Joe: Rounding Third & Heading for Home

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9781882203376: Joe: Rounding Third & Heading for Home
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He has been cursed since age 15, carrying always the appositive affixed eternally to his name--the youngest pitcher in major league baseball. And yet the Joe Nuxhall story neither begins nor ends with the appositive. Baseball, in fact, may not even have been his best sport. He was a high school fullback, big and fast and good enough to be All-State, and he was unquestionably the best schoolboy basketball center in Ohio. He had pitched ten no-hitters before he was 15, however, and when he pitched for the Cincinnati Reds that historic time, he first had to get permission from his 9th grade principal, and ferried himself to Crosley Field and back, alone, on the bus. It was not, as history tells us, an auspicious occasion (an ERA of 67.50), but it launched the remarkable career of perhaps the best-loved and most enduring sports figure Cincinnati has ever seen. Noted sportscaster Greg Hoard's new biography, Joe, dramatically paints the Depression era background of "Hamilton Joe," closing industrial league games for his athletic father when the boy was barely a teenager, facing feared veteran slugger Stan Musial his first time up, and on to Birmingham, where he watched, astounded, while a lanky Negro pitcher named Satchel Paige warmed up by throwing strikes across a piece of chewing gum tinfoil. "The Old Left-Hander" pitched twenty-two seasons of professional baseball, including an All-Star year in 1955 when he led the league in shut-outs, and even when he retired to the broadcasting booth, he was still pitching batting practice. Greg Hoard's tale of baseball's last great innocent is the story of a charmed life, in which a blue-collar kid from a gritty industrial town, by great athleticism and a disarming guilelessness, found himself an enduring legend.

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