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Jimmy Lavender

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James Sanford Lavender

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 11", Weight 165 lb.

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[edit] Biographical Information

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"Here was a manager known for his astute moves choosing me, a raw rookie just up from Providence in the old New England League, to go in there and face one of the most ferocious hitters in the game. Somehow I managed to get Wagner out ... Later ... I asked him why ... Chance snapped: "... there was no reason waiting all season to find out what you had in the way of nerve and ability". - Jimmy Lavender, about being chosen by manager Frank Chance to face Honus Wagner, as described in Baseball Digest

Jimmy Lavender pitched in the majors from 1912 to 1917, mostly for the Chicago Cubs in the days between their pennants of 1910 and 1918. He won in double figures each year that he pitched for the Cubs.

Lavender was born in Barnesville, GA and in 1906 pitched in the Georgia State League. After winning 21 games for Holyoke in 1908, he spent three years with Providence in the Eastern League, winning a peak of 19 games in 1911.

His major league debut with the Cubs in 1911 was successful, as he went 16-13 with a 3.04 ERA for manager Frank Chance. From 1913 to 1916, though, he never had a record higher than .500, although the team played above .500 in 1913 and 1914. His ERA of 2.58 in 1915 was much better than the team ERA of 3.11.

He spent the 1917 season with the Philadelphia Phillies.

Years later, Baseball Digest in April 1967 carried an article called "The Rookie Who Stopped Marquard's 19-Win Streak". The article said that Lavender had failed to make his high school team in Barnesville. After military school, he worked in a knitting mill and experimented with a spitball as a sandlot pitcher. In the majors he was a spitball pitcher who also used a fastball. Nap Rucker felt Lavender was one of the most effective of the early spitball pitchers. Jimmy pitched a shutout in the Chicago city series in 1915, and also had a no-hitter against the San Francisco Giants in 1915. After his baseball days, he came back to work at the mill.

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