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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 Friday, 23 September 1898, in Clarksville, TN to John M. Lisenbee (Nov. 25,1861-April 4,1928) and Sarah Adiline Lisenbee (Jan. 19,1866-May 11,1945), both of Clarksville. He was the second of six children with siblings: Ruby E. Lisenbee (Aug. 31,1894-Feb. 7,1980); twin sisters Ora Lee Lisenbee (June 7,1900-Oct. 20,1970) and Ira Bell Lisenbee (June 7,1900-????); Tye D. Lisenbee (Jan. 17,1903-Nov. 9,1985); and a brother lost in infancy (June 5,1910). 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 (April 8,1905-Feb. 9,1988).

Lisenbee was 28 years old when he broke into the big leagues on 23 April 1927, with the Washington Senators. He played with Tupelo in the Tri-State League (1925); Memphis in the Southern Association (SA) (1926); the Senators (1927-1928); the Minneapolis Millers of tme American Association (AA) (1928); Pittsfield in the Eastern League (1929); the Boston Red Sox (1929-1932);the Buffalo Bisons of the International League (IL) (1932-1933); Jersey City of the IL (1933); the Birmingham Barons of the SA (1933); Buffalo (1934-1935); the Milwaukee Brewers of the AA (1936); the Philadelphia Athletics (1936); Buffalo 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); Knoxville of the SA (1940); Shreveport in the Texas League (1940); Portsmouth in the Piedmont League (1941); Syracuse in the IL (1944); the Cincinnati Reds (1945); and the Clarksville Colts in the Kitty League (1947-1949).

He played his last game in MLB at age 47 on 7 September 1944 and continued pitching in the minors until he was past 50.

One-year wonder Lisenbee blanked 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 and will never have another winning season. He beat the "Murderers' Row" 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 6-hitter in early May and set them back 7-2 on a 4-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 29 September, chasing him in the first 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 11 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 forty-five. 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 fifty.

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 1946-48. During the ’48 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 800 acre farm near Clarksville TN He was elected to the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame in 1969. He died at age 89 on 14 November 1987 in Clarksville and is buried there at Liberty Presbyterian Church Cemetery.

[edit] Notable Achievements

  • Led the American League in shutouts his rookie season, 1927 (4)
  • In 1944 with Syracuse (IL) he pitched a no-hitter at the age of forty-five.
  • He was the last player born in the 1800’s to play in the majors
  • His pitching style prompted a change to the balk rule

[edit] Records Held

On 11 September 1936 he gave up 26 hits, 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, as 1900 was the last year of the 19th century, not (as is sometimes thought) 1899. Ted Lyons (born 1900, retired 1946) was the last 19th-century born active ML player.

[edit] Highlights

  • 1927: On 23 April Lisenbee shut out the Boston Red Sox 6–0 for the Senators in his first ML start. On 5 May the Senators even the series at two apiece with the Yankees as Lisenbee wins, 6–1. The Yanks manage six hits -- 3 by Bob Meusel. The Nats are playing their fourth game without stars Sam Rice and Goose Goslin: Rice is out with sinus trouble and Goose has pleurisy. On 29 September, Lisenbee doesn't last through the first inning as Babe Ruth socked his 58th home run.
  • 1936: On 30 July Vern Kennedy wins his tenth in a row, pitching the Chicago White Sox to a win over the A's, 7–4. Bob Johnson connects off Kennedy for his 16th homer of the year, while Gordon Rhodes is handed one of his American League-high twenty losses. Lisenbee, signed the day before, is effective in relief of Rhodes. On 11 September Lisenbee ties a ML 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 17 April Cincinnati opens the season with an 11-inning, 7–6 victory over the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Reds offense was sparked by Dain Clay, who cracks a fifth inning grand slam: it will be his only home run that year in 645 at bats. Also in the fifth, with the Pirates leading 2–0 with two runners on, the Bucs runner at second base, Frankie Zak, calls time to tie his shoe lace. The ump Ziggy Sears waves his arms, but Reds pitcher Bucky Walters doesn't see him and fires a pitch that Jim Russell hits for an apparent home run. The hit is disallowed, and the Bucs fail 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 8 July, filling wartime rosters, the Dodgers bring back Babe Herman from California. He pinch-hits twice against the Cardinals, tripping over first base on a hit. Guy Bush, Clay Touchstone and Lisenbee, contemporaries of Herman in the 1920s, will get their chances on the mound. The Babe will go 9-for-34, mostly as a pinch-hitter, sock one HR, and be a popular gate attraction in Brooklyn. On 11 September Lisenbee is 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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