Monday, April 30, 2012

C’mon, Willard, Cheer Up!

Willard Nixon always seemed a little sad.   I’m not sure why.  I mean, the guy was known as a – perhaps “the” – Yankee killer.  In 1955, for example, a quarter of his 12 wins were against the Yankees.  The Evil Empire only scored four runs in five games against him.  If that’s not enough to make someone happy, I’m not sure what is.  C’mon, Willard, you are one special guy!

Things seem to have started out just fine.  This is Willard’s rookie card, a 1951 Bowman.

Ah, your first year in the bigs.  You made the majors, started 15 games for the Sox, and finished with a record of 8-6.  The ol’ ERA is a tad high (over 6.00), but that’s okay.  Life is good.

1952, another good year.  Willard got 14 starts, won seven, and got that pesky ERA down under 5.00.  Keep smilin', bud!

1953.  I have no idea what happened.  Something traumatic though.  Something that obviously scarred him for life.  There’ll be no more smiles for Willard Nixon from here on out.

The stats look fine, by the way.  Willard started 13, went 5-4, and shaved that ERA down just a tad more.

1954.  Still glum.  Almost a little angry perhaps.

It’s another good year on the books though.  Willard got the ol’ ERA below 4.00, on 15 starts.  Perhaps, though, it was the record after all.  For the first time, Nixon went under .500, finishing 4-8.


1955.  Maybe he’s just glaring at the batter. 

It’s another decent year.  In fact, it’s his best yet – 30 starts, one out short of 200 innings, and the only year he broke 100 Ks.

1956.  Man, what happened to this guy four years ago?  Did somebody shoot his dog?

Here we’ve got Willard’s best year yet.  12-10 record, respectable 4.07 ERA, and career bests in starts and innings.  C’mon, dude, lighten up a little.

1957.  Hopefully, he’s glaring at the batter again.  A little fall-off, stats-wise, but still just fine. 


1958.  Probably his best year ever.  12-13, 3.69 ERA, just short of 200 innings and 100 strikeouts.  You’d never know it from this sad-sack mug, though, would ya?

1959.  Well, well.  It looks like things are finally looking up for Willard Nixon. 

Wouldn’t you know though.  It’s his last year in the bigs.  It’s also a year that would put a depressed look on anybody else’s face.  I’m talking 1-7 record, 6.02 ERA, and a mere 15 strikeouts in 43 innings. 

After a year like that, it’s back to Floyd County, Georgia.  There, according to Wikipedia, Nixon “worked as a purchasing agent for Pepperell Mills, was a county court investigator and the county chief of police, and also served as transportation director for the county school system.” 

Now, there’s something to get excited about.  Heck, maybe this guy just plain didn’t like baseball.  Y'know what I mean?  Sheesh!

* - author has this card

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