Dotson: The improbable career of Dazzy Vance

From SABR member Chad Dotson at The Hardball Times on January 24, 2014:

Fastballs, poker, and laundry. All the ingredients for a Hall of Fame career, right?

By the time he reached thirty years of age, Charles Arthur Vance had pitched in 11 games for two different big league teams, and was winless in four decisions, with an ERA of 4.91. At the time, he was still toiling in the minors, for the New Orleans Pelicans (not these Pelicans, whose mascot is providing nightmares to children all over America), but was three years removed from his last cup of coffee in the American League. He was a sore-armed pitcher who had shown some promise, but all the evidence suggested that Dazzy Vance‘s window of opportunity had closed forever.

That’s where the story gets good, as they say.

Let’s back up for a minute. Born in Iowa, raised in Nebraska, Vance first broke into professional baseball in 1912, not long after his 21st birthday. He found immediate success, and had advanced to Class A St. Joseph within two years, winning 26 games in 1914. In 1915, the Pittsburgh Pirates purchased Vance’s contract. He started one game, surrendering 3 runs in 2.2 innings in his major league debut, walking five and, ominously, failing to strike out a batter. Whereupon Vance was promptly sold to the Yankees. In eight games for New York, Vance was 0-3 with a 3.54 ERA, and the arm problems had begun.

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Originally published: January 27, 2014. Last Updated: January 27, 2014.