|Smoky Joe Wood, Ex-Pitcher, Is Dead; Was 34-5 in 1912
WEST HAVEN, Conn., July 28 (UPI)
Joe Wood, a former Boston Red Sox pitcher known to old-time fans as Smoky Joe, died Saturday at a convalescent home. He was 95 years old.
A native of Kansas City, Mo., Mr. Wood played for the Red Sox and the Cleveland Indians from 1908 through 1922, but suffered a sore arm after a magnificent 1912 season. He finished his career with a 116-57 record, and he coached the Yale baseball team from 1923 through 1942.
Mr. Wood, who said a Boston sportswriter gave him the nickname “Smoky” because of his fastball, earlier this year became the first former professional baseball player to receive an honorary degree from Yale.
Confined to a wheelchair, Mr. Wood received the honorary degree at a ceremony in January when he was described as the country’s oldest-living former major league baseball player.
Mr. Wood, however, was never able to achieve another honor – being elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y. The Hall of Fame stipulates that a candidate’s career be “outstanding for a long period of time,” but he never came close to matching the feats of his 1912 season and switched to the outfield late in his career.
But what a performance it was in 1912. Then only 22, he compiled a 34-5 record, leading the American League with an .872 percentage. He had a 1.91 earned run average that season, pitched 10 shutouts and during one stretch won league-record 16 consecutive games. He went on to win three games in the World Series against the New York Giants.