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Hod Lisenbee

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Horace Milton Lisenbee

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[edit] Biographical Information

Hod Lisenbee was a pitcher 27 years (1917-1949), five in college (1917-1921), eight in the Majors (1927-1945) and 19 in the minors (1925-1949), losing three years to the Military and two years to interrupted retirements.

Lisenbee was born on September 23, 1898, in Clarksville, TN to John M. Lisenbee (1861-1928) and Sarah Adiline Lisenbee (1866-1945), both of Clarksville. He was the second of six children with siblings Ruby (1894-1980); twin sisters Ora (1900-1970) and Ira (1900-????); Tye (1903-1985); and a brother lost in infancy (1910). He attended Southwestern Presbyterian University (now Rhodes College) (1917-1921) and served four years in the U.S. Armed Forces (1921-1925)(GN). He married Carrie West (1905-1988).

Lisenbee was 28 years old when he broke into the big leagues on April 23, 1927, with the Washington Senators. He played with the Tupelo Wolves in the Tri-State League (1925); the Memphis Chickasaws in the Southern Association (SA) (1926); the Senators (1927-1928); the Minneapolis Millers of the American Association (AA) (1928); the Pittsfield Hillies in the Eastern League (1929); the Boston Red Sox (1929-1932); the Buffalo Bisons of the International League (IL) (1932-1933); the Jersey City Skeeters of the IL (1933); the Birmingham Barons of the SA (1933); Buffalo again (1934-1935); the Milwaukee Brewers of the AA (1936); the Philadelphia Athletics (1936); Buffalo a third time in 1936; the Montreal Royals of the IL (1937-1938); the Rochester Red Wings of the IL (1938); the Indianapolis Indians of the AA (1938-1939); the Knoxville Smokies of the SA (1940); the Shreveport Sports in the Texas League (1940); the Portsmouth Cubs in the Piedmont League (1941); the Syracuse Chiefs in the IL (1944); the Cincinnati Reds (1945); and the Clarksville Colts in the Kitty League (1947-1949).

He played his last game in the major leagues at age 47 on September 7, 1945 and continued pitching in the minors until he was past 50.

In spite of his long career, he was a one-year wonder as a rookie, as he got things started by blanking the Boston Red Sox 6–0 for the Senators in his first MLB start. In his 1927 rookie year with Washington he was 18-9 with an American League-leading four shutouts for the 3rd-place Senators. But he would never have another winning season in the big leagues. He beat the "Murderers' Row" New York Yankees five times that season. The Yankees had a 110-44 record that year, but Lisenbee seemed not to notice. He beat them in relief in April, beat them 6-1 on a six-hitter in early May and set them back 7-2 on a four-hitter in late May. In July, he won again, and in August went 11 innings to triumph 3-2. The Yanks finally got to him on September 29th, chasing him in the 1st inning as Babe Ruth socked his 58th home run. (The Babe hit Number 59 later that day, a grand slam.) Hod also gave up number 26 to the Babe earlier in the year.

After that Lisenbee was a journeyman pitcher in both the majors and minors. On September 11, 1936, Manager Connie Mack of the Athletics once again got cheap and failed to take enough pitchers on a road trip. Lisenbee, 37, paid the price, being forced to go the full nine innings despite allowing a record-tying 26 hits and losing 17-2.

Following his retirement in 1942, he came back in 1944 with Syracuse and pitched a no-hitter at the age of 45. The next year, he pitched 31 games for the Reds, mostly in relief. After the war, he continued to pitch in his native city of Clarksville, TN (Kitty League) until he was fifty. (LRD).

The last player born in the 1800’s to play in the majors, Lisenbee, born in 1898, pitched for the Reds in the war year of 1945. He pitched 31 games for the Reds, mostly in relief. After the war, he continued to pitch in his native city of Clarksville until he was 50.

Hod fooled many a young batter in the Kitty with a unique windup style. He would windmill both the pitching hand and the gloved hand, often in opposite directions. He would then move into the pitch and follow through, catching the batter unaware, flatfooted, and off-balance. While he was still pitching this move was declared illegal and constituting a balk.

He was manager and half owner of the Clarksville Colts club in 1946-1948. During the 1948 season he bought the remaining half of the team, but it continued to have problems both at the gate and on the field.

Lisenbee continued to live in Clarksville until his death. He lived the life of a gentleman farmer on his nearby 800-acre farm. He was elected to the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame in 1969. He died at age 89 on November 14, 1987 in Clarksville and is buried there at Liberty Presbyterian Church Cemetery.

[edit] Notable Achievements

  • AL Shutouts Leader (1927)
  • 15 Wins Seasons: 1 (1927)
  • 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 2 (1927 & 1930)

[edit] Records Held

On September 11, 1936 he gave up 26 hits in one game, tying a record set by Doc Parker in 1901 and tied by Al Travers in 1912.

[edit] Famous Last

Lisenbee was the last player born in the 1800s to play in the majors. He is not the last player born in the 19th century to play in the majors, if 1900 is considered the last year of the 19th century and not 1899. Ted Lyons, who was born in 1900 and retired in 1946 was the last active ML player born in the 19th-century under that definition.

[edit] Highlights

  • 1927: On April 23rd, Lisenbee shut out the Boston Red Sox 6–0 for the Senators in his first major league start. On May 5th, the Senators evened the series at two apiece with the New York Yankees as Lisenbee won, 6–1. The Yanks managed six hits - 3 by Bob Meusel. On September 29th, Lisenbee did not last through the 1st inning as Babe Ruth socked his 58th home run.
  • 1928: On December 15th he was traded by the Senators with Elliot Bigelow, Milt Gaston, Grant Gillis and Bobby Reeves to the Red Sox for Buddy Myer. Myer would become a top player in the 1930s.
  • 1936: On July 30th, Vern Kennedy won his tenth in a row, pitching the Chicago White Sox to a win over the A's, 7–4. Bob Johnson connected off Kennedy for his 16th homer of the year, while Gordon Rhodes was handed one of his American League-high twenty losses. Lisenbee, signed the day before, was effective in relief of Rhodes. On September 11th, Lisenbee tied a major league record for hits allowed, giving up 26 in a 17-2 rout by the White Sox.
  • 1944: With Syracuse (IL) he pitched a no-hitter at the age of 45.
  • 1945: On April 17th, Cincinnati opened the season with an 11-inning, 7–6 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Reds offense was sparked by Dain Clay, who cracked a 5th-inning grand slam: it will be his only home run that year in 645 at bats. Also in the 5th, with the Pirates leading 2–0 with two runners on, the Bucs runner at second base, Frankie Zak, called time to tie his shoe lace. The umpire, Ziggy Sears, waved his arms, but Reds pitcher Bucky Walters didn't see him and fired a pitch that Jim Russell hit for an apparent home run. The hit was disallowed, and the Bucs failed to score in the frame. 46-year-old Lisenbee, who had not appeared in the majors in nine years, worked two innings of hitless relief to earn the win, the 37th and last of his career. On September 11th, Lisenbee was released by the Reds.

[edit] Sources

Principal sources for Hod Lisenbee include newspaper obituaries (OB), government Veteran records (VA,CM,CW), Stars & Stripes (S&S), Sporting Life (SL), The Sporting News (TSN), The Sports Encyclopedia:Baseball 2006 by David Neft & Richard Cohen (N&C), old Who's Who in Baseballs {{{WW}}} (WW), old Baseball Registers {{{BR}}} (BR) , old Daguerreotypes by TSN {{{DAG}}} (DAG), Stars&Stripes (S&S), The Baseball Necrology by Bill Lee (BN), Pat Doyle's Professional Ballplayer DataBase (PD), The Baseball Library (BL), Baseball in World War II Europe by Gary Bedingfield (GB) {{{MORE}}} and independent research by Walter Kephart (WK) and Frank Russo (FR) and others. and genealogical records (GN).

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