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Eddie Rommel

Pitcher/Umpire
Born: September 13, 1897(1897-09-13)
Baltimore, Maryland
Died: August 26, 1970 (aged 72)
Baltimore, Maryland
Batted: Right Threw: Right 
MLB debut
April 19, 1920 for the Philadelphia Athletics
Last MLB appearance
September 17, 1932 for the Philadelphia Athletics
Career statistics
Pitching record     171-119
Earned run average     3.54
Strikeouts     599
Teams
Career highlights and awards

Edwin Americus Rommel (September 13, 1897 – August 26, 1970) was an American right-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball who spent his entire career with the Philadelphia Athletics from 1920 to 1932. He is considered to be the "father" of the modern knuckleball. After retiring as a player he went on to have a successful second career as a major league umpire.

Contents

Career

Born in Baltimore, Maryland, he was picked up by Philadelphia after manager Connie Mack saw him start both ends of a doubleheader for Newark; although he was knocked out by the third inning in both contests, Mack purchased his contract, noting that Rommel's curveball was breaking on the inside rather than the outside, and that was what he liked.[1] Rommel won twenty games twice for the Athletics, in 1922 and 1925. Towards the end of his career, he relied mostly on the knuckleball.

In 1922, Rommel led the American League in wins with 27 despite playing for a team that finished seventh in the league and won only 65 games. He was the winning pitcher, in relief, in the epic Game 4 of the 1929 World Series in which the Athletics overcame an 8-0 deficit by scoring ten runs against the Chicago Cubs in the seventh inning to win 10-8. Sent into the game with the Athletics down 7-0, he pitched one inning, gave up a run, was pinch-hit for--and wound up the winning pitcher, thanks to the "Mack Attack".

Rommel made many relief appearances during his career, leading the AL in relief wins in three different seasons. On Sunday, July 10, 1932, he pitched 17 innings in relief against the Cleveland Indians and earned the win. Lew Krausse had been the starter; Mack only brought two pitchers to Cleveland for the one-game series (the Athletics were in the midst of playing four home doubleheaders and this single away game in five days and, due to Pennsylvania's blue laws, had to play each Sunday on the road). Rommel relieved Krausse after one inning and finished the game, which was a 15-15 deadlock after nine innings and ended 18-17 in favor of the Athletics in 18 innings (and in which Jimmie Foxx hit three home runs), despite the Indians setting what remains a league record with 33 hits. According to baseball historian Lee Allen in The American League Story, Rommel "must have wondered what he had to do to earn his paycheck." He could have earned it more quickly had he been able to hold a 13-8 lead going into the bottom of the seventh, or had he closed out the Indians in either the 9th or 16th inning. Instead, he lost the lead in all three innings. The Indians had little better luck--a ball rolled through the first baseman's legs with two out in the ninth inning, allowing the Athletics to tie the score at 14 rather than ending the game. Rommel's 29 hits allowed remain a major league record, as do Cleveland's Johnny Burnett's nine hits. It was Rommel's final major league victory. Rommel was given his unconditional release by the Athletics at the end of the 1932 season.

Rommel was reasonably handy with the bat for a pitcher, compiling a lifetime batting average of .199--though this was in an era where batting averages were generally higher than today. In 1931, he was called upon three times by Mack to play the outfield, where he made six putouts without error, and once to play second base, where he was given no fielding chances.

Rommel surrendered ten home runs to Babe Ruth, tying him for tenth place. However, fellow Athletics pitchers Rube Walberg (17) and Howard Ehmke (13, but nine of them were with other teams) surrendered more, and Rommel gave up the same number of Ruth home runs as teammate George Earnshaw.

After retiring as a player, Rommel became an Athletics coach in 1933 and 1934, and then managed the Richmond Colts of the Piedmont League in 1935, capturing the league championship in his only season before leaving in a salary dispute.[1] He also pitched eight games for Richmond, posting a 6-2 mark. He turned to umpiring in the New York-Penn League in 1936 and the International League in 1937, moving up to the American League in 1938, and remained on the league staff through the 1959 season.[1] He worked in the World Series in 1943 and 1947, serving as crew chief the first time, and becoming the third person to appear in the Series both as a player and as an umpire. He also umpired in the All-Star Game six times: 1939, 1943, 1946, 1950, 1954 and 1958; he called balls and strikes in the 1943, '54 and '58 contests. Rommel was the second base umpire for the one-game playoff to decide the 1948 AL pennant.

Despite his background as a pitcher, Rommel didn't tolerate throwing at batters, decrying it as dishonest and not to fans' liking. He noted that he only threw at a batter once during his own career, on the insistence of catcher Cy Perkins, and that the runner (Ray Schalk) eventually scored and cost him the game.[1]

Rommel became an aide to Maryland governor J. Millard Tawes after retiring as an umpire. He died in Baltimore after a lengthy illness at age 72.[1]

Pitching higlights

  • League leader
-in wins (1922 & 1925)
-in winning percentage (1927 & 1929)
-in games pitched (1922 & 1923)
  • Top ten
-in saves, 6 times
-in shutouts, 5 times
-in earned run average, 5 times
-in innings pitched 5, times

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d e "Obituaries". The Sporting News: p. 38. 1970-09-12.  

External links

Preceded by
Carl Mays & Urban Shocker
Walter Johnson
American League Wins Champion
1922
1925 (with Ted Lyons)
Succeeded by
George Uhle
George Uhle
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