We’ve grown lazy as a society…it’s clear. Just look at what we call athletes and celebrities who are dating one another, you can see it in the inventiveness (or lack there of) of our nicknames. We’ve had two LTs in the last 20 years and typically just shorten names to V-Jax, or D-Jax, etc.
Quite simply (and I think I’ve written this before), I long for the days of players like Schoolboy Rowe who liquefied greenies and chewed tobacco. In short, when men were men and pitchers hit like Babe Ruth (well not exactly). According to Wikipedia, Rowe got the nickname while playing for a men’s team as a 15-year-old. Now that is how your earn a nickname!
You have to admire the back of Chris Pittaro’s card for more than just Lynnwood Thomas Rowe’s nickname. We get a nice factoid on Rowe’s career and the history of the Detroit Tigers as Rowe was the first Tigers pitcher to hit a grand salami.
Rowe was actually a very good hitter by non-Micah Owings-standards. Rowe hit 16 HRs – that’s tied for the 15th most all time with Jim Kaat and Jim Tobin.
He wasn’t just Ryan Howard with the bat, he had a little Ichiro in him — only 56 pitchers have ever won 20 games and also hit over .300 in the same season. Rowe is one of them. He did it in 1934, and, while that is a looooong time ago, most of the seasons occurred before 1900. In fact, the feat has only happened 11 times since Rowe did it — most recently by Mike Hampton in 1999.
Speaking of the number 16 — Rowe once tallied 16 consecutive wins in 1934, which is tied for the 12th longest streak of consecutive wins. Not surprisingly, Old Hoss Radburn had 18 consecutive victories in 1884. Meanwhile Clemens had 20 consecutive wins from 1998-1999. I don’t remember this being a big deal at the time, perhaps because I was an Orioles fan and hated Clemens, but it is pretty cool and one underrated Clemens non-bat throwing/country music singer mistress factoid. When you look at win streaks that were contained in just one year, Rowe’s streak is the 7th longest in history.
Schoolboy really lived up to his name as his best seasons happened while he was relatively young. During the 1934-1936 seasons, Rowe was 24-26-yeards-old respectively and averaged 20 complete games, a 3.87 ERA, and 1.28 WHIP. He would win 62 games over those three seasons. Unfortunately, like many of his generation, he missed significant time during peak years for World War II. In the season directly before the war, Rowe pitched 199 innings and posted a 2.94 ERA and 1.13 WHIP. In the season after his military service, Rowe pitched 136 innings and posted a 2.12 ERA and 0.98 WHIP.
No longer a schoolboy, Rowe would call it quits three years later at the age of 39 and would die at 50. His life in professional baseball spanned some 24+ years, his life outside of baseball about 26 years.
As for Chris Pittaro, he was an infielder who had less HRs than Rowe. In fact he never hit a major league HR. He’d only play one year in Detroit and get 68 major league plate appearances in 1985. He was traded to Minnesota the following year and would play sparingly over the next two seasons before leaving major league baseball for good. If only he had an Edna on his side…