Schechter: Rube Bressler, a rare talent

From SABR member Gabriel Schechter at The National Pastime Museum on September 21, 2015:

The list of successful Major Leaguers who batted right-handed and threw left-handed is a short one. Taken collectively, they have never won a batting title or led a league in home runs. Only one—Rickey Henderson—is in the Hall of Fame. Only two with significant playing time managed a career average over .300. The leader in that regard is Jimmy Ryan, star of the 1890s Chicago Colts (Cubs), whose strong Hall of Fame credentials include a .308 average, 2,513 hits, and 1,643 runs scored.

Most of the players who have reversed the common righty-thrower/lefty-hitter mold have been pitchers, of course, including Mets southpaw Steven Matz, who recently set a record by driving in four runs in his Major League debut. The other lifetime .300 hitter—Rube Bressler—was also a pitcher, at least early in his career, until his talented left arm went dead and he charged fearlessly into Plan B.

As a 17-year-old pitching for a railroad shop team in Pennsylvania, Raymond Bressler defeated a traveling team managed by Earle Mack. Two years later, he was pitching for Earle’s father, Connie, on the defending-champion Philadelphia Athletics. On April 24, 1914, the 19-year-old won his Major League debut with 6 2/3 innings of two-hit relief against the Yankees. By the time he made his first start on July 21, he had a 2–1 record and a 1.48 ERA in 14 appearances.

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Originally published: September 21, 2015. Last Updated: September 21, 2015.