Cletus Elwood Poffenberger
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 10", Weight 178 lb.
- Debut June 11, 1937
- Final Game May 21, 1939
- Born July 1, 1915 in Williamsport, MD USA
- Died September 1, 1999 in Williamsport, MD USA
Boots Poffenberger was 9-1 with a 2.52 ERA for the Beaumont Exporters in 1937 before being called up to the majors by the Detroit Tigers that summer. As a big league rookie, he was 10-5, but he faltered in his second year, going 6-7 with a 4.82 ERA in 1938 before being sent back to the minors in July. He was claimed off waivers by the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1939 but after just three games with them, he was demoted to the Montreal Royals but refused to report.
He pitched for the Nashville Vols in 1940 and 1941, leading the Southern Association with 26 wins in his first year there. Poffenberger's 1941 season with Nashville was cut short as he got into an argument with the home plate umpire during a June game. Poffenberger fired a baseball at the ump, leading to a 90-day suspension from the Southern Association. He moved on to the San Diego Padres of the Pacific Coast League in 1942, going 9-10 with a 3.86 ERA.
After serving three years in the Marines during World War II, he returned to the Padres for one last season in 1946, posting a 5-6 record and a 3.86 ERA.
He was often compared to Mark Twain's character, Huckleberry Finn, because he grew up without much education or adult supervision along the banks of a river (in his case the Potomac River in Williamsport, MD). He was a true character and was the subject of more stories or anecdotes per day spent in the majors than just about anyone else this side of Rube Waddell.
- Austin Gisriel: Boots Poffenberger: Hurler, Hero, Hell-Raiser, Summer Game Books, South Orange, NJ, 2014. ISBN 978-1-938545-44-3