Doing it all yourself: Jack Harshman, 1958

Here’s another amazing box score: on September 23, 1958, in a meaningless late-season game between two bad teams in front of fewer than 7,000 people at Memorial Stadium, Orioles pitcher Jack Harshman beat the Senators 3-2. He pitched a complete game, didn’t walk anybody, and struck out nine — and drove in all three Baltimore runs, on two home runs.

I have to admit to never having heard of Harshman before; he only pitched a season and a half for the Orioles. But he had quite a 1958 season — 3rd best ERA in the league, but supported by the worst offense in the AL he finished 12-15. He also walked a ton and slugged .427 (6 of his 16 hits going for home runs!) On a typical day he would have been the 5th or 6th best hitter in the Orioles lineup.

This made me wonder: was Harshman used as a pinch hitter that year? Thanks to the magic of Baseball Reference Play Index, we can see that he certainly was, starting at the end of July. This decision might have been affected by the game on July 16, in which Harshman again recorded a complete victory, and again hit two homers, including a three-run blast providing the final 6-5 margin.

So was he a good pinch hitter? Have a look at September 26. Orioles face the first-place Yankees; they manage only 1 run off Whitey Ford but it’s enough to take a 1-1 tie into extra innings. Top of the 12th, bases loaded, the heartrendingly awful Willy Miranda coming up, and the skipper calls Jack Harshman’s name. And Harshman delivers that glory of glories, the game-winning bases-loaded walk.

Thanks to Stat of the Day for prompting this post by listing pitchers with 10 total bases in a game.

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