Candy Cummings

Position: Pitcher
Teams: Brooklyn Excelsiors, 1866-1867; Stars of Brooklyn, 1868-1872; New York Mutuals, 1872; Lord Baltimores, 1873; Philadelphia Athletics, 1874; Hartford Dark Blues, 1875-1876; Cincinnati Reds, 1877

William Arthur Cummings (1848-1924) came by his nickname of Candy in the late 1860s. During that period, when Cummings was first gaining prominence as a pitcher, "candy" was a popular term for anything that was one of the best of its kind. Cummings was clearly that.

Pitching for the Excelsior club of Brooklyn, Candy regularly beat the best amateur teams of his day despite his unimposing physical dimensions. He stood but 5'9" and never weighed more than 120 pounds during his baseball career.

Cummings’s forte was a baffling curveball. Some historians believe he invented the pitch. Others think that at most he had a part in its evolution. Cummings was inducted into the Hall of Fame among the first batch of immortals in 1939.

Since there is little to cite in his major-league career -- he played just six seasons -- one must assume that the historians who deemed him the creator of the curveball held sway when the first Hall of Fame ballots were cast.

From the Excelsiors, Cummings moved to a team called the Stars of Brooklyn. He remained with them for four years and then joined the New York Mutuals of the National Association. "Revolving," or changing teams at will, was a common practice in the 1870s, and Cummings took full advantage of the privilege. In his six professional seasons he played in five different cities, allowing only Hartford the benefit of his curves for more than one campaign.

A stalwart hurler in the National Association, Cummings was nearly finished by the time the National League was formed in 1876. Although only age 28, he was forced to cede his title as Hartford’s ace pitcher to 20-year-old Tommy Bond. The following year, the Hartford Blues put up little fuss when Candy declared his intention to sign with Cincinnati.

His experience in the Queen City was one that Cummings could have done without. When he won just five games in 19 decisions, one paper described his record as “sickening” and his presence on the team as "demoralizing." Upon learning at the end of the season that he was leaving the team, the same paper said, "No one who has pride in the game will mourn his loss to the club."

After leaving baseball, Cummings ran a paint and wallpaper business for many years. He moved to Toledo, Ohio, in 1920 and died there on May 17, 1924.

Here are Candy Cummings' major league totals:

146 92 .596

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