Cozzens: A no-no for Bobo Holloman

From Peter Cozzens at The National Pastime Museum on February 1, 2017:

When 29-year-old pitcher Alva Lee “Bobo” Holloman Jr. showed up at the St. Louis Browns’ spring training camp in March 1953 for his first trial with a Major League club, he gave every indication of being an instant washout. The meaty, raven-haired, 6-foot, 2-inch Georgian with a Southern drawl carried an extra 20 pounds, much of it in his belly. He also had what one sportswriter called “an ache in his arm and a chip on his shoulder.”

It’s not that Holloman had pitched poorly, in the minors at least. He had a good fastball, but wildness had held him back. It all came together for him in 1952, when he won more games than any other pitcher in professional baseball, picking up 16 victories with Syracuse in the International League, despite an appendectomy that sidelined him for a month, and 20 more wins in the Puerto Rico winter league. His showing in Syracuse prompted Browns owner Bill Veeck to purchase his contract for $10,000, with an obligation to pay Syracuse another $25,000 should Holloman make it through the entire 1953 season with St. Louis.

Needless to say, after his Herculean performance in Puerto Rico, Holloman was exhausted, and Browns Manager Marty Marion permitted him to report to spring training late. He had expected Holloman to rest, not to show up a “horrible fat mess. Marion put him through a rigorous routine of running, calisthenics, and six-hour sessions in Turkish baths. Holloman shed the pounds, but his showings on the mound were mediocre and he opened the regular season as an underutilized middle reliever.

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Originally published: February 1, 2017. Last Updated: February 1, 2017.