Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

Eddie Plank

Position: Pitcher
Philadelphia Athletics, 1901-1914; St. Louis Terriers, 1915; St. Louis Browns 1916-1917

Before enrolling at Gettysburg College, Eddie Plank had no organized baseball experience. Moreover, he was 21 years old at the time and had spent his entire life on a farm.

However, the Gettysburg coach was Frank Foreman, a former major-league pitcher whose roots in the game reached back to the old Union Association in 1884. Foreman cajoled Plank into trying out for the Gettysburg varsity and soon realized that he had a prize pitcher.

Eddie Plank
Eddie Plank won 20 or more games seven times despite having
a limited repertoire as a pitcher.

Although nearly age 26 when he was graduated from Gettysburg in 1901, Edward Stewart Plank (1875-1926) was signed by Connie Mack of the Philadelphia A's, who were about to embark on their first season in the fledgling American League. Proceeding straight to the A's without a day in the minors, Plank won 17 games as a rookie and quickly became the bane not only of enemy hitters but also of American League umpires.

Although his pitches were quite straightforward -- he had only a fastball and a curve -- he worked so deliberately that he seemed to take forever between deliveries. Plank claimed that he slowed the pace of the game to rattle hitters. Additionally, he kept them off balance by talking to himself on the mound. Sportswriters found him poor copy; he was so colorless he was almost dull.

Plank's achievements, though, were anything but lackluster. He won 20 or more games in a season seven times for the A's, a club record that he shares with Lefty Grove. Plank nevertheless failed to lead the American League in wins, ERA, or strikeouts, nor was he ever considered the A's staff ace. He became one of the few Hall of Famers to ride the bench for an entire World Series when Mack preferred to go with Jack Coombs and Chief Bender against the Cubs in the 1910 classic.

After slipping to 15 wins in 1914 and losing the second game of the World Series that fall, a heartbreaking 1-0 verdict to Bill James of the Miracle Braves, Plank deserted the A's that winter to play in the renegade Federal League. Thus it was that his 300th win came in the uniform of the 1915 St. Louis Terriers.

The following year, the St. Louis Browns signed Plank, and he finished out his career with them in 1917, the first southpaw in major-league history to win 300 games. Plank still holds the record for the most wins and the most shutouts by an American League portsider.

Eddie pitched semipro ball for several years after leaving the majors and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1946.

Here are Eddie Plank's major league totals:

327 193 2.34 622 412 4,505.1 3,956 1,173 1,072 2,246

See more information on the Baseball Hall of Fame:

See the players in the Baseball Hall of Fame by position:

Second Basemen
First Basemen
Third Basemen

See the members of the Baseball Hall of Fame by team:

Atlanta Braves
Cincinnati Reds Milwaukee Brewers Philadelphia Phillies Seattle Mariners
Anaheim Angels Cleveland Indians Minnesota Twins Pittsburgh Pirates Tampa Bay Devil Rays
Baltimore Orioles
Detroit Tigers
Montreal Expos
St. Louis Browns Texas Rangers
Boston Red Sox
Houston Astros
New York Mets
St. Louis Cardinals Toronto Blue Jays
Chicago CubsKansas City Royals

New York Yankees

San Diego Padres Washington Senators
Chicago White SoxLos Angeles DodgersOakland A's
San Francisco Giants