Claral Gillenwater

From BR Bullpen

Claral Lewis Gillenwater

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 6' 0", Weight 187 lb.

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Biographical Information[edit]

Claral Gillenwater pitched five games for the Chicago White Sox in 1923.

He began his professional career for the Peoria Tractors in 1920 and pitched for the San Francisco Seals in 1921 and 1922. He also pitched for the Saginaw Aces of the Michigan-Ontario League in 1921, before appearing in the Pacific Coast League late in the season, and again in 1922 after starting the season in San Francisco but being hit hard. He was sent to the Evansville Evas of the Three-I League later in 1922. Before the 1923 season, the Seals sold him to the Nashville Volunteers of the Southern Association, but was quickly demoted to the Greenville Spinners of the South Atlantic League. He was released but got picked up by the Muskegon Anglers of the Michigan-Ontario League, where he went 10-1, 2.61 in 14 games. This is where he caught the attention of the White Sox, who gave him a late-season tryout.

In his big league debut for the Sox against the New York Yankees on August 20th, he gave up 7 hits and 5 runs in 2 innings of relief in a 16-5 loss. But on August 25th, he tossed a gem against the Boston Red Sox, a four-hit 3-0 shutout that was the highlight of his brief big league career. All in all, he went 1-3, 5.48 in his 5 games, of which three were starts. He was returned to Muskegon on September 9th, having failed to impress the team brass sufficiently to be retained over the longer term.

In 1924, he signed with the Norfolk Tars of the Virginia League, but only went 4-10 to earn his release. he finished the year with the Petersburg Goobers of the same circuit, where he went 4-8. In 1925, he returned to the Three-I League with the Terre Haute Tots, where he had a good season (15-8, 4.06). He also played second base occasionally and hit .330 that year, which was his best as a professional. He was back with Terre Haute at the start of 1926, but was sent to the Quincy Red Birds during the year. A 10.29 ERA in 63 innings for Quincy did not enhance his future prospects, however. He was with Evansville to start 1927 but pitched porly again and was sent down to the Wheeling Stogies of the Middle Atlantic League, a Class C circuit. He went 13-3, 1.66 there, dominating the lower level of opposition. He returned to Wheeling at the start of 1928 and was the team's opening day pitcher, but, following the birth of a daughter in the off-season, he decided to return home after 11 games. From that point on, he pitched only in semi-professional leagues.

He became a barber in Saginaw, MI after his playing career. His unusual first name was never used by newspapers, who called him everything from Claude to Clarel to Alton to Allen or Clyde. However, his equally unusual last name makes it easy to figure out that they are speaking of the same pitcher. He had an underhand delivery with his best pitch a slow curveball.

He moved to Florida in retirement and died in Bradenton, FL in 1978, aged 77.

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