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Freddie Fitzsimmons

Freddie Fitzsimmons

Freddie Fitzsimmons for New York Giants

Position(s):
P
Nicknames:
Fat Freddie
Born:
July 28, 1901
Bats:
Right
Throws:
Right
Height:
5' 11"
Weight:
185 lbs
Major League Debut:
8-12-1925 with NY1

Intro

Fred Fitzsimmons was a portly pitcher with excellent control despite relying heavily on a knuckleball. He combined with Carl Hubbell to form a tough righty/lefty duo on the New York Giants of the 1930s, and his trade to the rival Dodgers in 1937 was a shock to his fans. He pitched in three World Series, and won 217 games with a winning percentage near .600 for his career. After his pitching days ended, he managed and coached in three different decades.

Unform Number

#11 (1932), #12 (1933-1937), #10 (1937 Dodgers), #14 (1938-1943)

Replaced By

Right-hander Kirby Higbe, who came over from the Phillies in 1941 and won 22 games for the Dodgers. Fitzsimmons was part of the five-man rotation most of the year but an arm injury knocked him on the shelf with a 6-1 record, 2.07 ERA in 12 starts.

Best Season

The year after his Giants won the World Series, Fitzsimmons posted a 3.04 ERA (5th in the NL) in more than 260 innings, in which he walked just 51 batters. He hurled three shutouts and completed 14 of his 37 starts, en route to an 18-14 hard-luck record.

Factoid 1

Freddie Fitzsimmons served as general manager of the NFL's football Brooklyn Dodgers in 1943 and 1944.

Factoid 2

When Freddie Fitzsimmons went 4-8 in 1935, all four of his victories were shutouts. He missed the second-half of the season with bone chips in his throwing arm.

Coach

Brookyn Dodgers (1942), Boston Braves (1948), New York Giants (1949-1955), Chicago Cubs (1957-1959, 1966), Kansas City A's (1960) Fitzsimmons and Giants' teammates Carl Hubbell and Mel Ott made an agreement that if any of them received offers to manage, they would offer jobs to each other as coaches. When Ott was named Giants skipper in 1942, Hubbell was still active as a pitcher. Ott offered a job to Fitz, but Freddie declined, preferring to stay with the Dodgers. In 1944, when Fitz was the Phillies' manager, he intended on hiring Hubbell, but Ott took him on in New York instead. "I didn't want Carl kicked around in Philadelphia," Ott said, referring to the poor performance of the Phils.

Transition

June 11, 1937: Traded by the New York Giants to the Brooklyn Dodgers for Tom Baker (it was Baker's 24th birthday); Baker was a big Texas-born, right-hander, who Bill Terry said reminded him of Dazzy Vance. The Dodgers apparently knew Baker was never going to amount to much, and they were correct. Baker pitched 35 games for the Giants and won just once before he was released.

Strengths

Fitz was also a master of the knuckler, and his control of that pitch was legendary. "Fitzsimmons' chief stock in trade is his fine knuckleball," wrote Dan Daniel of The Sporting News in 1939, "He throws a mean curve, too. But the famous old butterfly is his marvel...Fitz seems to be able to do more things with that delivery than anyone else. I believe he was the first to get real control over it, and the first to pitch a knuckleball with speed...Fitz always has been able to make it (the knuckler) slow, faster and a bit faster yet."

Weaknesses

Speed

Red Menace

Fitzsimmons had uncommon success against the Cincinnati Reds. In 1929 he threw four shutouts, all of them against the Reds — in succession. He blanked them 3-0 on June 8 and 9-0 three days later; on July 7 he whitewashed the Reds 8-0 in game one of a doubleheader; and on July 30 he shut them out 3-0 to make it 36 straight scoreless innings against the team. He added two more wins against the Reds in 1929.

Freak Injury

During spring training with the Giants in 1927, Fitzsimmons was sitting in a rocking chair on the porch of the team hotel when he rocked over the fingers on his pitching hand. His fingers were flattened and he was out of action for three weeks.

Freddie Fitzsimmons: Run Support

Year Starts Runs RPS Team Diff 1925 8 46 5.75 4.79 +0.96 1926 26 137 5.27 4.21 +1.06 1927 31 179 5.77 5.15 +0.62 1928 31 147 4.74 5.32 -0.58 1929 30 213 7.10 5.61 +1.49 1930 29 233 8.03 5.81 +2.22 1931 33 185 5.61 4.86 +0.75 1932 31 90 2.90 5.41 -2.51 1933 35 148 4.23 4.03 +0.20 1934 37 174 4.70 5.05 -0.35 1935 15 58 3.87 5.05 -1.18 1936 17 75 4.41 4.87 -0.46 1937 4 26 6.50 4.77 +1.73 1937 13 44 3.38 4.03 -0.65 1938 26 118 4.54 4.68 -0.14 1939 20 70 3.50 4.66 -1.16 1940 18 100 5.55 4.33 +1.22 1941 12 55 4.58 5.14 -0.56 1942 1 6 6.00 4.78 +1.22 1943 7 27 3.86 4.72 -0.86 424 2,131 5.03 4.83 +0.20 RPS = runs scored per start by his team Team = runs scored per start by his team in other pitchers' starts Diff = difference between his run support and that of his teammates

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Tagged:
1941 World Series, Brooklyn Dodgers, Freddie Fitzsimmons, New York Giants

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