Hoyt Wilhelm

Hoyt Wilhelm

Old Sarge
July 26, 1922
190 lbs
Major League Debut:
4-19-1952 with NY1
Hall of Fame:


An extremely durable and effective relief pitcher, Hoyt Wilhelm pitched until he was nearly fifty years old due to his mastery of the knuckleball. He was an All-Star as a 29-year old in his second season in 1953, and as a 46-year old in his 19th season, in 1970. Known as a reliever - his 1,070 games included just 52 starts - he threw a no-hit, no-run game against the New York Yankees on September 20, 1958. He was the first relief pitcher elected to the Hall of Fame, in 1985.

Unform Number

#49 (1952-1956), #25 (1957 Cardinals), #26 (1957-1958 Indians), #15 (1958-1962), #31 (1963-1968, 1971 Dodgers, 1972), #39 (1969 Angels - 1971 Braves)

Quotes From

"I don't even try to fool anybody. I just throw the knuckleball 85 to 90 percent of the time. You don't need variations, because the damn ball jumps around so crazily, it's like having a hundred pitches." — Wilhelm, in 1969

Best Season

Wilhelm had a lot of very, very fine seasons. His '65 campaign was for the ChiSox, for whom he saved 20 games and won seven. He posted a nasty 1.81 ERA (nearly one and a half runs below the league norm), pitching 144 innings in 66 relief appearances. Most impressively, he allowed just 88 hits and 32 walks in the 144 innings, striking out 106 batters.

Factoid 1

Hoyt Wilhelm and Earl Averill are the only Hall of Famers to hit a home run in their first ML at-bat.

Factoid 2

Hoyt Wilhelm's no-hitter for the Orioles against New York in 1958, was the only no-hitter pitched against the Yankees for 45 years, until five Expos' hurlers blanked them in 2003.


Before 1948 Season: Sent from the Mooresville (North Carolina State) to the New York Giants in an unknown transaction; February 26, 1957: Traded by the New York Giants to the St. Louis Cardinals for Whitey Lockman; September 21, 1957: Selected off waivers by the Cleveland Indians from the St. Louis Cardinals; August 23, 1958: Selected off waivers by the Baltimore Orioles from the Cleveland Indians; January 14, 1963: Traded by the Baltimore Orioles with Ron Hansen, Dave Nicholson, and Pete Ward to the Chicago White Sox for Luis Aparicio and Al Smith; October 15, 1968: Drafted by the Kansas City Royals from the Chicago White Sox as the 49th pick in the 1968 expansion draft; December 12, 1968: Traded by the Kansas City Royals to the California Angels for Ed Kirkpatrick and Dennis Paepke; September 8, 1969: Traded by the California Angels with Bob Priddy to the Atlanta Braves for Mickey Rivers and Clint Compton; September 21, 1970: Selected off waivers by the Chicago Cubs from the Atlanta Braves; November 30, 1970: Traded by the Chicago Cubs to the Atlanta Braves for Hal Breeden; June 29, 1971: Released by the Atlanta Braves; July 10, 1971: Signed as a Free Agent with the Los Angeles Dodgers; July 21, 1972: Released by the Los Angeles Dodgers.


His knuckleball. Wilhelm had great command of the pitch, despite its' movement.


He was a dismal hitter, batting .088 (38-for-432) with five extra-base hits in 21 years!

The Link

Wilhelm was 28-years old when he finally broke into the majors in 1952, and he stuck around until 1972. Over that stretch his career linked some of baseball's great players. With the Giants in '52, Wilhelm faced Dutch Leonard, pitching for the Cubs. Leonard had faced Babe Ruth. Wilhelm would pitch against Willie Mays, Henry Aaron, Frank Robinson, and Mickey Mantle. He would also face Pete Rose, Reggie Jackson, and Rod Carew. His teammates ranged from Bob Elliott, Sal Maglie, Stan Musial and Willie Mays, to Ralph Garr, Dusty Baker, Rowland Office and Steve Garvey. He played with Billy Rigney and Bobby Valentine - whom would debut as managers 30 years apart.

Hoyt Wilhelm
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