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Thursday, August 26, 2021

The forgotten tale of Harry Colliflower, baseball’s worst ever pitcher

The most remarkable thing about Colliflower’s ascent to the major is that there’s no romantic story of overcoming adversity. No heralded beginning of the next “great one.” In fact, there’s literally no justification for how anyone would want to sign Harry Colliflower, or why he joined the 1899 Cleveland Spiders.

An on-and-off five year career in the minors of no consequence, it’s unquestioned that Colliflower loved the game of baseball, but it didn’t love him back. He was not an especially gifted batter, or fielder, or anything really. Colliflower battled to have a minor league batting average barely over .200, he was a poor fielder, and on the rare occasion someone decided to put him on the mound, he rewarded them by giving up more hits than innings pitched.

The only thing that caused Colliflower to land on the Spiders was circumstance. Starting the season at 8-30, and recently firing their player-manager Lave Cross, the team was looking to shake things up. In dire need of pitching help during a trip to Washington to face the Senators, new manager Joe Quinn heard rumors of a decent semi-pro pitcher in town. Sight unseen he found and signed Harry Colliflower, immediately putting him on the mound. Colliflower was, against all odds, decent in his first outing in the majors. The Washington Post fell in love with the local player, framing him as a future star following the Spiders’ 5-3 win in town.

“Colliflower possesses every quality that is required in a major league twirler. He has fine control of the ball, good speed, and, the requisite amount of nerve.”

This would not last.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: August 26, 2021 at 10:18 AM | 12 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cleveland spiders

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   1. Bourbon Samurai stays in the fight Posted: August 26, 2021 at 10:42 AM (#6036490)
Fun stuff
   2. vortex of dissipation Posted: August 26, 2021 at 11:19 AM (#6036501)
There can't be many pitchers who had more hit batters (11) than strikeouts (8).
   3. Traderdave Posted: August 26, 2021 at 12:09 PM (#6036509)
There can't be many pitchers who had more hit batters (11) than strikeouts (8)


I'm confident I could achieve that
   4. CFBF is Obsessed with Art Deco Posted: August 26, 2021 at 12:52 PM (#6036520)
The article notes that Colliflower actually managed to hit .303 that season. It was just about the emptiest .303 you'll ever see -- .303/.321/.355, but it was good enough for a 94 OPS+.
   5. DanG Posted: August 26, 2021 at 01:19 PM (#6036527)
As bad as Colliflower was, Frank Bates pitched even worse for the Spiders that year.
   6. Walt Davis Posted: August 26, 2021 at 03:34 PM (#6036558)
With that name, are we sure this wasn't a (very) young WC Fields long-form gag?
   7. Starring Bradley Scotchman as RMc Posted: August 26, 2021 at 04:23 PM (#6036568)
More on Harry here.

Harry eased into a graceful retirement from the sporting scene, coming out occasionally to perform “Casey at the Bat” for athletic club luncheons.


I want to live in a world where old ballplayers perform “Casey at the Bat” at athletic club luncheons.
   8. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: August 26, 2021 at 04:28 PM (#6036570)
I'm confident I could achieve that

Are you confident you throw hard enough that the batters couldn't easily dodge your pitches? They're not going to want to settle for one base.
   9. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: August 26, 2021 at 04:40 PM (#6036573)
Also: baseball's worst speller.
   10. Zach Posted: August 26, 2021 at 08:18 PM (#6036594)
I'm confident I could achieve that

They dodge, though. And some of those guys are pretty small.
   11. Walt Davis Posted: August 26, 2021 at 08:20 PM (#6036595)
Sure, but I only need to hit one to have more HBP than strikeouts.
   12. Traderdave Posted: August 27, 2021 at 09:22 AM (#6036664)
Are you confident you throw hard enough that the batters couldn't easily dodge your pitches? They're not going to want to settle for one base.



My 45 MPH fastball is un-dodgable

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