19.9.05

Bespectacled pioneers

All right, you can’t compare these guys with Jackie Robinson. But they were pioneers just like him and they deserve some recognition.

The first player to wear glasses in the Majors was pitcher Will White. From 1877 to 1886, he won 229 games in the National League and American Association , posting a 2.28 career ERA. He was a curveball pitcher.

Baseball glasses barrier was broken again in april 1915, when pitcher Lee Meadows and became the first bespectacled player of the 20th century. Meadows was a sidearmer with a spitball. He went 188-180 in 15 seasons with the Cards, Phillies and Pirates. He started for the Pirates in the first game of the World Series in 1925 and 1927, losing both times. Another bespectacled pitcher, Carmen Hill, started his big league career with the Pirates in august 1951. Hill pitched 10 years in the Majors, mostly as a reliever, going 49-33. He went 22-11 an 16-10 as a starter for the Pirates in 1927 and 1928. Lee Meadows and Carmen Hill played together for the Pirates from 1926 to 1929.

In 1921, George "Specs" Toporcer became the first position player to wear glasses on the field. He played 8 seasons with the Saint-Louis Cardinals as a utility man, posting a .279 career average. He lost his eyesight in 1951 while managing in the International League.

In 1951, Clint Courtney became the first bespectacled catcher with the Yankees. He played just one game for the Yankees but stayed in the Majors for 11 seasons, playing for the Saint-Louis Browns, Baltimore Orioles, Chicago White Sox, Washington Senators and Kansas City Athletics. He’s a career .268 hitter.

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