Joe Nuxhall: 70 years ago, Ol' Left-Hander became major league baseball's youngest player

Pitcher, 15, took mound for Reds against Cardinals

 CINCINNATI – Seventy years ago, the Ol' Left-Hander became the Youngest Left-Hander.

It was June 10, 1944, when 15-year-old Joe Nuxhall tripped up the dugout steps, took the mound for the Cincinnati Reds and became the youngest major leaguer of all time – a distinction he holds to this day.

It was four days after D-Day and World War II was raging on. Baseball had sent many of its players to fight, so the teams needed players.

The Reds had gone to Hamilton, Ohio, to look at Orville Nuxhall and they ended up signing his son instead.

Joe was 6-foot, 2-inches, about 190 pounds. He looked the part, even if he wasn't ready to play it.

Now, he was sitting in the dugout, watching the St. Louis Cardinals batter the Reds at Crosley Field.

RELATED: Watch Dennis Janson's four-part TV interview with Nuxhall for CET

Years later, he told me he had a great seat. He was admiring the St. Louis offense - the Cardinals were ahead 13-0 in the ninth inning - when manager Bill McKechnie called on Nuxhall to pitch.

"All of a sudden, Mr. McKechnie tells me to go warm up and, all of a sudden, this isn't as near as good of a seat as I thought it was," Nux said. "And then to have to go out there and face these guys, it was mind-boggling."

After retiring the first batter, Nuxhall managed to walk five, hit a batter and give up two hits and five runs while getting only one more out.

He went off to the minors for eight years to tame his fastball and his temper  before coming back and having a fine career (135-117) with all but five wins as a Red.

He won 17 games in 1955 and had five straight 10-plus win seasons from 1954 to 1958.

He had his best season in 1963 when he was 15-8 with a 2.61 ERA.

Nuxhall was by no means the greatest player in Reds history, but he became one of the most beloved figures in Reds history.

When he retired after the 1966 season, he   had a tremendous career in the broadcast booth. Joe and Marty Brennaman became a fabulous team -  the voices of the Big Red Machine and the soundtrack of many Cincinnati summers.

Nux has been gone about seven years now, but his stories and his memories linger.

He was  one of the best.

Read more about Nux in his Reds' Hall of Fame bio and see his career stats.

 

 

Print this article Back to Top

Comments

or Subscribe now so you can share your opinion! It’s only a penny for a month trial.

Latest Forecast
More Reds News
Lone wolf terror attack security concern for ASG
Lone wolf terror attack security concern for ASG

A lone-gunman scenario is the top security concern for public safety officials here the MLB All-Star Game comes to Cincinnati next year.

Brewers take 5-2 victory over Reds
Brewers take 5-2 victory over Reds

Milwaukee scored three runs on two misjudged balls in the outfield by Chris Heisey, and Wily Peralta pitched seven strong innings in the…

Pop-fly single gives Yankees 3-2 win over Reds
Pop-fly single gives Yankees 3-2 win over Reds

Jacoby Ellsbury got four hits and scored the winning run in the ninth inning on Brian McCann's pop-fly single that dropped…

Reds slump in 7-1 loss to Yankees
Reds slump in 7-1 loss to Yankees

Brandon McCarthy earned his first win for the Yankees with an impressive debut in pinstripes, and Brett Gardner drove in three runs from the…

Reds fall to Yankees 4-3 with no Votto, Phillips
Reds fall to Yankees 4-3 with no Votto, Phillips

Jacoby Ellsbury hit a two-run homer, and David Phelps pitched the Yankees to a fast start in the second half, leading New York to a 4-3…

VIDEO: What's the point of interleague play?
VIDEO: What's the point of interleague play?

Has interleague play ruined the All-Star Game and even tainted the World Series?

Reditorial Cartoon: Who's on first?
Reditorial Cartoon: Who's on first?

Here's one option to replace Joey Votto at first base...

Reds' Simon will cherish All-Star memory
Reds' Simon will cherish All-Star memory

It was destined to be Derek Jeter's night. But Alfredo Simon took home a lasting memory.

Pete Rose gets OK to join All-Star events here
Pete Rose gets OK to join All-Star events here

Pete Rose is allowed to participate in All-Star Game festivities at Great American Ball Park next year, commissioner Bud Selig says.

All-Star tickets will be hard to get, expensive
All-Star tickets will be hard to get, expensive

The Reds know they've got a problem on their hands. There won't be enough 2015 All-Star Game tickets to go around.