We were discussing Reds no-hitters a few weeks ago and a question arose about Hod Eller’s shortened career.

Eller was an ace for the Reds 1919 World Series championship team. In his third professional season, he went 19-9 with a 2.39 ERA and seven shut outs, including a no-hitter. He won two games in the 1919 World Series, hurling two complete games, walking two and striking out 15. However, he only played two more seasons, finishing his career with a 60-40 record and a 2.62 ERA at age 26.

Eller’s out pitch was a “shineball,’ which means a foreign subject was applied to the ball, changing the ball’s shape and making it break wildly. For example, curve ball pitchers prefer balls with higher seams so that they could use the seams to make the ball break away from the hitter more.

Baseball began outlawing foreign substances after Yankee Carl Mays (who later pitched for the Reds) struck Indian Ray Chapman in the temple with a pitch in 1920. Chapman died the next day.

It’s said that Eller didn’t adjust well to the change, but in 1920 he went 13-12 with a 2.95 ERA. However, his strikeout/walk ratio (K/W) dropped from 2.74 in 1919 to to 1.46 in 1920, and his strikeouts per nine inning ratio (K/9) went from 5.0 to 3.3. He tore ligaments in his elbow and retired from pitching.

Information used for this story was found from the book “Reds in Black and White” by Greg Rhodes and Mark Stang and from baseball-reference.com.

One Response

  1. Glenn

    Love the historical stuff Steve. Keep it coming. Thanks