Wendel: Smoky Joe Wood vs. the Big Train

From SABR member Tim Wendel at The National Pastime Museum on January 18, 2016:

Long before Ali-Frazier, Bird-Magic, or Koufax-Marichal, there was Smoky Joe Wood versus The Big Train. On September 6, 1912, Wood went against Walter Johnson in arguably the first game for the ages at the new Fenway Park.

In this tale of the tape, the two pitchers couldn’t have been more different in stature, delivery, and, eventually, legacy. Johnson stood 6 feet, 1 inch and 200 pounds, while Wood was 5 feet, 11 inches and maybe 180. Johnson easily threw the ball to the plate. His sidearm delivery belied how fast the ball arrived at the plate, exploding upon the hitter. A hard-charging locomotive was the fastest mode of transportation a century ago—hence Johnson’s legendary nickname, The Big Train.

In comparison, Wood had a pitching motion that bordered upon the violent as he put everything into almost every pitch he threw. There was nothing easy or deceptive about his approach. “I threw so hard I thought my arm would fly right off my body,” he later conceded.

Read the full article here: http://www.thenationalpastimemuseum.com/article/smoky-joe-wood-vs-big-train

Originally published: January 25, 2016. Last Updated: January 25, 2016.