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Harvey Haddix

Harvey Haddix

Position(s):
OF, P
Nicknames:
Kitten
Born:
September 18, 1925
Bats:
Left
Throws:
Left
Height:
5' 9"
Weight:
170 lbs
Major League Debut:
8-20-1952 with SLN
Allstar Selections:
1958 GG, 1959 GG, 1960 GG

Harvey Haddix, Jr. (September 18, 1925 – January 8, 1994) was a Major League Baseball left-handed pitcher who played with the St. Louis Cardinals (1952–1956), Philadelphia Phillies (1956–1957), Cincinnati Redlegs (1958), Pittsburgh Pirates (1959–1963) and Baltimore Orioles (1964–1965). Haddix was born in Medway, Ohio, located just outside of Springfield.

Harvey Haddix, nicknamed the Kitten due to his resemblance of Cardinal Pitcher Harry “the Cat” Brecheen, may have done most of his best work early in his career with the Cardinals, but it was a rainy night on May 26th, 1959 that etched Haddix forever in the minds of all true baseball fans when he tossed what will always goes down, without a doubt, as the finest game ever pitched.

The Kitten began his professional baseball career in 1974 with Winston-Salem of the Carolina League and immediately became a star in the circuit striking out 268 in 204 innings of work that included an 8-0 no-hitter against Danville on August 11th.  Because of his efforts, Haddix would be named MVP of the circuit.

His major league debut would be delayed for a couple years as Harvey fulfilled a two-year commitment to the armed forces in 1951 and 1952, but when he finally got the opportunity he more than took advantage.  After a short 2-2 trial in ’52 after he returned, Haddix had his greatest overall season in his official rookie year of 1953 when he won 20 games for the only time in his career going 20-9 with a 3.06 ERA good for 4th in the NL.  Despite the phenomenal freshman campaign, he was beaten by Dodger third baseman Junior Gilliam for the Rookie of the Year award.

Haddix followed up that season with a good 18-13 mark, being selected to his second straight all-star game.  Despite the solid campaign, Haddix would be hit in the knee off as line drive by the man that 5 years later would crush his dreams, Joe Adcock, late in the season.  The injury would cause permanent nerve damage in Haddix’s knee and he admitted later on that he was never the same after that, which the figures prove out as he never would approach those lofty numbers again.

Bouncing around with the Cards, Phillies and Reds for the next couple seasons, the Kitten was dealt to the Bucs in 1959 with Smoky Burgess and Don Hoak in one of the singular greatest trades in Pirate history.  With Haddix, the team finally had the solid left-handed starter they were looking for.  What Harvey also gave them was a terrific fielder as he won three consecutive Gold Glove awards between 1958-1960.

Even though he was only 12-12 his first year with the team, it was a performance on May 26th that will always make Pirate fans forget his mediocre 45-38 record in his Bucco career.  Haddix took the mound that night despite suffering from the flu.  The Kitten more than compensated for that by hitting almost every corner he aimed at.  Burgess, who was the catcher that night, said he had perfectly pinpointed just about every pitch.  Years later the Braves Bob Buhl admitted they were stealing the signs from Burgess because he couldn’t crouch down the whole way, but Haddix’s mastery was such that it just didn’t matter.

He would mow down 27 in a row, a 9-inning perfect game, but his club couldn’t score a run.  They blew a golden opportunity early on when Roman Mejias tried to go from 1st to 3rd on an infield out and was thrown out.

Haddix would take his masterpiece into the 13th inning, putting away a remarkable 36 Braves in a row, before Don Hoak misplayed a ball throwing it away, allowing Felix Mantilla to go to second on an error.  The perfect game now gone, Haddix walked Hank Aaron to pitch to his old nemesis Adcock.  Adcock destroyed Haddix’s night by smashing a homer.  Despite the fact he passed up Aaron on the base path and was called out, the Braves still won 1-0. 

The Ohio native would have a solid 1960 season and got the opportunity to pitch in his one and only World Series. The Kitten won game 5, 5-2 in Yankee Stadium, limiting the powerful Yanks to only 5 hits in 6 1/3 innings.  He then had the honor of being the final pitcher the club used in game 7, and was named the official winner of the game ending his experience in the fall classic with a 2-0 record and 2.45 ERA on a club with a cumulative 7.11 mark.

Coaching

After a 10-6 season the following year, Haddix remained with the team until 1963 when he was sent to the Orioles for a minor leaguer and cash.  Haddix tossed two seasons in Baltimore as an effective reliever, retiring after the 1965 campaign with a solid 136-113 record.  He became a pitching coach afterwards for several teams including the Mets, Reds, Red Sox, Indians and finally the Pirates for Chuck Tanner between 1979-1984.  His last staff led the league in ERA despite their last place finish.  Haddix enjoyed coaching more than he did playing

Death

Suffering from emphysema due to his three pack a day cigarette addiction during his playing years, Haddix passed away in 1994.  Three years earlier, the powers that be in baseball decided that they would only recognize complete nine inning or more games in which no hits had been given up as official no-hitters relegating the greatest game ever pitched to nothing more than the longest one-hitter in major league history.  Despite the attempt, those who saw it and those who read about it will always know that on one single night, May 26th, 1959, no body was ever better than the Kitten himself, Harvey Haddix.


Career highlights and awards

    * 3× All-Star selection (1953, 1954, 1955)
    * 2× World Series champion (1960, 1979)
    * 3× Gold Glove Award winner (1958, 1959, 1960)

Source:
Pittsburgh Pirates Encyclopedia
Wikipedia

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Tagged:
1960 World Series, 1979 World Series, All-Star, Baltimore Orioles, Cincinnati Redlegs, Gold Glove, Harvey Haddix, Philadelphia Phillies, Pittsburgh Pirates, St. Louis Cardinals, The Pittsburgh Pirates Encyclopedia

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