Dick Fowler (CANADIAN BASEBALL HALL OF FAME)

Dick Fowler

This article was written by Gary Belleville

Dick Fowler (CANADIAN BASEBALL HALL OF FAME)In the late 1940s, Dick Fowler was one of the American League’s top pitchers. He tossed 61 complete games between 1946 and 1949 — only three AL pitchers threw more ­— and posted back-to-back 15-win seasons despite an aching shoulder.1 He played in an era when sore-armed hurlers were expected to keep throwing.2 That’s exactly what Fowler did. He pitched through jaw-clenching pain for most of his final seven years of professional baseball.

In 1942 Fowler tossed all 16 innings of a heartbreaking 1-0 loss to the St. Louis Browns. After sacrificing three years of his career to military service in his early 20s, he defeated those same Browns, 1-0, by pitching a no-hitter just three weeks after being discharged from the Canadian Army. When the pain eventually sidelined his fastball, he started throwing a knuckleball. He used it to befuddle the White Sox in a 12-inning shutout in 1949. Buddy Rosar, a five-time All-Star catcher, called him “the smartest pitcher I ever handled.”3

Fowler was also one of the most likable players of his day. Both teammates and opponents testified to his modesty, politeness, patience, and good humor.4 That modesty helped make him one of the most underrated pitchers to ever wear a Philadelphia Athletics uniform.5 Fellow A’s pitcher Joe Coleman described him as “one of the finest persons I ever met.”6

Richard John “Dick” Fowler was born on March 30, 1921, in Toronto. He grew up in a large Irish-Canadian family with seven sisters. Dick’s parents, Richard J. and Mary Emma (née Gould), were married in the spring of 1905. They started a family in Mary’s hometown of Joggins Mines, Nova Scotia, a small coal-mining community on the shores of the Bay of Fundy.7 Richard worked there as a miner and carpenter before the family moved to Toronto during World War I. He earned a living in Toronto as a carpenter, laborer, and, later in life, a millhand.

The Fowler boy’s pitching career began at age 12 on the sandlots of Toronto’s Stanley Park neighborhood.8 He began to draw the attention of pro scouts as a lanky 16-year-old hurler. At the time, he was still a member of the St. Mary’s Saints juvenile team in the Western City League.9

The Toronto Maple Leafs, at the urging of International League President Frank Shaughnessy, had just launched an initiative to uncover homegrown talent. They put out a call across Canada for youngsters to attend a tryout camp at Maple Leaf Stadium in July 1937.10 Approximately 150 players, including some from as far away as Saskatchewan and Montreal, paid their own way to attend the five-day “baseball school,” which was led by instructors including Maple Leafs manager Dan Howley, scout Clyde Engle, and Shaughnessy.11 It was an opportunity that Fowler, who was then 6 feet tall and 150 pounds soaking wet, could not pass up.12 The right-hander immediately caught the attention of Howley on the first day of workouts, and he wowed onlookers with a dominant inning of relief two days later. An impressed Shaughnessy said Fowler reminded him of Dizzy Dean.13

Fowler pitched and played first base for the St. Mary’s juvenile team once again in 1938.14 He tossed a no-hitter in June before leading the Saints to the city championship.15 The Maple Leafs, keeping a close tab on their prized prospect, had him pitch batting practice for about a month that summer, and he was invited to work out with the team later in the season.16 That fall, they invited Fowler to attend spring training in Florida. “Gosh, I had never been more than 20 miles from Toronto,” he recalled in 1945. “I thought Avon Park, Florida, was on the other side of the world.”17

Fowler’s juvenile teammates wanted to be sure he had enough spending money to last through spring training, so they passed the hat to raise funds for their pitching ace. They presented him with just over $11 in cash and a suitcase before he left for Florida in March 1939.18 Fowler, who missed high-school classes to attend spring training, celebrated his 18th birthday in camp. Toronto coach Johnnie Heving said he was the “best-looking rookie hurler he’s seen in ten years.”19

Toronto assigned Fowler to the Cornwall (Ontario) Maple Leafs of the Class C Canadian-American League to start the 1939 season. After three appearances for Cornwall, it was clear the rookie was overmatched, and he was reassigned to the Batavia (New York) Clippers of the Class D PONY League. He settled in as the team’s workhorse, and by the end of June he was considered “Batavia’s ace flinger.”20 The fourth-place Clippers faced the Hamilton (Ontario) Red Wings in a best-of-five series in the first round of the Shaughnessy playoffs. Fowler earned the win in Game Two by pitching 5⅔ innings of relief in an exciting come-from-behind victory. He drove in the tying run himself with a triple.21 Fowler got the start in the deciding game of the series, but he couldn’t duplicate his earlier success and Batavia was eliminated.22 It was the only time in his 14-year professional career that his team qualified for the playoffs.

Fowler, still the youngest player in a Toronto uniform, returned to Avon Park for spring training in March 1940.23 In early April he was optioned to Wilmington (Delaware) of the Class B Interstate League, and he spent two weeks in their North Carolina training camp.24 Although he pitched well enough to earn a spot on the team, he suffered from homesickness and jumped ship, traveling to Newark to join the Maple Leafs on the road. Toronto manager Tony Lazzeri was unimpressed.25 After threatening to suspend Fowler, Lazzeri sent him back to Toronto until the team returned home.26

Fowler was assigned to Oneonta (New York) of the Canadian-American League in late April. The move turned out to be a pivotal moment in his life.27 The 19-year-old had a breakout year, posting a 16-10 record and a 3.57 ERA despite being on a losing team. The Maple Leafs called him up the end of Oneonta’s season.28 After he won his International League debut on September 4 against Buffalo, Yankees super-scout Paul Krichell asked Lazzeri to start Fowler against the Montreal Royals on the last weekend of the season.29 With Krichell in attendance, Fowler held Montreal scoreless for two innings before the game was canceled because of rain.30

The most significant event during Fowler’s stint in Oneonta took place early in the season when a young woman gave her autograph book to a girlfriend and asked her to get the tall Canadian pitcher to sign it. When Fowler saw the book, he noticed that it belonged to Joyce Howard, a woman he had seen around town and wanted to meet.31 He returned the book to Joyce himself, and the two began dating soon after. They were married on March 8, 1941, at St. John’s Garrison (Anglican) Church in Toronto.32

As the Fowlers were exchanging their vows, World War II continued to rage in Europe.33 That night the Luftwaffe carried out the worst London bombings in two months. As the year wore on, more and more Canadians were advocating for compulsory military enlistment.

Five days after getting married, Fowler was on a train to Florida for his third consecutive camp with the Maple Leafs.34 After filling out over the winter, he was now 6-feet-4 and 190 pounds. The “Stanley Park string bean,” as the Toronto press referred to him, made the team on his third attempt.35

In the second game of the season, just two weeks after his 20th birthday, Fowler came within two outs of throwing a no-hitter on the road against the Baltimore Orioles.36 The feat was especially impressive considering that Terrapin Park was an extreme hitters’ ballpark. Fowler became the staff ace on a terrible Toronto team, and he finished the season with a creditable 10-10 record and 3.30 ERA.

Connie Mack, manager of the Philadelphia Athletics since 1901, had an option to acquire any two Toronto players for $7,500 apiece. On August 28 he announced he would be purchasing Fowler’s contract.37 The youngster made his major-league debut on September 13, 1941, at Shibe Park, going the distance in a 3-1 victory over the White Sox. At the age of 20 years, 167 days, he became the youngest Canadian to pitch in the big leagues.38

On the final day of the regular season, Fowler started the first game of a doubleheader against the Red Sox. Although both teams had been eliminated from the pennant race, the twin bill had enormous implications. Ted Williams, who started the day with a .39955 batting average, singled and homered in his two plate appearances against Fowler. Williams feasted on Philadelphia pitching that afternoon, going 6-for-8 to finish the year at .406.

Near the end of spring training in 1942, Fowler was hit in the arm during batting practice by a line drive off the bat of Dick Siebert.39 He missed almost two weeks of action and spent the early part of the season in the Athletics bullpen. Fowler’s season turned around in a marathon start against the Browns on June 5. He limited St. Louis to six singles through the first 14 innings of a scoreless game; Mack kept sending him back out to the mound. Fowler gave up a run in the 16th and lost a heartbreaker, 1-0. As measured by Bill James’s Game Score, his effort was the best pitching performance by an Athletics starter since Eddie Plank’s 13-inning shutout on May 14, 1914.40

Fowler’s biggest thrill of the season came in the first game of a doubleheader on August 10 at Yankee Stadium against a powerful New York squad.41 He retired the first 16 batters in order and took a no-hitter into the seventh inning before giving up three singles and a run. Philadelphia hung on for a 4-1 victory, giving him his fifth career win.

When the curtain fell on the 1942 season, Fowler was not yet an established major leaguer. His career record stood at 7-13 with a 4.72 ERA. He returned to Toronto and took a job with Research Enterprises Limited, a government-owned business that built electronics and optical instruments during World War II.42

On August 19, 1942, the Dieppe raid in France had cost the lives of over 900 Canadians, with many more wounded and taken prisoner.43 Thousands of Canadian men received their military draft notices that fall, and it wasn’t long before Fowler received his too.44 He was inducted into the Canadian Army in January 1943, and he was stationed at the Basic Training Centre outside of Brantford, Ontario.45 That spring, Joyce gave birth to the couple’s first child, Thomas.46

Since Canadian military men could play sports in civilian leagues, Fowler pitched for the Number 2 District Depot Invaders in the semipro Toronto Congress Services League in the summer of 1943.47 Another Athletics hurler from Ontario, Phil Marchildon, was in the Royal Canadian Air Force, and he played for the Trenton Air Force squad in the same league.48 The two Canuck pitchers faced each other in a June 4 benefit game at Maple Leaf Stadium, with proceeds going to the British War Victims’ Fund.49 Not surprisingly, the game was a pitchers’ duel. Marchildon had a no-hitter going until Fowler opened the sixth inning with a double; the game was called after 11 innings with the score tied, 2-2. Marchildon struck out 20, while Fowler fanned 10.

In 1944 Fowler pitched for the Hamilton Co-ops of the Niagara Senior Baseball League, a semipro outfit that allowed American imports.50 “It was only about Class C ball and my job didn’t depend on winning,” he recalled. “I practiced my change of pace and curve ball until I was figuratively blue in the face and the catchers were exhausted.”51

That fall, Fowler was in Nova Scotia preparing to be deployed to Europe.52 However, he remained in Canada on compassionate grounds when it was learned that his son, Tommy, who was battling cancer, was expected to live for only five more months.53

Fowler was stationed in Hamilton in 1945 and worked as a postal clerk.54 He was pitching for the Hamilton Thurstons of the Victory Baseball League when his permission to play outside ball was revoked.55 He kept playing anyway. The first time he was caught he was warned. “The second time the officer in charge told me I would be brought up for court-martial,” he said. “And that, of course, stopped me.”56

On August 15, 1945, the day after the announcement of Japan’s surrender, Fowler was discharged from the army.57 After visiting with Joyce and Tommy in Oneonta, he rejoined the Athletics before the end of August.58 An out-of-shape Fowler struggled in his first three appearances, giving up 20 hits and five walks in 11⅔ innings of ineffective relief.

Dick Fowler (CANADIAN BASEBALL HALL OF FAME)Mack named Fowler his starter for the second game of a doubleheader against the Browns on September 9. In his first big-league start in almost three years, he defeated the Browns 1-0 and tossed the first major-league no-hitter by a Canadian.59 Since he was unfamiliar with the St. Louis hitters, he relied heavily on his veteran catcher, Rosar. He didn’t shake his batterymate off once.60 “I figured he knew more about it than I did,” Fowler said.61 In addition to his usual curve, changeup and fastball, he mixed in a forkball-slider combination pitch. The Browns hit only five balls out of the infield. “I wouldn’t have got a good foul if I had been batting against him,” admitted Rosar.62 The no-hitter was Fowler’s sole victory of the season. As of 2020, no other pitcher in baseball history had duplicated that feat.

The Fowlers settled permanently in Oneonta in December 1945, with Dick taking an offseason job with the Delaware and Hudson Railway Company.63 Thanks to his no-hitter, he appeared on the cover of the 1946 Street & Smith’s Baseball Yearbook. It was one of only three times that a hurler was the sole player pictured on the yearbook’s national cover.64

Fowler’s first start of the 1946 season was in the Red Sox’ home opener. He had a no-hitter going until Rudy York singled with two outs in the sixth inning. Despite going the distance and giving up only two hits, Fowler lost the game 2-1 on a wind-aided home run by Johnny Pesky.65 The frustrating loss was a sign of things to come. Fowler finished the season with a solid 3.28 ERA, but the hapless A’s averaged only 3.15 runs per game in his 28 starts, and he finished with an undeserving 9-16 record. Philadelphia lost 105 games en route to its 13th consecutive losing season. Fowler, along with teammates Marchildon and Lou Knerr, posted a league-leading 16 losses. As of 2020, it was the only time in major-league history that three pitchers on the same team led the league in losses.

Fowler had a career year in 1947, posting a stellar 2.81 ERA, which helped the A’s record their first winning season since 1933.66 Although he was the most effective pitcher on the Philadelphia staff, he compiled a modest 12-11 record thanks to six one-run losses.

On May 30, he tossed a five-hit, complete-game shutout against the vaunted Yankees in the first game of a doubleheader. Coleman pitched a shutout in the second game, marking the first time the Yankees had been blanked twice in the same day since Chief Bender and Bob Shawkey turned the trick on July 3, 1914. At the end of the season, Yankees coach Chuck Dressen raved about Philadelphia’s pitching. “Look at the staff of competent pitchers Connie Mack has! Fowler, Marchildon, [Bill] McCahan and Coleman,” he gushed. “That’s the best pitching staff in baseball.”67

Eager to start the 1948 season, Fowler wrapped up his offseason job selling menswear at Bresee’s Department Store; he was in West Palm Beach well before spring training began.68 On the first day of camp, he hurt his shoulder throwing batting practice. The injury plagued him for the remainder of his career.69 Fowler saw limited action that spring, and he was sent back to Philadelphia on April 11 to be examined by the team doctor.70 He was diagnosed with bursitis in his shoulder. He also had two teeth removed in case that was contributing to his discomfort.71 For the remainder of the season, he received injections for the pain, yet he was unable to raise his right arm over his head.72 His shoulder soreness limited the number of fastballs he could throw each game, forcing him to rely more on his changeup.73

Even though he didn’t make his first start until May 6, Fowler sported an 8-1 record at the All-Star break. He hit the only home run of his big-league career in an August 8 start against the Browns. The pain flared up significantly that same game, so he returned to Philadelphia for more treatment. His shoulder was subjected to X-rays for up to 2½ minutes at a time.74 The treatment seemed to help in the short term, and boosted by improved run support, he finished the season at 15-8.

Fowler felt good enough in the spring of 1949 to air out his fastball. He dominated the opposition, giving up only three runs in 34 spring-training innings.75 Unfortunately, as the team was travelling north to start the season, he re-injured his shoulder pitching in Savannah, Georgia.76 Fowler gutted it out and pitched through the pain.

After being Philadelphia’s most effective pitcher for two consecutive years, Mack rewarded him with the Opening Day assignment in Washington. As President Harry Truman looked on, Fowler battled valiantly before giving up a pair of runs in the bottom of the ninth for a tough 3-2 walk-off loss.77 Two weeks later, he took the Oath of Allegiance to become a citizen of the United States.78

Fowler failed to complete any of his starts until June 4 in Cleveland when he introduced a new pitch — the knuckleball.79 The result was a complete-game victory that turned his season around. “Decided I’d better come up with something new or be finished,” Fowler explained. “I haven’t any fast one. My arm has been sore.”80 In his next start, he pitched a 12-inning shutout against the White Sox and set a major-league record for a pitcher by recording seven putouts.81 Fowler’s most significant outing of ’49 came on September 30 at Yankee Stadium. He tossed a four-hitter to knock the Bronx Bombers out of first place with two games left on the schedule.82

To most Philadelphia fans, Fowler looked better than ever. He had pitched over 200 innings for four consecutive years and posted back-to-back 15-win seasons. However, 1950 was the beginning of the end for the 29-year-old.

In the first inning of an April 1 start in Miami, he threw two wild pitches to Duke Snider, and it was obvious that he was in distress.83 Even though tears of pain were streaming down his face, he didn’t want to come out of the game. He returned to Philadelphia for more treatment on his shoulder.

Fowler was back in action on April 30, only to be shelled in one of the biggest blowouts in Red Sox history.84 He continued to pitch through the pain. On July 26, he tossed a complete game in Cleveland. That night, the pain was so bad he couldn’t sleep.85 He was still in agony on the bench the next day. The 87-year-old Mack, in his 50th and final season managing the Athletics, sent him home for the season.86

In the winter of 1951, Fowler had all his lower teeth removed in the hopes it would help his shoulder.87 He went south for spring training with Joyce, Tommy, and a new addition to the family, daughter Candice.88 (Tommy had defied doctors’ predictions that he would pass away before age three; he lived into his early 40s.)

New Philadelphia manager Jimmy Dykes was cautious with Fowler’s workload in 1951.89 It appeared to be too little, too late. The resilient hurler struggled through most of the season, tossing 125 innings and finishing with a 5-11 record.

Although Fowler felt a few twinges in his shoulder during the early part of spring training in 1952, he didn’t report any significant pain. After consulting with doctors, he announced on March 19 that he would rest his shoulder for the remainder of camp and undergo more X-ray treatments.90 He was also told by medical staff that his shoulder issues may have been caused by inflamed tendons instead of bursitis. On April 3, he began a series of short outings that went reasonably well.91

Dykes used Fowler sporadically throughout the season. Pitching mainly in relief, he posted a bloated 6.44 ERA. His only win of the season came in a July 30 start at Briggs Stadium. He “befogged” the Tigers with his knuckleball, scattering 12 hits in a 4-3 victory.92 It was the last win of his major-league career.93 On October 17, the Athletics released him.

Fowler returned to his offseason job at Bresee’s Department Store.94 With medical bills to pay for his son’s cancer treatments, he announced a few days after his release that he would try to catch on with another major-league team or a Triple-A squad if necessary.95 In January 1953, Fowler signed with the Charleston (West Virginia) Senators of the American Association. “I believe I can win in the American Association or I wouldn’t make the attempt,” he remarked.96

Yet again, Fowler found himself on a woeful team. The Senators, featuring the worst offense in the league, finished dead last. He was surprisingly durable during the 1953 season, averaging almost 6⅔ innings in his 29 starts and posting a respectable 3.68 ERA.

Fowler returned to the hapless Senators for a trying 1954 season. He had to leave the team twice because of an illness in the family — once in April and again in August.97 To make matters worse, the pain in his shoulder returned. “I talked to him on the mound on several occasions when he had tears in his eyes from the pain,” recalled teammate Gordon Goldsberry.98 He also received abysmal run support, including no runs in each of his four starts against Louisville. The Sporting News began to refer to him as “luckless” or “hard-luck” Dick Fowler.99 He finished the season with a 4-17 record. In the winter of 1955, he officially retired from professional baseball.100

Dick continued to work at Bresee’s Department Store, and later, he spent nine years as the night desk man at the Oneonta Community Hotel.101

He retained his love for the game once his baseball career ended. Dick enjoyed reconnecting with old teammates at Maple Leafs reunions and participating in Old-Timers’ Games at major-league parks. He also managed Little League teams in Oneonta and was a member of the Old Time Ballplayers Association of Wisconsin.102

Aside from his 1945 no-hitter, Dick was most proud of his 88 hits in the big leagues, especially the home run he hit in 1948. Whenever Ted Williams visited Oneonta, he would playfully tease Fowler that both the no-hitter and home run came against the lowly St. Louis Browns. “He loved that home run,” Joyce remembered.103

Dick developed health problems of his own later in life, including epileptic seizures. His son Thomas continued to fight cancer. “It was an awful time for us, financially and otherwise,” Joyce recalled.104 After battling kidney and liver disease for years, Dick was hospitalized in April 1972.105 He died at Fox Memorial Hospital in Oneonta on May 22, 1972, at the age of 51.

Dick Fowler was inducted posthumously into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 1985.

 

Photo credit

Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame, St. Marys, Ontario. Used by permission.

 

Acknowledgements

Thanks to Rob Rossi for his assistance researching Dick Fowler’s baseball career in southern Ontario. Thanks also to Cassidy Lent of the Giamatti Research Center in Cooperstown for providing a copy of Dick Fowler’s Hall of Fame file.

This biography was reviewed by Rory Costello and Len Levin and fact-checked by Bill Lamb.

 

Sources

In addition to the sources cited in the Notes, the author consulted Baseball-Reference.com, Retrosheet.org, Ancestry.com, NovaScotiaGenealogy.com, and the Digital Toronto City Directories.

 

Notes

1 The three American League pitchers who threw more complete games than Fowler between 1946 and 1949 were Hal Newhouser (94), Bob Feller (89), and Eddie Lopat (69).

2 In his biography of Ewell Blackwell, Warren Corbett wrote, “In the macho world of 1940s baseball, a real man pitched through pain.” Warren Corbett, “Ewell Blackwell,” SABR BioProject, sabr.org/bioproj/person/ewell-blackwell/, accessed December 7, 2020.

3 Art Morrow, “Hats Off”, 1949, clipping in Fowler’s file at the Baseball Hall of Fame.

4 Phil Marchildon with Brian Kendall, Ace: Phil Marchildon, Canada’s Pitching Sensation and Wartime Hero, (Toronto, Ontario: Penguin Books Canada Ltd., 1993), 162; Jim Shearon, Canada’s Baseball Legends, (Kanata, Ontario: Malin Head Press, 1994), 81.

5 Fowler had the misfortune of pitching his entire career with a Philadelphia franchise that was in rapid decline. He also played in an era where pitchers were measured largely by their wins and losses, and his career 66-79 record did him no justice. According to former A’s teammate Carl Scheib, “If you put a pennant contender behind Dick Fowler, he’d be a 20-game winner in a breeze.”
“Dick Fowler, Big Leaguer, Succumbs at Fox Hospital,” Oneonta Star, May 23, 1972: 11.

6 Shearon, Canada’s Baseball Legends, 81.

7 Dick’s father was born in St. John’s, Newfoundland when Newfoundland was still a British Colony. It did not join Canada until 1949. The word “Mines” was dropped from Joggins Mines’ name in 1937. There are no longer any operational coal mines in the area. The nearby Joggins Fossil Cliffs were listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008, and as of 2020 served as a tourist attraction.

8 Steve Shields, “Sport Spotlight,” Oneonta Star, July 30, 1948: 26.

9 “Following Through,” Globe and Mail (Toronto), July 23, 1937: 14.

10 Andy Lytle, “Howley Scholastic Opens with Wealth of Students,” Toronto Daily Star, July 17, 1937: 10.

11 When Fowler filled out the American Baseball Bureau’s questionnaire in 1946, he listed Dan Howley and Clyde Engle in response to the question “To whom do you owe the most in your baseball career?” Sadly, neither man lived long enough to see Fowler toss his no-hitter for the Philadelphia Athletics in 1945.

12 Maple Leaf Stadium was built when Fowler was five years old. It was located about one mile from his home at 11A Stafford Street.

13 Gordon Walker, “Dick Fowler Impresses Howley and Shaughnessy at Maple Leafs’ School,” Globe and Mail (Toronto), July 22, 1937: 16.

14 J.G.T. Spink, “Looping the Loops,” The Sporting News, September 20, 1945: 2.

15 “Young ‘Ike’ Fowler Pitches No-Hitter for St. Mary’s Club,” Toronto Daily Star, June 20, 1938, 10; “St. Mary’s Juveniles Lead St. Catharines,” Toronto Daily Star, September 9, 1938: 10.

16 Letter from Dick Fowler to Henry Edwards, November 4, 1941, collection.baseballhall.org/PASTIME/letter-dick-fowler-henry-edwards-1941-november-04-1, accessed November 12, 2020; Gord Walker, “Leafs Boast Encouraging Rookies,” Globe and Mail (Toronto), April 19, 1939: 22.

17 Spink, “Looping the Loops.”

18 Dink Carroll, “Playing the Field,” Montreal Gazette, March 9, 1945: 16; Marchildon, Ace: Phil Marchildon, Canada’s Pitching Sensation and Wartime Hero, 22.

19 Walker, “Leafs Boast Encouraging Rookies.”

20 “Rain Halts Series Opener between Bees and Clippers,” Bradford (Pennsylvania) Evening Star and Daily Record, June 30, 1939: 8.

21 “Pony Playoff,” The Sporting News, September 14, 1939: 11.

22 “Redwings to Face Olean in Finals,” Bradford (Pennsylvania) Evening Star and Daily Record, September 15, 1939: 9.

23 Gord Walker, “Yannigans Win at Leaf Camp,” Globe and Mail (Toronto), March 22, 1940: 19.

24 Gord Walker, “Leafs Edge Louisville,” Globe and Mail (Toronto), April 3, 1940: 15; “Wright, Son of Old South, Likely to Stick with Rocks,” Wilmington (Delaware) Morning News, April 20, 1940: 16.

25 Charles Good, “Sport Parade,” Toronto Daily Star, April 20, 1940: 13.

26 Spink, “Looping the Loops.”

27 Spink, “Looping the Loops.”

28 Charlie Good, “Marchildon Sold to Mack for an Unstated Amount,” Toronto Daily Star, August 29, 1940: 14.

29 Gord Walker, “Hammond, Fowler vs. Royals; Yankee Scout Makes Request,” Globe and Mail (Toronto), September 10, 1940: 14. Lazzeri was one of the Yankee greats Krichell had scouted and signed years earlier.

30 “Leafs Lose Last Three to Sukeforth’s Royals,” Globe and Mail (Toronto), September 16, 1940: 16.

31 Spink, “Looping the Loops.”

32 Shearon, Canada’s Baseball Legends, 84.

33 Canada had declared war on Germany on September 10, 1939.

34 “Leafs Party Leaves for Avon Park Camp,” Globe and Mail (Toronto), March 13, 1941: 18.

35 Charlie Good, “Young Dick Fowler Signs Contract with Home Club,” Toronto Daily Star, February 26, 1941: 15.

36 Joe Perlove, “Young Dick Fowler Was Tall, Tan and Terrific,” Toronto Daily Star, April 19, 1941: 14.

37 Shields, “Sport Spotlight.” Canadian Press, “Toronto Pitcher Goes Up at End of Season,” Montreal Gazette, August 29, 1941: 21. In 1940, Connie Mack had purchased the contract of Phil Marchildon, another Canadian pitcher on the Maple Leafs.

38 As of the end of the 2020 season, Fowler was still the youngest Canadian pitcher to ever appear in the major leagues. Mike Soroka, at age 20 years, 270 days, became the second-youngest Canadian pitcher in the big leagues when he made his debut with the Atlanta Braves on May 1, 2018.

39 Stan Baumgartner, “Johnson Star as A’s Win,” Philadelphia Inquirer, April 11, 1942: 21.

40 As of the end of the 2020 season, Eddie Plank was still the last Athletics pitcher to match (or exceed) Fowler’s Game Score of 101 on June 5, 1942. The highest Game Score by an Athletics pitcher between June 6, 1942 and the end of the 2020 season was the 100 recorded by Vida Blue in his 11 shutout innings on July 9, 1971. Oakland eventually won that game 1-0 in 20 innings.

41 Gord Walker, “Dick Fowler Joins Army,” Globe and Mail (Toronto), January 16, 1943: 15.

42 Walker, “Dick Fowler Joins Army.”

43 The raid on Dieppe, France was the first significant military engagement for Canadian soldiers in Europe in World War II.

44 Joe Tumelty, “Canadian Army Calls Fowler, A’s Twirler,” Philadelphia Inquirer, January 16, 1943: 19.

45 “Waterloo Ball Opener Set Back,” Globe and Mail (Toronto), May 13, 1943: 20.

46 Hank Littlehales, “Hurler Elated but Modest of No-Hitter,” Philadelphia Inquirer, September 10, 1945: 16.

47 Charles Edwards, “Toronto Baseball League Scrambles for Pro Talent,” Edmonton Journal, May 29, 1943: 6.

48 Edwards, “Toronto Baseball League Scrambles for Pro Talent.”

49 “Marchildon Whiffs 20,” Globe and Mail (Toronto), June 5, 1943: 16.

50 Canadian Press, “O.B.A. Roundup,” Windsor (Ontario) Star, August 14, 1944: 18; “London Will Quit,” Windsor (Ontario) Star, August 9, 1944: 19.

51 Spink, “Looping the Loops.”

52 Shearon, Canada’s Baseball Legends, 85.

53 Thomas Fowler proved doctors wrong. He graduated from high school and college, got married, and had a family of his own. He lived into his early 40s.

54 Red Smith, “Red Smith,” Courier-Post (Camden, NJ), May 17, 1945: 23.

55 “Fowler Big Noise in Hamilton Clash,” Toronto Daily Star, June 8, 1945: 14.

56 Spink, “Looping the Loops.”

57 Gary Bedingfield, “Dick Fowler,” Baseball in Wartime, baseballinwartime.com/player_biographies/fowler_dick.htm, accessed November 16, 2020.

58 Littlehales, “Hurler Elated but Modest of No-Hitter.”

59 It was the first no-hitter in the American League since Bob Feller threw one on Opening Day in 1940. Fowler’s no-no was the fourth in franchise history and the first since Bullet Joe Bush turned the trick against the Cleveland Indians on August 26, 1916. After Fowler’s masterpiece, it was almost 73 years before another Canuck threw a no-hitter in the big leagues. Canadian pitchers threw eight one-hitters in the interim, with three of those near-misses from Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins. Finally, on May 8, 2018, James Paxton of the Seattle Mariners tossed a no-hitter against the Blue Jays — on Canadian soil, no less.

60 Don Donaghey, “Dick Fowler Hurls No-Hitter for A’s Against Browns,” Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, September 10, 1945.

61 Associated Press, “Dick Fowler Pitches No-Hit Game for A’s,” Montreal Gazette, September 10, 1945: 16.

62 Stan Baumgartner, “A’s Fowler Defeats Browns on 1-0 No-Hitter,” Philadelphia Inquirer, September 10, 1945: 16.

63 Ancestry.com, Border Crossings from Canada to U.S., December 12, 1945; Ancestry.com, U.S. Draft Registration Card, December 28, 1945.

64 The other two pitchers to have the cover of Street & Smith’s Baseball Yearbook to themselves were Bob Feller (1941) and Howie Pollett (1942). The publication began using regional covers in 1963.

65 Stan Baumgartner, “Boston Beats A’s on Two Hits, 2-1,” Philadelphia Inquirer, April 21, 1946: 31. Pesky hit only six home runs at Fenway Park in 2,466 career plate appearances.

66 Fowler’s 2.81 ERA ranked third in the American League in 1947. His Adjusted ERA (ERA+) of 136 was second best in the league.

67 “Dressen Claims Pitching Produced Homers in N.L.,” The Sporting News, October 8, 1947: 27.

68 Art Morrow, “Bob Savage Signs with A’s, ‘Going after 32 Victories,” Philadelphia Inquirer, February 27, 1948: 32; Jim Kevlin, “Hometown History,” AllOstego.com, August 24, 2012, allotsego.com/2014/08/page/5/, accessed November 17, 2020.

69 Shields, “Sport Spotlight.”

70 Art Morrow, “A’s Homers Beat Barons; Hurling Worries Mack,” Philadelphia Inquirer, April 12, 1948: 22.

71 Anti-inflammatory drugs were still years away. In those days, it was relatively common for a pitcher to have teeth pulled when he had a sore joint. The theory was that joint pain was caused by an infection, and the most likely source of that infection was the pitcher’s teeth. In 1955, Karl Spooner of the Brooklyn Dodgers had all his teeth removed to treat a serious shoulder injury.  Mark Langill, “Orel surgery: Dr. Frank Jobe’s other groundbreaking operation, 25 years ago,” Dodger Insider, April 27, 2015, dodgers.mlblogs.com/orel-surgery-dr-frank-jobes-other-groundbreaking-operation-25-years-ago-e77fd8b8f12a, accessed November 17, 2020; “Athletics Recall Harris, Turned Back to Lincoln,” The Sporting News, April 21, 1948: 6.

72 Art Morrow, “Fowler’s Win Mark Swells with Bursitis,” The Sporting News, September 8, 1948: 4.

73 Associated Press, “Injuries Do Help Sometimes Says A’s Dick Fowler,” Decatur (Alabama) Daily, April 11, 1949: 7.

74 One of the x-ray treatments lasted for one minute and 35 seconds; the other lasted for two minutes and 25 seconds. Morrow, “Fowler’s Win Mark Swells with Bursitis.”  Ionizing radiation was used in the United States to treat shoulder tendonitis/bursitis in humans between 1936 and 1961. It was also used by veterinarians between 1954 and 1974.  Edward J. Calabrese, et al, “Use of X-rays to Treat Shoulder Tendonitis/Bursitis: A Historical Assessment,” PubMed.gov, June 24, 2014, pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24954447/, accessed November 17, 2020.

75 Associated Press, “Injuries Do Help Sometimes Says A’s Dick Fowler”; Morrow, “Hats Off.”

76 Associated Press, “Fowler’s Nothing Pitch Baffles Indian Batsmen,” Mansfield (Ohio) News-Journal, June 5, 1949: 18.

77 Art Morrow, “Nats Rally in 9th, Defeat A’s, 3-2,” Philadelphia Inquirer, April 19, 1949: 29.

78 Associated Press, “Dick Fowler Takes Out Final U.S. Papers,” May 3, 1949, unsourced clipping in Fowler’s file at the Baseball Hall of Fame.

79 Charles Heaton, “Sore-Armed Fowler Doesn’t Need Speed,” (Cleveland) Plain Dealer, June 5, 1949, clipping in Fowler’s file at the Baseball Hall of Fame.

80 Associated Press, “Fowler’s Nothing Pitch Baffles Indian Batsmen.”

81 As of the end of the 2020 season, Fowler still held the major-league record for putouts by a pitcher in an extra-inning game with seven. Greg Maddux recorded seven putouts in a nine-inning game on April 29, 1990.

82 The Yankees rallied to beat the Red Sox the next two days to claim the American League pennant. New York then beat the Brooklyn Dodgers in five games to claim the 1949 World Series.

83 Art Morrow, “Arm Troubles Fowler; Dick to Return Home,” Philadelphia Inquirer, April 2, 1950: 61.

84 Fowler gave up seven earned runs in two innings. Boston won the game 19-0.

85 Art Morrow, “A’s Staggering Staff Suffers New Blow,” The Sporting News, August 9, 1950: 18.

86 Fowler spent the rest of the 1950 season in Oneonta. The Athletics finished 46 games out of first place with a 52-102 record, and Connie Mack stepped down as manager on October 18. Many believed Mack should have done so years earlier.

87 Art Morrow, “A’s Face Nats Tuesday Night; Shantz to Pitch,” Philadelphia Inquirer, April 15, 1951: 62; Art Morrow, “A’s Optimistic as Fowler Begins Arm Treatment,” Philadelphia Inquirer, March 20, 1952: 27.

88 “A’s Pact Signed by Fowler,” Philadelphia Inquirer, February 7, 1951: 41.

89 Art Morrow, “A’s Defeat Greensboro,” Philadelphia Inquirer, April 8, 1951: 66.

90 Morrow, “A’s Optimistic as Fowler Begins Arm Treatment.”

91 “Bunts and Boots,” The Sporting News, April 16, 1952: 34.

92 Art Morrow, “Fowler, Clark Star at Detroit,” Philadelphia Inquirer, July 31, 1952: 26.

93 Fowler ended his career with a 66-79 record, 4.11 ERA, 11 shutouts, and 75 complete games in 170 starts.

94 Kevlin, “Hometown History.”

95 Associated Press, “Dick Fowler Released by A’s,” Philadelphia Inquirer, October 23, 1952: 33; Shearon, Canada’s Baseball Legends, 88.

96 “Fowler Signs with Charleston,” The Sporting News, January 28, 1953: 25.

97 “Doherty Loop Tidbits,” The Sporting News, April 21, 1954: 29; “American Association,” The Sporting News, August 18, 1954, 32.

98 Shearon, Canada’s Baseball Legends, 89.

99 Tommy Fitzgerald, “Colonels Tip Fowler Again and Split with Charleston,” Courier-Journal (Louisville, Kentucky), August 31, 1954: 19.

100 American Association, The Sporting News, March 30, 1955: 29.

101 “Dick Fowler, Big Leaguer, Succumbs at Fox Hospital;” Shearon, Canada’s Baseball Legends, 89.

102 “Dick Fowler, Big Leaguer, Succumbs at Fox Hospital;”

103 Shearon, Canada’s Baseball Legends, 89.

104 Shearon, Canada’s Baseball Legends, 89.

105 “Dick Fowler, Big Leaguer, Succumbs at Fox Hospital;” Shearon, Canada’s Baseball Legends, 89.

Full Name

Richard John Fowler

Born

March 30, 1921 at Toronto, ON (CAN)

Died

May 22, 1972 at Oneonta, NY (USA)

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