Resourceful Rowe: Phillies’ Schoolboy Bats With One Arm

This article was written by L. Robert Davids

This article was published in 1983 Baseball Research Journal

Pete Gray, the one-armed outfielder with the St. Louis Browns in 1945, apparently wasn’t the only player since World War II to bat with one arm. Research in the Philadelphia newspapers uncovers the fact that Schoolboy Rowe of the Phillies batted with one arm early in the 1948 season. No, it wasn’t that he told the opposing pitcher that “he could hit him with one hand tied behind his back.” Pitching against the Cubs in early May, Rowe’s left thumb was broken by a drive off the bat of Peanuts Lowrey. It was placed in a special cast and after 2-3 weeks of recuperation, he pitched in relief against the Pirates on May 25. When he came up to bat the next inning, he swung only with his right arm. While he could use the cast to bat down ground balls on the mound, he could not grip a bat with his left hand. The fans laughed when he took his first swing, but became believers when he rapped the second pitch over Stan Rojek’s head at short for a clean single.

Rowe’s next trip to the plate came on June 5 when he pitched against the Cubs. Batting against Cliff Chambers, he used his strong right arm to drive a line single past Ed Waitkus on his first try and hit safely to left on his second. He laid down a bunt on his third trip and on his fourth at bat he hit a low line drive to center on which Hal Jeffcoat made a shoestring catch. He also had three assists and one putout in a complete game win over the Cubs. Although no longer a “schoolboy” at age 38, Rowe was a big, strong, all-purpose player with a .263 career batting average and 18 home runs.