|Name:||Smoky Joe Wood|
|Birth Day:||October 25, 1889|
|Death Date:||Jul 27, 1985 (age 95)|
As per our current Database, Smoky Joe Wood died on Jul 27, 1985 (age 95).
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He started out playing on amateur baseball teams in Ouray, Colorado.
After joining the Red Sox in 1908 at the age of 18, Wood had his breakthrough season in 1911 in which he won 23 games, compiled an earned run average of 2.02, threw a no-hitter against the St. Louis Browns and struck out 15 batters in a single game. Wood once struck out 23 batters in an exhibition game. He earned the nickname "Smoky Joe" because of his blazing fastball. Wood recounted in the seminal 1966 book The Glory of Their Times, "I threw so hard I thought my arm would fly right off my body."
Wood's best season came in 1912, in which he won 34 games while losing only 5, had an ERA of 1.91 and struck out 258. Since 1900, pitchers have won 30 or more games only 21 times, with Wood's 34 wins being the sixth-highest total. He also tied Walter Johnson's record for consecutive victories with 16.
On September 6, 1912, Wood faced off against Johnson in a pitching duel at Fenway Park. At the time, Wood had a 13-game winning streak and Johnson had recently had his own American League record 16-game winning streak snapped. The papers of the time hyped the matchup like a heavyweight prize fight, and a standing-room-only crowd of 29,000 packed the park that day. Johnson and Wood dueled to a scoreless tie through five innings, when with two outs in the sixth, Boston's Tris Speaker doubled to left on a 1–2 count and Duffy Lewis knocked him in with a double down the right-field line. Meanwhile, Wood gave up only two hits and no runs and the Red Sox prevailed, 1–0.
His peers concurred. A story that gained common parlance was that legendary fastballer and pitching contemporary Walter Johnson once said, "Can I throw harder than Joe Wood? Listen, my friend, there's no man alive can throw harder than Smoky Joe Wood!" But in the Johnson biography by his grandson, Baseball's Big Train, this statement was traced to a descendant of Smoky Joe, a fabricated quote. But reminded of Johnson's supposed assessment 60 years later, Wood said, "Oh, I don't think there was ever anybody faster than Walter." Johnson, whether being as usual self-effacing or literal, did say Wood could throw as hard as he could for two or three innings, but his delivery put much strain on his arm. Johnson had a speed 6.1 MPH faster than anyone measured with the photo-electric system (used occasionally in the 1910s through 1930s), but Wood when tested in 1917 had already had a career-changing injury.
Late in the 1917 season, Wood was sold to the Cleveland Indians, where he rejoined former teammate Tris Speaker. Always proficient with the bat, Wood embarked on a second career as an outfielder. His former Boston teammate Babe Ruth, would make a similar position change a season later in 1919.
Early in the 1918 season, Wood was struggling to establish himself as a regular player. But in a 19-inning game on May 24 against the Yankees at the Polo Grounds, Wood hit two home runs, including the eventual game-winner in the 19th, and in Wood's words, "the worst was finally over."
Establishing himself as a solid if not stellar player, Wood finished in the top 10 in the American League in runs batted in in two seasons (1918 and 1922), and in 1918 he also finished in the top ten in home runs, doubles, batting average and total bases. Wood pitched seven more times, all but one game in relief, winning none and losing one. He also appeared in four games in the 1920 World Series.
Red Sox star Ted Williams, as a guest on the Bill Stern's The Colgate Sports Newsreel radio program in 1950, told the story that Wood was posing as a girl on a girls' team when the Red Sox signed him. The story ended: "The pitcher I'm talking about was the immortal Smoky Joe Wood. A pitcher who can never be forgotten even though he did get his start posing as a girl".
Decades later, in 1981, Wood was present at a historic pitcher's duel between Yale University and Saint John's University, featuring future major leaguers (and teammates) Ron Darling and Frank Viola. Darling threw 11 no-hit innings for Yale, matched by Viola's 11 shutout innings for St. John's. Wood, sitting in the stands, recalled Ty Cobb and said, "A lot of fellows in my time shortened up on the bat when they had to – that's what the St. John's boys should try against this good pitcher." Darling lost the no-hitter and the game in the 12th, and Wood called it the best baseball game he had ever seen. The account was recorded in Roger Angell's 1982 book Late Innings, and, later, in the anthology Game Time: A Baseball Companion.
In 1981, Lawrence Ritter and Donald Honig included him in their book The 100 Greatest Baseball Players of All Time. They explained what they called "the Smoky Joe Wood Syndrome", where a player of truly exceptional talent but a career curtailed by injury should still, in spite of not having had career statistics that would quantitatively rank him with the all-time greats, be included on their list of the 100 greatest players. Wood was also interviewed for Ritter's famous 1966 book, The Glory of Their Times.
In 1984, Wood received a standing ovation on Old Timers Day at Fenway Park in Boston, some 72 years after his memorable season. Aged 94, he said he was happy that Boston remembered him as "Smoky."
Wood died in West Haven, Connecticut on July 27, 1985. He was buried in Shohola Township, Pennsylvania. In 1995, he was selected to the Boston Red Sox Hall of Fame. On August 27, 2005, the Society for American Baseball Research's Connecticut Chapter named itself the Connecticut Smoky Joe Wood SABR Chapter.
In 2013, Gerald C. Wood's biography, Smoky Joe Wood: The Biography of a Baseball Legend, was published by the University of Nebraska Press.
Currently, Smoky Joe Wood is 132 years, 2 months and 26 days old. Smoky Joe Wood will celebrate 133rd birthday on a Tuesday 25th of October 2022.
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