniversary. According to his family, Klippstein died shortly after the Cubs scored the fifth (and winning) run in this playoff game which he was listening to. Given how that series turned out for the Cubbies, maybe it's best Klippstein moved into the next world, one where presumably things as silly as Billy Goat Curses and fans with good intentions but poor results aren't the same source of agony they are in this.

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