Knuckleball Pitcher Hoyt Wilhelm on Verge of (Another) Local Honor

hoyt-wilhelm-statueAdding to many other honors (like the commemorative statue pictured, near  Huntersville Athletic Park), famed knuckleball pitcher Hoyt Wilhelm (1922-2002) may soon get a park named after him in Cornelius, North Carolina. This is the spot where he first played baseball in high school and tried out his knuckleball.

The Cornelius Parks, Arts, Recreation & Culture Department has scheduled a public hearing for 5:30 p.m. Nov. 3 on a proposal to rename Cornelius Elementary School Neighborhood Park to James Hoyt Wilhelm Memorial Athletic Complex….

The Huntersville native began his baseball career playing for Cornelius High, on the grounds of the new park.

Wilhelm features prominently in our IKA’s Knuckleball History page:

An eight-time All Star and a 1954 World Series champion, in 1985 Hoyt Wilhelm became the third knuckleballer to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. His career had spanned two decades (1952 to 1975). Wilhelm achieved great success as both a starter and a reliever, pitching 2,254⅓ innings while appearing in 1,070 games with an impressive 2.52 earned run average. He ranked second only to the great Walter Johnson on the all-time list of career earned run average for pitchers with 2,000 or more innings pitched after 1927.

Several of our posts report further details about Wilhelm’s career. For example, see “Remembering Late-Starting, Long-Playing Knuckleballer Hoyt Wilhelm,” about how he “pitched until several days shy of his 50th birthday, [yet] didn’t even get started in the major leagues until he was 29. A war and a war injury had delayed him.”

In “Hoyt Wilhelm Discussing, and Throwing, His Knuckleball,” we talk about a late 1950s episode of the “The Inside Pitch with Bob Wolff” (YouTube video here) on which Wilhelm explains and demonstrates the pitch.

He is also prominently mentioned in one of our posts about how learning the knuckleball has prolonged the career of baseball players, “Knuckleball Word of the Day: Longevity.

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Although the Toronto Blue Jays—R.A. Dickey’s team—have been lagging behind the Cleveland Indians three games to zero in the American League Championship, the Jays managed to keep themselves in the series on Tuesday by winning Game 4. (The win bucked a trend; as the New York Times noted, “none of the last nine teams that fell behind by 3-0 in a best-of-seven playoff series had even won Game 4, let alone the series.”) The loss was the first the Indians have suffered in the postseason. But now, with Game 5, the Jays are out. The Indians beat them 3-0.

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