For a brief period, Tom Sturdivant was a dominant starting pitcher for the New York Yankees, going 32-14 from 1956-57 and helping the Bronx Bombers to the World Series in each year. The big righthander relied on outstanding control and a unique assortment of pitches — he’d start off batters with a knuckleball, and continue from there with a hard-biting curveball and steaming fastball. The break of his curveball was so sharp he earned the nickname “Snake”.
However, he suffered an arm injury in ’58 and eventually lost his pinpoint control. The Yankees sent him to their version of Siberia — Kansas City — and he bounced from team to team until 1964, when he landed with the Mets.
By the time he reached the Mets, however, he was at the end of the string. He appeared in 16 games in ’64, all in relief, and posted one save and a 5.97 ERA. There was one interesting note to his brief stint with the Metropolitans, though — he pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings in one of the longest games in baseball history, a 23-inning, 7 hour, 23-minute affair with the Giants on May 31 (by the way, it was the second game of a doubleheader!).
I’m too young to have seen Sturdivant pitch in the bigs, but I distinctly remember him being one of those guys who always appeared at Old-Timer’s Day. When are they ever going to bring back that event?
Also born on this day: Jorge Sosa (1977) and Lute Barnes (1947).