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Candy Cummings

Candy Cummings

Position(s):
OF, P
Born:
October 18, 1848
Bats:
Right
Throws:
Right
Height:
5' 9"
Weight:
120 lbs
Major League Debut:
4-22-1872 with NY2
Hall of Fame:
1939

One of the least-known players in Baseball's Hall of Fame, Candy Cummings gained notoriety as the supposed inventor of the curveball. Though that claim may not be true, he was one of the best pitchers in the country in the 1870s. Cummings claimed he came up with the idea of a curveball after tossing clam shells on the beach in his native Massachussetts, when he was a teenager. His strange pitch helped him win between 28 and 35 games each season from 1872-1875, for four different teams. In 1939, Cummings was elected to the Hall of Fame, for his "invention," more than his talent.

Best Season: 1872

His first "professional" season, Cummings led the strikeouts, innings, games, shutouts, and complete games. I guess that would have earned him Rookie of the Year status, except the league was new and everyone was technically a rookie.

Candy Cummings: Inventor of the Curve

Arthur [Candy] Cummings, a Brooklyn youth, was the first to bring into use the out-curve. He was known as the boy wonder, back in 1869, with the Stars of Brooklyn. I have heard him tell how he first discovered the curve. He was pitching against a picked nine one day, and noticed the ball curving. He had no difficulty in striking the batsman out, and went home that night and tried to study out the phenomenon. Next day he invited some gentleman friends out to see him work. They laughed at him, and when he tried to convince them that he could accomplish what he claimed he failed; no doubt in his anxiety he sent the ball too fast, and very little curve can be got on a speedy-pitched ball. He was not discouraged, however, but went with his catcher next day and learned that the curve came from a certain twist he gave his wrist. He worked hard until he got control of the new move and then astonished the scientific world. Cummings was of slight build, his pitching was very graceful, and his curve was of the sailing kind, much like Crauthers’ of the St. Louis Browns.

From The California Spirit of the Times & Underwriter’s Journal, September 17, 1887. The article was written from the persepctive of former player Tim Murran. Credit to SABR member Carlos Bauer.

 

Where He Played

Starting pitcher, almost excusively.

"Candy" was a term of endearment from adoring fans.

 

Similar Players

Dick McBride

Related Players

Fred Goldsmith, who may have been the real inventor of the curveball. Though eight years younger than Cummings, Goldsmith perfected the pitch and demonstrated it in 1870, six years after Cummings claimed to have started work on it. It was difficult to figure out who deserved the credit then, and impossible now. Goldsmith started his career as a second baseman, but later pitched for seven years in the National Association, National League, and American Association. He played his last major league game in 1884, having won 112 games.

 

Hall of Fame Voting

Year Election Votes Pct

1939 Old Timers %

 

Best Strength as a Player

His curveball, of course.

 

Largest Weakness as a Player

He was very small (120 pounds), making him susceptible to fatigue and injury. By the time he was 27, he was done as a player.

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Tagged:
Baseball History, Candy Cummings, Curveball, Hall of Fame

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