Joe Nuxhall
Joseph Henry Nuxhall (ˈnʌks.hɔːl; July 30, 1928 – November 15, 2007) was an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 left-handed pitcher
In baseball, the pitcher is the player who throwsthe baseball from the pitcher's mound toward the catcher to begin each play, with the goal of retiring a batter, who attempts to either make contact with the pitched ball or draw a walk. In the numbering system used to record defensive plays, the...

 in Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball is the highest level of professional baseball in the United States and Canada, consisting of teams that play in the National League and the American League...

, mostly for the Cincinnati Reds
Cincinnati Reds
The Cincinnati Reds are a Major League Baseball team based in Cincinnati, Ohio. They are members of the National League Central Division. The club was established in 1882 as a charter member of the American Association and joined the National League in 1890....

. Immediately after retiring as a player, he became a radio broadcaster for the Reds from 1967 through 2004, and continued part-time up until his death in 2007. Nuxhall held the team's record for career games pitched
Games pitched
In baseball statistics, games pitched is the number of games in which a player appears as a pitcher; a player who is announced as the pitcher must face at least one batter, although exceptions are made if the pitcher announced in the starting lineup is injured before facing a batter, perhaps while...

 (484) from 1965 to 1975, and still holds the team mark for left-handers.

In addition to his 40 years of broadcasting Reds games, Nuxhall is most remembered for having been the youngest player ever to appear in a major league game, pitching 2/3 of an inning for the Reds on June 10, at the age of . Called upon for that one game due to player shortages during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, Nuxhall would eventually find his way back to the Reds in 1952, and the National League All-Star team in 1955 and 1956. Long known as "The Ol' Left-hander," he compiled a career earned run average
Earned run average
In baseball statistics, earned run average is the mean of earned runs given up by a pitcher per nine innings pitched. It is determined by dividing the number of earned runs allowed by the number of innings pitched and multiplying by nine...

 of 3.90 and a record of 135-117 during his 16-season career, with all but 5 of his victories
Win (baseball)
In professional baseball, there are two types of decisions: a win and a loss . In each game, one pitcher on the winning team is awarded a win and one pitcher on the losing team is given a loss in their respective statistics. These pitchers are collectively known as the pitchers of record. Only...

 being earned with the Reds. Nuxhall died in 2007 after a long battle with cancer
Cancer , known medically as a malignant neoplasm, is a large group of different diseases, all involving unregulated cell growth. In cancer, cells divide and grow uncontrollably, forming malignant tumors, and invade nearby parts of the body. The cancer may also spread to more distant parts of the...


Wartime roster

Nuxhall was born and raised in Hamilton, Ohio
Hamilton, Ohio
Hamilton is a city in Butler County, southwestern Ohio, United States. The population was 62,447 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Butler County. The city is part of the Cincinnati metropolitan area....

. During World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, many regular baseball players were unavailable while serving in the military. Meanwhile, Nuxhall was the biggest member of the ninth grade class in nearby Hamilton, Ohio
Hamilton, Ohio
Hamilton is a city in Butler County, southwestern Ohio, United States. The population was 62,447 at the 2010 census. It is the county seat of Butler County. The city is part of the Cincinnati metropolitan area....

 at 6 in 2 in (1.88 m) and 190 pounds (86.2 kg)—a left-hander with a hard fastball, but not much control. He had already been playing in a semipro league with his father for a few years. Scouts looking to fill out the Reds' depleted roster were following Orville Nuxhall, Joe's father, in 1943. But they were informed that the elder Nuxhall wasn't interested in signing a professional contract because of his five children. The scouts then became interested in the son, who was only 14 at the time. After waiting until the following year's basketball season was over, Nuxhall signed a major league contract with the Reds on February 18, 1944. General manager Warren Giles
Warren Giles
Warren Crandall Giles was a National League executive in Major League Baseball.-Baseball:Giles was elected president of the Moline, Illinois baseball club in the Three-I League in 1919 and began a 50-year career in baseball that saw him rise all the way to the presidency of the National League...

 intended to wait until school was over in June to add him to the team, but more of his players were inducted into the service in the spring. With permission from his high school principal, Nuxhall was in uniform with the team on Opening Day.

Teenage debut

On June 10, the Reds were playing the first place St. Louis Cardinals
St. Louis Cardinals
The St. Louis Cardinals are a professional baseball team based in St. Louis, Missouri. They are members of the Central Division in the National League of Major League Baseball. The Cardinals have won eleven World Series championships, the most of any National League team, and second overall only to...

 at Crosley Field
Crosley Field
Crosley Field was a Major League Baseball park located in Cincinnati, Ohio. It was the home field of the National League's Cincinnati Reds from 1912 through June 24, 1970, and the original Cincinnati Bengals football team, members of the second and third American Football League...

 and trailing 13-0 in the ninth inning when Manager Bill McKechnie
Bill McKechnie
William Boyd McKechnie was an American third baseman, manager and coach in Major League Baseball. He was the first manager to win World Series titles with two different teams , and remains one of only two managers to win pennants with three teams, also capturing the National League title in 1928...

 called on Nuxhall to enter the game. He started well, retiring the first batter he faced, Cardinals shortstop
Shortstop, abbreviated SS, is the baseball fielding position between second and third base. Shortstop is often regarded as the most dynamic defensive position in baseball, because there are more right-handed hitters in baseball than left-handed hitters, and most hitters have a tendency to pull the...

 George Fallon
George Fallon (baseball player)
George Decatur Fallon was a backup second baseman/shortstop in Major League Baseball who played for the Brooklyn Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals . A native of Jersey City, New Jersey, Fallon batted and threw right-handed...

, on a groundout. But he was unable to get out of the inning, yielding five walks
Base on balls
A base on balls is credited to a batter and against a pitcher in baseball statistics when a batter receives four pitches that the umpire calls balls. It is better known as a walk. The base on balls is defined in Section 2.00 of baseball's Official Rules, and further detail is given in 6.08...

, two hits
Hit (baseball)
In baseball statistics, a hit , also called a base hit, is credited to a batter when the batter safely reaches first base after hitting the ball into fair territory, without the benefit of an error or a fielder's choice....

, one wild pitch
Wild pitch
In baseball, a wild pitch is charged against a pitcher when his pitch is too high, too short, or too wide of home plate for the catcher to control with ordinary effort, thereby allowing a baserunner, perhaps even the batter-runner on strike three or ball four, to advance.A wild pitch usually...

 and five runs
Run (baseball)
In baseball, a run is scored when a player advances around first, second and third base and returns safely to home plate, touching the bases in that order, before three outs are recorded and all obligations to reach base safely on batted balls are met or assured...

 before being relieved. He spent the rest of the 1944 season in the minor leagues
Minor league baseball
Minor league baseball is a hierarchy of professional baseball leagues in the Americas that compete at levels below Major League Baseball and provide opportunities for player development. All of the minor leagues are operated as independent businesses...

. But unlike Jake Eisenhart
Jake Eisenhart
Jacob Henry Eisenhart was an American left-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball who appeared in one game for the Cincinnati Reds in 1944. The 6'3½", 195 lb. left-hander was a native of Perkasie, Pennsylvania....

, who made his debut for the Reds the same day by getting the last out of the frame, Nuxhall would return to pitch in the majors.

Nuxhall remains the youngest person to play in a major league game in history. During his lifetime, it was believed that a 14-year-old named Fred Chapman pitched five innings in one 1887 game. However, in 2009, the Society for American Baseball Research
Society for American Baseball Research
The Society for American Baseball Research was established in Cooperstown, New York, in August 1971 by Bob Davids of Washington, D.C. The Society's mission is to foster the research and dissemination of the history and record of baseball, while generating interest in the game...

 discovered that this player's name and age were both incorrect. The 1887 player was actually named Frank Chapman, and he was 25 years old at the time of his only major league appearance. There have also been sources listing Billy Geer
Billy Geer
William Henry Harrison Geer, born as George Harrison Geer, , was an American Major League Baseball player who played most of his career as a shortstop for five seasons and a total of seven teams...

, who played for the New York Mutuals
New York Mutuals
The Mutual Base Ball Club of New York was a leading American baseball club almost throughout its 20-year history. It was established during 1857, the year of the first baseball convention, just too late to be a founding member of the National Association of Base Ball Players. It was a charter...

 of the National Association
National Association of Professional Base Ball Players
The National Association of Professional Base Ball Players , or simply the National Association , was founded in 1871 and continued through the 1875 season...

, as having a birth date in 1859, but this is questionable as well, as is whether the National Association was a major league
National Association as a major league
Whether to cover the National Association as a major league is a recurring and crucial matter of difference in historical work on American baseball—that is, among historians, encyclopedists, database builders, and others who work on the facts of baseball history on the playing field.- First...


Joe Reliford, a batboy for the Class D Minor League Fitzgerald Pioneers, became the youngest person to ever play in a professional baseball game in 1952 when he was 12 years old.

Minor leagues

Following his appearance with the Reds, he was assigned to the Birmingham Barons
Birmingham Barons
The Birmingham Barons are a minor league baseball team based in Birmingham, Alabama. The team, which plays in the Southern League, is the Double-A affiliate of the Chicago White Sox major-league club....

 in the Southern League
Southern League (baseball)
The Southern League is a minor league baseball league which operates in the Southern United States. It is classified a Double-A league. The original league was formed in , and shut down in . A new league, the Southern Association, was formed in , consisting of twelve teams...

, but pitched only a third of an inning there (he struck out
In baseball or softball, a strikeout or strike-out occurs when a batter receives three strikes during his time at bat. A strikeout is a statistic recorded for both pitchers and batters....

 his first batter, then allowed a hit, five walks, a hit batter and five runs). Nuxhall attended spring training
Spring training
In Major League Baseball, spring training is a series of practices and exhibition games preceding the start of the regular season. Spring training allows new players to try out for roster and position spots, and gives existing team players practice time prior to competitive play...

 with the Reds in , but decided to remain home until he finished high school the following year. He regained his amateur status and played football, basketball and baseball for Hamilton High School as a senior in 1946, earning all-state honors in football and basketball. Over the next five years, Nuxhall played in the minor leagues with Syracuse
Syracuse, New York
Syracuse is a city in and the county seat of Onondaga County, New York, United States, the largest U.S. city with the name "Syracuse", and the fifth most populous city in the state. At the 2010 census, the city population was 145,170, and its metropolitan area had a population of 742,603...

, Lima
Lima, Ohio
Lima is a city in and the county seat of Allen County, Ohio, United States. The municipality is located in northwestern Ohio along Interstate 75 approximately north of Dayton and south-southwest of Toledo....

, Muncie
Muncie, Indiana
Muncie is a city in Center Township, Delaware County in east central Indiana, best known as the home of Ball State University and the birthplace of the Ball Corporation. It is the principal city of the Muncie, Indiana, Metropolitan Statistical Area, which has a population of 118,769...

, Columbia
Columbia, South Carolina
Columbia is the state capital and largest city in the U.S. state of South Carolina. The population was 129,272 according to the 2010 census. Columbia is the county seat of Richland County, but a portion of the city extends into neighboring Lexington County. The city is the center of a metropolitan...

, Charleston
Charleston, West Virginia
Charleston is the capital and largest city of the U.S. state of West Virginia. It is located at the confluence of the Elk and Kanawha Rivers in Kanawha County. As of the 2010 census, it has a population of 51,400, and its metropolitan area 304,214. It is the county seat of Kanawha County.Early...

, and Tulsa
Tulsa, Oklahoma
Tulsa is the second-largest city in the state of Oklahoma and 46th-largest city in the United States. With a population of 391,906 as of the 2010 census, it is the principal municipality of the Tulsa Metropolitan Area, a region with 937,478 residents in the MSA and 988,454 in the CSA. Tulsa's...

 before returning to the Reds in .

Return to "The Show"

Nuxhall spent almost 15 of his 16 major league seasons with Cincinnati, where he was a two-time National League
National League
The National League of Professional Baseball Clubs, known simply as the National League , is the older of two leagues constituting Major League Baseball, and the world's oldest extant professional team sports league. Founded on February 2, 1876, to replace the National Association of Professional...

 All-Star and led the league in shutout
In team sports, a shutout refers to a game in which one team prevents the opposing team from scoring. While possible in most major sports, they are highly improbable in some sports, such as basketball....

s in . He also played for the Kansas City Athletics
Oakland Athletics
The Oakland Athletics are a Major League Baseball team based in Oakland, California. The Athletics are a member of the Western Division of Major League Baseball's American League. From to the present, the Athletics have played in the Coliseum....

 and Los Angeles Angels
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim are a professional baseball team based in Anaheim, California, United States. The Angels are a member of the Western Division of Major League Baseball's American League. The "Angels" name originates from the city in which the team started, Los Angeles...

 in the American League
American League
The American League of Professional Baseball Clubs, or simply the American League , is one of two leagues that make up Major League Baseball in the United States and Canada. It developed from the Western League, a minor league based in the Great Lakes states, which eventually aspired to major...

 before returning to the Reds. In he broke Eppa Rixey
Eppa Rixey
Eppa Rixey Jr. , nicknamed "Jephtha", was an American left-handed pitcher who played 21 seasons for the Philadelphia Phillies and Cincinnati Reds in Major League Baseball from 1912 to 1933...

's team record of 440 games pitched; his final mark of 484 stood until Clay Carroll
Clay Carroll
Clay Palmer Carroll is a former relief pitcher in Major League Baseball with a 15-year career from 1964 to 1978. He pitched for the Milwaukee Braves & Atlanta Braves, Cincinnati Reds, St...

 surpassed it in .

Second career

Nuxhall retired from the Reds in April and under the guidance of Hamilton sports broadcaster, Ray Motley, immediately began his second career as a Reds broadcaster
Broadcasting is the distribution of audio and video content to a dispersed audience via any audio visual medium. Receiving parties may include the general public or a relatively large subset of thereof...

 despite his lack of broadcasting experience.

Part of his trademark radio signoff phrase - "This is the old left-hander, rounding third and heading for home" - is displayed on the outside of the Reds' stadium, Great American Ball Park
Great American Ball Park
The Great American Ball Park is a Major League Baseball park in Cincinnati, Ohio. It is the home of the National League's Cincinnati Reds. It opened in 2003, replacing the Reds' former home, Cinergy Field, which was known as Riverfront Stadium from its opening in June 1970 until the 1996...

, which opened in . A likeness of Nuxhall (see photo) is one of four statues that decorate the main entrance of the stadium. He was elected to the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame in , and officially retired from the Reds on October 3, , 60 years after his pitching debut, though he still made guest appearances on some game broadcasts. For many years after retiring as a player and during his broadcasting career, Nuxhall pitched batting practice for the Reds. In addition to being called "Nuxy" and "the ole lefthander," Joe was also known as "Hamilton Joe," particularly to locals.

On June 6, 2007, the Reds honored Nuxhall, Marty Brennaman
Marty Brennaman
Franchester Martin "Marty" Brennaman , is an American sportscaster, known primarily as the radio voice of Major League Baseball's Cincinnati Reds on the Cincinnati Reds Radio Network.-Early life:...

, and Waite Hoyt
Waite Hoyt
Waite Charles Hoyt was an American right-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball, one of the dominant pitchers of the 1920s, and the winningest pitcher for the New York Yankees during that decade...

 with replica microphones that hang on the wall near the radio booth. At Redsfest in December, 2007 the Reds announced Nuxhall would be honored throughout the 2008 baseball season - their uniforms would display a dark patch with the word "NUXY" printed in white. On March 31, 2008 the Cincinnati Reds paid tribute to Nuxhall by wearing his #41 jersey for opening day.

In December 2007, Nuxhall was named as one of the ten finalists for the National Baseball Hall of Fame's Ford C. Frick Award, an honor bestowed annually on broadcasters who make major contributions to the game of baseball. Of more than 122,000 online ballots cast by fans, Nuxhall received 82,304 votes. Despite this show of support, it was announced on February 19, 2008 that the Frick election committee had voted in favor of the voice of the Seattle Mariners, Dave Niehaus
Dave Niehaus
David Arnold Niehaus was an American sportscaster. He was the lead play-by-play announcer for the American League's Seattle Mariners from their inaugural season in until his death after the 2010 season. In 2008, the National Baseball Hall of Fame awarded Niehaus with the Ford C. Frick Award, the...


His book and character education fund

In September 2004, Orange Frazer Press
Orange Frazer Press
is an independent publisher headquartered in Wilmington, Ohio. Founded in 1987, the press is named after Orange Frazer, an Ohio man who ran a grocery store in Wilmington with his brother John. Frazer also traveled the world, clerked for the Ohio Supreme Court, and collected enough books to create...

 released Joe: Rounding Third & Heading for Home. A portion of the proceeds from the book benefits the Joe Nuxhall Character Education Fund, which was established in 2003 to underwrite character development programs and projects for children.

Community remembrance

In the days following Nuxhall's death, several radio stations in the Cincinnati area devoted shows to him, and fans left cards, flowers and banners at the statue of Nuxhall at Great American Ball Park. A public visitation ceremony was attended by thousands of fans and several local and national sports and broadcasting personalities.
At his visitation held at Fairfield High School (Fairfield, Ohio)
Fairfield High School (Fairfield, Ohio)
Fairfield High School is a public high school in Fairfield, Ohio. It is the only high school in the Fairfield City School District. It currently has about 2,400 students in grades 10-12...

, an estimated 6,000 people showed up to pay their respects to Nuxhall and the Nuxhall family.

2008 Opening Day Memorial

The Reds remembered Nuxhall on their 2008 Opening Day. Players wore an alternate jersey during their introductions, which bore the number 41 and Nuxhall's name on the back. Aaron Harang
Aaron Harang
Aaron Michael Harang is a Major League Baseball right-handed starting pitcher.-Amateur career:Harang graduated from Patrick Henry High School then went on to San Diego State University...

, who usually wears the number 39 jersey, was allowed by MLB to wear the number 41 jersey with Nuxhall's name for the entire game. Nuxhall's number 41 was honored by the team displaying it in left-center field over the Reds' bullpen. Reds players wore patches with "Nuxy" and his number 41 on them as a tribute.

See also

  • List of Major League Baseball leaders in career wins
  • List of baseball players who went directly to the major leagues

External links

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