Eppa Rixey

Position: Pitcher
Teams: Philadelphia Phillies, 1912-1920; Cincinnati Reds, 1921-1933

Eppa Rixey
In 1969, Eppa Rixey was voted the
greatest left-handed pitcher in
Cincinnati Reds history.

Prior to Warren Spahn, Eppa Rixey held the NL record for the most career wins by a left-handed pitcher (266). He still holds the major-league record for the most career losses (251) by a southpaw.

The son of a wealthy Virginia family, Eppa Rixey (1891-1963) was a chemistry major at the University of Virginia when his pitching skill on the college team was noted by National League umpire Cy Rigler.

Recommended to the Phillies by Rigler, Rixey joined the National League team in 1912 without any previous professional experience. Although he stood 6'5" and weighed 210 pounds, Eppa was anything but a fireballer. From the outset of his career, his strong point was control and keeping hitters off balance with an assortment of breaking pitches and changeups.

Rixey’s first four seasons with the Phillies were undistinguished. Even when the club won the National League pennant in 1915, he could fashion no better than an 11-12 record. In 1916, however, Eppa broke through in a big way, winning 22 games and giving the Phillies, who also featured Pete Alexander, the best lefty-righty mound tandem in the game.

When Alexander was traded to the Cubs after the 1917 season, the Phils immediately fell out of contention. After missing the 1918 campaign while serving in an Army chemical warfare unit, Rixey returned to the Phillies early in 1919 but could do nothing to prevent the club’s tumble into the cellar.

The Phils sank even deeper into the basement the following year as Eppa lost a loop-high 22 games. To Rixey’s relief, Philadelphia owner William Baker traded him to Cincinnati just before the start of the 1921 ¬≠season.

Rixey toiled for 13 years with the Reds, three times winning 20 or more games in a season. His pinnacle came in 1922, when his 25 victories paced the National League. Nicknamed “Jeptha” by Cincinnati sportswriter William Phelon, Rixey remained one of the mainstays of the Reds mound staff through the 1920s. He retired from baseball in 1933.

When Spahn broke his National League mark for the most career victories by a southpaw, Rixey said, “I’m glad somebody finally did it. If Warren hadn’t broken my record, no one would have ever known who set it.”

Named to the Hall of Fame in 1963, Rixey died in Cincinnati little more than a month later, on February 28. In 1969 he was voted the greatest left-handed pitcher in Reds history.

Here are Eppa Rixey's major league totals:

266 251 3.15692 290 4,494.24,6331,5721,0821,350

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