June 10 in sports history: 'Scared' 15-year-old makes MLB debut
In 1944, 15-year-old Joe Nuxhall posed for photographers with Reds manager Bill McKechnie.  Getty Images

June 10 in sports history: 'Scared' 15-year-old makes MLB debut

Here's a look back at notable sports news on June 10 through the years


1944: Think about what you were doing when you were 15. Perhaps you were preparing for your prom. Or maybe you were mowing your parents' lawn or heading off to your part-time gig at the fast-food restaurant.

Cincinnati pitcher Joe Nuxhall, 15 years, 10 months and 11 days old, was making his debut in the big leagues against the powerhouse St. Louis Cardinals.

Yikes.

In the midst of World War II, major league teams were scrambling to fill out depleted rosters, with many young men serving overseas. Four days earlier, Allied forces landed in France on D-Day. 

Nuxhall, who was still in junior high, wasn't even shaving yet. But with the Reds trailing 13-0, the left-hander was called on in relief in the ninth inning  — thus becoming the youngest player in big league history. Described as a "husky portsider" by the Cincinnati Enquirer, he pitched 2/3 of an inning, allowing five runs and two hits and walking five. Cincinnati lost, 18-0 — its most one-sided shutout loss since 1906.

“I was scared to death,” Nuxhall told The Associated Press decades later. “I got all shook up and tripped over the top step and fell flat on my face in the dirt.” St. Louis' lineup featured future Hall of Famer Stan Musial, who, at 23, was an old man compared to Nuxhall.

"We didn't sign this kid just for the sake of saying we had the youngest boy the majors have ever known," Reds manager Bill McKechnie told the Dayton Daily News before Nuxhall's MLB baptism. "He's a big boy and he can throw that ball hard. But there's only one way to find out if he can pitch, and that's to pitch him."

Wrote Daily News sports columnist Si Burick:

"I felt sorry for the kid, and so, I presume, did McKechnie, who after the fifth walk, the second hit, and the fifth run decided enough was enough. Which it was. What the future holds for Joe, I don't know. He's young and he's powerful and Bob Feller didn't have much besides youth and power at the start either."

Nuxhall didn't play again that season, and he didn't play at all in 1945. He returned to the big leagues in 1952. Nuxhall finished his major league career, mostly with the Reds, with a 135-117 record.

1977: In the second round of the Danny Thomas Memphis Classic, Al Geiberger became the first player in history to post a score of 59 in a PGA Tour-sanctioned event. 

"The gallery started coming to me around the 16th. It was good to see them out there. But it was frightening, too," said Geiberger, who won the tournament. "I kept telling myself, 'Oh, my God, they're all watching me.' "

HOME RUN KINGS ...

1921: With his 17th dinger of the season and 120th of his career, 26-year-old Babe Ruth of the Yankees became MLB's all-time home run king, surpassing Gavvy Cravath. Ruth, who finished his career with 714 homers, held the big league HR record until it was broken by Hank Aaron in 1974.

1974: Philadelphia's Mike Schmidt hit some monster shots during a 16-year big league career that included 548 home runs. The future Hall of Famer's blast in a 12-0  win against the Astros was one to behold. In the first inning against Claude Osteen, Schmidt smashed — and we do mean smashed -- a fastball off the speaker attached to the roof in center field in the Astrodome.

The ball was still climbing when it struck the thing, about 117 feet in the air and 360 feet from home plate. It bounced into right field, where Greg Gross fielded it and held Schmidt to a single. No one thought a ball could be hit that far in the ballpark, so there were no ground rules to cover it. 

Astros manager Pedro Gomez said it was the hardest hit fly ball he had ever seen. "I'm sorry that ball didn't go all the way," Schmidt told the Philadelphia Daily News. "You may never hit another one like that in your lifetime."

Added Phillies manager Danny Ozark: "You kind of look up there at the damn thing hanging way up there and you tell yourself, 'No way.' It's like making a hole-in-one on a 400-yard hole. You don't even entertain the possibility."

... AND THEN THERE'S THIS GUY

1995: In the second inning of the Orioles' 6-2 win over the Angels, Baltimore's Jeff Manto homered — the fourth consecutive official at-bat he went yard. The streak spanned three games. In his nine-year career in the big leagues, Manto hit only 31 home runs.

1984: The Celtics had champagne on ice, and legendary Boston GM Red Auerbach had one of his trademark cigars ready to light. The Lakers, however, had other ideas.

In an epic seven-game series that matched Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, the Lakers won Game 6 in L.A., 119-108. 

"You hear a lot about Celtic tradition and Celtic pride," Lakers center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar told reporters afterward. "We have some proud athletes, too. They're not the only team with pride."

"The cataclysmic Game 7 is tomorrow night in the Boston Garden," the Boston Globe's Dan Shaughnessy wrote, "and hoop historians from around the globe have been summoned to evaluate and determine if this might be the NBA's finest hour."

Boston won Game 7, 111-102. The Earth remained on its axis.

A LONG NIGHT AT RINK

1996: In the Stanley Cup Final in Miami, defenseman Uwe Krupp's goal at the 4:31 mark in triple-overtime gave the Colorado Avalanche a 1-0 win over Florida Panthers and a four-game sweep. "I leaned into it and got a little juice on it," Krupp said of the winning shot, a blast from the right point, "and it kind of found its way through." 

ALSO ...

1979: Donna Caponi Young won her third major LPGA title, beating former school teacher Jerilyn Britz by three strokes at the LPGA Championship Women's Golf championship. Her prize money: $22,500. Prize money for tournament champion Hannah Green in 2019: $577,500

2018:  In Paris, Rafael Nadal defeated Dominic Thiem of Austria for his record 11th French Open title and 17th Grand Slam victory. Nadal had an anxious moment in the third set when the middle finger of his racket-wielding hand cramped up. "I was very scared," he told reporters following the 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 blowout.

Happy birthday ... 

  • Former NFL quarterback Dan Fouts, 15-year veteran of the Chargers. The Hall of Famer was the 1982 Offensive Player of the Year, a six-time Pro-Bowler and a two-time All-Pro. He was recently let go from his job doing NFL color commentary on CBS as part of the No. 2 team. (69)
  • Brent Sutter, one of six members of the famous NHL family. Sutter played for the Islanders and Blackhawks over his 18-year career, winning two Stanley Cups.  (58) 
  • Ken Singleton, former MLB outfielder and DH and current member of the Yankees broadcast team. Singleton was a three-time All-Star and won a World Series with the Orioles. (73)
  • Tara Lipinski, Olympic and world champion figure skater. At 15, Lipiniski became the youngest skater to win Olympic gold, at the 1998 Winter Games in Japan. (38) 

R.I.P: 

1985 and 1995: MLB broadcast icons Bob Prince and Lindsey Nelson. Prince, "The Gunner," was the beloved voice of the Pirates for more than 25 years. Nelson, known for his loud clothing, provided play-by-play for the New York Mets for 17 years and also had nationwide recognition for his college football broadcasts. Prince died of cancer at 68; Nelson died of Parkinson’s disease at 76.

2016: “Mr. Hockey” Gordie Howe, whose 26 seasons in the NHL are tied for the most in the league. Howe’s accomplishments include 801 goals, second most all time, and 1,850 points, fourth all time. He was 88.

2001: John McKay, who coached USC to four national championships. McKay moved to the NFL to become the first coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where he gained a reputation for colorful news conferences. He died of kidney failure at 77.


June 9: 'There won't be another one like him'

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