Womack: Pat Scantlebury, the ancient rookie

From SABR member Graham Womack at The National Pastime Museum on March 21, 2017:

In a more just world, Pat Scantlebury would have been in the Majors a long time before he finally debuted for the Cincinnati Reds on April 19, 1956, at the age of 38 years, 160 days.

The 10th oldest Major League Baseball rookie at the time of debut since 1900, according to Baseball-reference.com, Scantlebury had pitched in the Negro Leagues and minors since 1944. Prior to that, he pitched in his native Panama, one of two players in MLB history along with Rod Carew to come from the Canal Zone.

While not an imposing power pitcher, Scantlebury twice won 20 games in the minors and was MVP of two bush league circuits before finally joining the Cincinnati Reds. It’s conceivable that the southpaw who was known for his control might have been a long-term member of some MLB starting rotation if only he’d been born 20 years later.

Scantlebury has the same story as Satchel Paige and lesser-known greats such as Quincy Trouppe, Bob Thurman, and Buzz Clarkson, who all debuted in the Majors past their 35th birthdays. They might have been stars if the Majors weren’t segregated prior to 1947, and their ages made it difficult for them to play too many years beyond Jackie Robinson’s breaking of the color barrier (though Paige, the oldest rookie since 1900, somehow managed to pitch in the Majors in three different decades).

Scantlebury’s story might be the most unusual of this group, though. When he signed with the Reds, he shaved a full eight years off his age.

Read the full article here: http://www.thenationalpastimemuseum.com/article/pat-scantlebury-ancient-rookie

Originally published: March 21, 2017. Last Updated: March 21, 2017.