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Thursday September 16, 2010 9:16 pm

Tom Zachary’s pitch to Babe Ruth will forever live in infamy




Posted by Adrien Griffin Categories: Athletes, MLB,

Tom ZacharyTom Zachary was a pitcher. He wasn’t a particularly astonishing pitcher, but he wasn’t outright terrible either. He pitched for seven different teams between 1918 and 1936 and racked up an incredibly average 186-191 record with a 3.73 ERA and 720 strikeouts. His best season came in 1921 with the Washington Senators when he recorded 18 wins. He won two World Series titles, first in 1924 with the Senators then again in 1928 with the Yankees.

These are all meaningless stats; virtually lost in baseball’s extended history, but on September 24, 1927, Zachary threw a pitch that would not only be remembered for decades, it has turned him into the trivia answer of a lifetime.  With a runner on base, Zachary hurled a baseball to one George Herman Ruth, who turned on the pitch and put it over the fence, becoming the first hitter to ever hit 60 home runs in a season and setting a record that wouldn’t be broken for 34 years.

When Zachary’s career ended in 1936, he returned to his home state of North Carolina and lived on a tobacco farm. During the Great Depression, he would give low-interest loans to struggling local farmers. He lived until 1969 when, at the age of 72, he suffered a stroke and passed away. The New York Times ran an obituary for him with a headline that simply read “Tom Zachary, Pitcher, Is Dead; Served Ruth’s 60th Home Run.”

In a sport where individual accomplishments mean almost as much as team success, it’s easy to forget that every good fortune a player has comes at the expense of another player. Zachary’s career was forever etched in the sands of time with a single pitch and his name lives on with guys like Tracy Stallard, Steve Trachsel and Mike Bacsik. For every record-setting home run, there’s going to be a pitcher responsible for serving it up, but none may be as noteworthy as Tom Zachary.

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