Schechter: Jack Bentley’s forgotten, fantastic five-year fling

From SABR member Gabriel Schechter at The National Pastime Museum on June 18, 2015:

I’ve become greatly fascinated by ballplayers who excelled at both pitching and hitting. The ultimate purveyor was Babe Ruth, but many well-known hitters spent considerable time as pitchers early in their careers. George Sisler and Lefty O’Doul were prime examples from Ruth’s time, but even a generation later, Stan Musial began his professional career as a pitcher.

It’s easier to find minor league stars—Buzz Arlett heads the pack—who accomplished a lot early on as pitchers, blew out their arms, and forged standout careers as hitters. Nowhere, however, have I found a player who intertwined batting and pitching excellence over a five-year period the way that John Needles “Jack” Bentley did.


Jack Bentley is completely forgotten today, but consider this: In 1920, playing for the Baltimore Orioles, he led the International League in runs batted in and earned run average. He was unstoppable at the plate and unhittable on the mound. Babe Ruth led the American League in both of these departments—three years apart. Bentley did it by driving in 161 runs in 145 games and logging a 2.11 ERA in 167 innings of pitching. And that was just the first season of his remarkable five-year run.

It’s time to learn about Jack Bentley.

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Originally published: June 18, 2015. Last Updated: June 18, 2015.