DerryNews.com, Derry, New Hampshire

Opinion

September 26, 2013

Column: Pitcher learned the importance of good dental hygiene

It’s September, so its time for my annual baseball story. And once again I honor George “Lefty” Tyler. He was born in Derry in 1889 and attended Pinkerton Academy before being drafted into pro-baseball. In 1910, he began pitching for the Boston Braves of the National League. In 1914, he was part of a legendary three-pitcher rotation of the “Miracle Braves” that won the World Series in four straight games. All that biographical stuff you may have already known but here is something about Lefty’s life you probably never knew.

In 1918, he was pitching for the Chicago Cubs and was having a fantastic year. He won 19 games and lost only 9. That year in the league, he tied for first in shutouts, second in wins and fourth in winning percentage with an ERA of 2.0. He helped the Cubs win the pennant that year. Lefty pitched very well in the World Series but the Cubs (as usual) managed to snatch defeat out of the jaws of victory and lost to the Red Sox, led by Babe Ruth.

The next year, Cub’s president William Veeck (it rhymes with “wreck”) wanted to do better and told his manager Fred Mitchell to push his players hard. In early April, the players were called to spring training in Pasadena, Calif. Lefty felt very confident that he would even top last year’s stellar pitching performance. After pitching a few innings he began to notice a sore spot at the top of his arm. He dismissed the pain as being nothing more then being out of shape after the winter’s off-season. Lefty was sure it’d go away in a few days.

As spring training progressed the pain grew worse. Lefty refused to let it stop him and he kept pitching. Tyler won his first game against St. Louis 4-1. Each pitch was torturous but he kept hurling without complaint. Five days later he pitched against the Pirates but had to walk off the mound after a few innings; the pain had become so bad he had to bench himself. Lefty was ordered by Mitchell to rest his arm for a couple of weeks. He pitched a few more games but in June he was mercifully benched for the rest of the season. Many fans wondered if he would ever come back to the mound.

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