Monday, September 21, 2015

205. Paul Derringer: More Peaks and Valleys Than Red River Gorge

This week I wanted to showcase a large illustration I recently completed of Paul Derringer. Besides wanting to bring the old Reds ace to life in full color, I also looked forward to re-creating the scoreboard and factories that formed the outfield walls of Crosley Field. Turned out to be one of my favorite drawings...

One would think a pitcher with a record of 7-27 would find himself back in the minor leagues, right? Not Paul Derringer - he got a $2,500 raise. In 1933, the year he put up those terrible stats, Derringer had an ERA of 3.30, better than league average, and his walks and home runs allowed per inning was among the lowest in both leagues. 

Paul Derringer’s career had more dramatic peaks and valleys than Kentucky's Red River Gorge. He came from Springfield, the son of a prosperous Kentucky tobacco farmer and former baseball player. Built like a line backer and over six feet tall, Derringer had a blazing fastball delivered with a dizzying leg kick and pin-point control. By 1931 he was pitching for the Cardinals where the rookie won 18 games as St. Louis went to the World Series. Then he had the misfortune of going from the best team in the National League to the worst when he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds. That’s the season he lost 27 games. 

Derringer was a surly fellow and he often ended arguments with his fists. His decade-long feud with former Cardinals teammate Dizzy Dean culminated in a full-blown on-field brawl in 1939. Perhaps due to all his pent-up rage (or maybe he was just tired of losing), Derringer began winning despite a lousy Reds ball club. In ‘36 he won 22 games and by 1938 the Reds had themselves a good ball club. Derringer’s 25-7 record in 1939 was the best winning percentage in the league as the Reds won their first pennant in twenty years. In 1940 the big right hander won 20 games and then 2 more in the World Series as Cincinnati won it all.

Derringer retired after his 16 wins helped the Cubs to their last pennant in 1945. He finished with 223 career wins and is the third most winningest pitcher in Cincinnati Reds history.

Those who have met me in person know I'm not the kind of guy to toot my own horn. In fact, much to my detriment, I'm lousy about promoting myself. That's why it's hard for me to ask this, but this is something that needs to be done: if you bought a copy of The League of Outsider Baseball, can you please take the time to write a review of it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble or Good Reads? It would mean a lot to me and most importantly give future publishers an idea of what the book reading public thinks of my work. Almost all of the existing reader's reviews have been flattering, but every once in a while some crackpot writes a clunker - like the creep on Good Reads that said I should have had someone who knows English write the copy (that was a surprise as Simon & Schuster's editing process is quite impressive and very rigorous). I for one often look at the reviews on those sites before I spend my money on a book. Reviews aren't the only thing I rely on in my purchasing process but it's certainly a factor, and that's why I'm asking you to please take the time to write your thoughts about my work.

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