James Willard Ramsdell
(Willie the Knuck)
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 5' 10", Weight 180 lb.
- High School Chanute High School
- Debut September 24, 1947
- Final Game July 15, 1952
- Born April 4, 1916 in Williamsburg, KS USA
- Died October 8, 1969 in Wichita, KS USA
"Willie the Knuck" Ramsdell was, as might be expected, a knuckleball pitcher. He was in the majors for five years, posting better-than-average ERA's in the last three.
His minor league career began in 1938 and ended in 1954. He had three seasons in which he won at least 20 games. He began with four seasons in the West Texas-New Mexico League, leading the league with 23 wins in 1940 and 25 wins in 1941. He was a combined 20-11 in 1942, then was voluntarily retired in 1943. He served in the military in 1944-1945, then went 17-7 and 21-5 for the Fort Worth Cats in 1946-1947.
Ramsdell was a 31-year-old rookie in 1947, pitching a couple of games for the pennant-winning Brooklyn Dodgers. His best year was his last, 1952, at age 36, when he posted a 2.42 ERA for the Chicago Cubs. On June 19th that year, he faced off against Carl Erskine of the Dodgers, who pitched a no-hitter; Ramsdell drew a walk against Erskine for the Cubs' only baserunner of the game.
In between his major league stints, he went 18-12 for the Hollywood Stars in 1949. The book The Hollywood Stars has a photo of him and some text about him.
He was a player-manager for the Iola Indians of the Western Association in 1954, but quit on May 19th after the club started the year 2-17. He made a couple more pitching stops in the minors that season, which turned out to be his last as a player.