Goldman: Four-finger Ernie Nevel, a baseball Van Gogh

From SABR member Steven Goldman at The Hardball Times on February 9, 2018:

This more innocent Van Gogh who gave up part of his body for baseball was Ernie Nevel, a pitcher who was a major leaguer for the New York Yankees in 1950 and 1951 and, significantly, a minor leaguer for a lot longer. When you’ve spent five consecutive summers in places ranging from Augusta, Georgia to Quincy, Illinois to Beaumont, Texas, no doubt you’ll do what you must to get up and get out. A ring is a ring, even if you lack a finger to wear it on.

Nevel’s professional career began when he signed with the Yankees organization in 1946. At 26, he was old for a tyro ballplayer; it’s possible the start of his career was delayed by service in World War II, although contemporary reports don’t mention this, and a search of government archives doesn’t reveal a military record. It’s possible Nevel had just been making his desultory way across Midwestern sandlots and semi-pro teams.

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Originally published: February 9, 2018. Last Updated: February 9, 2018.