- June 16, 1922
- 6' 1"
- 195 lbs
- Major League Debut:
- 4-19-1949 with CHA
Surkont was signed at age 15 by the Cardinals (his "bonus" was a hotel meal of beans and frankfurters), but it took him 12 seasons to reach the majors. A regular starter with the Braves in the early 1950s, he had his only winning record for a complete ML season in 1953, when he was 11-5. On the night of May 25, 1953, the burly fastballer set a ML record (since broken) by striking out eight Cincinnati batters in a row, the last one after a 35-minute rain delay.
Minor league pitcher
A native of Central Falls, Rhode Island, Surkont was in the St. Louis Cardinals organization as a major league prospect. He was highly touted in 1942, prior to injuring his arm during spring training. This impeded his advancement throughout the season, as the injury was of a lingering kind. Surkont was sold to the Braves before being returned to the Cardinals after manager Billy Southworthpassed on him. He was again shipped to the Rochester Red Wings, where he remained until 1949. Then the Chicago White Sox risked the draft price on Surkont. The team was struggling at the time to emerge from the second division of the American League standings.
Surkont pitched for the Milwaukee Braves in 1953 on opening day, he shut out the Cincinnati Reds 2-0 on three hits and it was the first game in theMilwaukee Braves' history. By mid-May, he was 5-0 taking the team into the league lead after a seventh-place finish the previous season in their last year in Boston. Against the Cincinnati Reds on May 25, 1953, he recorded eight consecutive strikeouts. Following his seventh straight strikeout, Surkont was forced to endure a thirty-five minute rain delay. The modern day major league mark of seven in a row held by Hooks Wiltse of the 1908 Giants and Dazzy Vance (1924) and Van Lingle Mungo(1936), both of the Dodgers, had been equaled. When play resumed, Surkont struck out Andy Seminick to establish a new record, but another 40-minute delay nearly wiped out the game and the record. Play eventually resumed and the game was completed, with Max finishing with 13 strikeouts in the 10-3 victory. The record stood until Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher,Tom Seaver, struck out ten in a row in 1970.
by Thomas Michael McDade
Like turncoats facing a firing squad they fell:
Wehmeier, Bridges, Adams, Bell, Marshall,
BorKowski. Hatton and SeminicK made it official. Fans in
MilwauKee, 25 May of fifty-three lucKed out, witnessed Max
SurKont, hurling pride of PawtucKet, R.I. rout the Redlegs
racKing up, count 'em, eight StriKeouts in a record row.
His 31st birthday on June 16, 1953, was designated as "Max Surkont Night" at County Stadium and he ran his record to 9-1. But he would win just twice more in July and finished the year with a record of 11-5.
He was traded in the off season to The Pittsburgh Pirates with five other players for Danny O'Connell.
He was projected to be a top starter for Pittsburgh Pirates. It was reported that Surkont ate his way off the Braves' team, having an especial fondness for polish sausage. He was also with the Cardinals, and the New York Giants through 1957, finishing 61-76.
Max began his pro career in 1938. He missed the 1943-1945 seasons due to military service.
Surkont, who owned a cafe back in Rhode Island, was retired in Largo, FL, where he died October 8, 1986 at age 64.