- P, 1B, OF
- September 15, 1876
- 5' 10"
- 197 lbs
- Major League Debut:
- 7-14-1898 with LS3
Nicholas Altrock (September 15, 1876 – January 20, 1965) was an American left-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball.
Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, Altrock was one of the better pitchers in baseball for a brief period from 1904 to 1906 with the Chicago White Sox. He was instrumental in the White Sox World Series championship in 1906, going 20-13 with a 2.06 ERA in the regular season and 1-1 with a Series-best 1.00 ERA against the Chicago Cubs.
Police protect Nick Altrock from crowds after pitching a 4 hitter during game 1 of the 1906 World Series. Notice that they are on the infield, as it was commons practice for fans to walk on the field after a game.
An arm injury after 1906 ruined his career, but he hung on with the White Sox and Washington Senators until 1924, though he pitched very little after 1908 and made sporadic pinch-hitting appearances after that, including one in 1933 (facing Rube Walberg of the Philadelphia Athletics) at 57 years of age. He appeared in Major League games in five decades, one of only two players to do this (Minnie Minoso is the other); he is one of only 29 players in baseball history to have appeared in Major League games in four decades.
Altrock became a coach for the Senators in 1912 and remained on the Washington staff until 1953, a 42-year skein that represents the longest consecutive-year tenure of a coach with the same franchise in baseball history.
During that time, he was noted for his antics in the coaching box and teamed with Al Schacht, the "Clown Prince of Baseball," for a dozen years to perform comedy routines on baseball fields in the days before official mascots. Schacht and Altrock also took their antics to the vaudeville stage where they appeared in a comedy routine. Ironically, at the height of their collaboration, Schacht and Altrock developed a deep personal animosity and stopped speaking with each other off the field. During their famous comic re-enactments of the Dempsey-Tunney championship boxing match, many speculated that they pulled no punches as they rained blows on each other.
An anecdote, probably apocryphal, has been printed in some baseball books about a quip by Altrock during his coaching days with the Senators. A batter had hit a ball into the stands and it was not known whether it was fair or foul. The umpire, who had been the target of Altrock's gibes, made the call and shortly afterward a woman was carried from the stands on a litter. The umpire asked Altrock if the ball had hit the woman. In his clear voice, Nick answered, "No. You called that one right and she passed out from shock."
He was the second oldest pitcher ever to play Major League Baseball when he played his last season in 1933.
Altrock died at age 88 in Washington, D.C. in 1965.
1. ^ Laurie, Joe, Jr. Vaudeville: From the Honky-tonks to the Palace. New York: Henry Holt, 1953. p. 127.
2. ^ 1954 Baseball Register. St. Louis: The Sporting News, 1954
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