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TOM KNIGHT: Blanton never quite broke out

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

Today we remember Cy Blanton, who pitched back during the 1930s and early ‘40s.

It was during spring training in 1939 that Pittsburgh Pirates hurler Blanton looked so good. He was one of those fellows who always seemed to be on the verge of a big season. He won 18 games and led the league in earned run average (2.59) in 1935.

In 1937, he pitched in the All-Star game. That was the same game in which Brooklyn Dodgers ace right-hander Van Mungo injured his arm. It was all downhill for Mungo after that. (The A.L. won that game, 8-3.)

I saw Blanton beat Brooklyn in a game at Ebbets Field that same season. After a disappointing 1938 season, the six-foot, 190-pound right-hander started a spring training exhibition game against the Cleveland Indians. Blanton pitched the entire game. He not only shut the Indians out, but he pitched a no-hit game!

Pirates great Pie Traynor was the manager and was so elated that he flatly predicted Blanton would be a 20-game winner that year!

It was not to be. Blanton won only two games and his days as a Pirate were numbered. After his 18 wins in 1935, he went to 13-15 in ’36, 14-12 in ’37, 11-7 in ’38, and 2-3 in ’39.

The Phillies, known as the “Futile Phils” in those days, signed Blanton for the 1940 season. He won four games and lost three that season and, in 1941, he was 6-13. In 1942, his final year, he lost four and won none. Lifetime, he won 68 and lost 71. His ERA was 3.55.

I remember meeting Cy and some other Phillies on the subway one day after a game. I was a youngster at the time and Cy was kind enough to give me his autograph. An Oklahoman, he died in his hometown of Norman on Sept. 13, 1945 at the much too early age of 36.

* * *

“Deacon” Danny MacFayden was one of the early pitchers who wore eyeglasses on the diamond. The 5’11”, 175-pound right-hander, who looked more like a preacher than an athlete, came to the Boston Red Sox directly from the semi-pros in 1926.

Quiet and mild-mannered, MacFayden was a good pitcher who had the misfortune of pitching for poor ballclubs during most of his 17-year major league career.

He won 16 games for the sixth-place Sox in 1931. His big break came in mid-1932, when he was sent to the powerhouse Yankees.

“Deacon” won seven and lost five as the Yanks won the pennant and won the World Series over the Chicago Cubs in a four-game sweep. After that, he just couldn’t find himself and was sent to the Reds in 1935. That same season, he went to the Boston Braves.

He made a great comeback in 1936 and won 17 with the lowly Beantowners and 14 in each of the following two seasons.

Lifetime he was 132-159. In 2,700 innings, he had an earned run average of 3.96. Once with the Red Sox, he struck out Ruth, Gehrig and Lazzeri with the bases loaded!

Danny MacFayden was 67 when he died in Brunswick, Maine on Aug. 26, 1972.

July 20, 2012 - 5:16pm


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