Cy Blanton

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Darrell Elijah Blanton

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Biographical Information[edit]

“[Blanton] is the hardest pitcher in the league for an umpire to handle... He has to be on his toes every minute. Almost every ball he throws has something on it... The deliveries vary so much that you have to have eagle eyes to tell whether the pitch is breaking over the corner at the legal height or below the knees.” - Dolly Stark, NL umpire, to the Altoona [PA] Tribune, March 6, 1936

Cy Blanton was known for his breaking pitches, one of which he named "Dewdrop" due to its lightning-like drop when crossing the plate. Many close to him felt that he could have been a great pitcher if not for his fondness for alcohol.

Cy broke in with the Western Association Shawnee Robins in 1930, going 12-16 in 44 games in his first year in the minors. He pitched for seven more minor league teams, his best year coming when he was 21-7 for the St. Joseph Saints of the Western League. In the Western League-Mississippi Valley series after the season he struck out 19 Davenport batters in the 4th game, September 27. This performance enticed the Pittsburgh Pirates to purchase his contract in 1933. Cy spent the most of 1934 with the International League's Albany Senators but made his first appearance with the Pirates on September 23rd, starting and pitching eight innings in a 3-2 win over the Chicago Cubs.

Back with the Pirates in 1935, Blanton became the outstanding rookie pitcher in the majors, going 18-13 with a National League-leading 2.58 ERA. He made his first All-Star Game appearance in 1937, leading the NL in starts while finishing 14-12 with a 3.30 ERA and 143 strikeouts, his last season in triple figures. In 1939, he tore ligaments in his elbow throwing a no-hitter during an exhibition game against the Cleveland Indians on Easter Sunday in New Orleans and was never the same afterwards. On May 21, 1940, after six seasons in the "Steel City" with a 58-51 record, he was released and became a free agent. The Philadelphia Phillies immediately signed him in the hopes that a change of scenery would help him. Unfortunately, it was not to be. Blanton was a mere shadow of himself at this point in his career. Arm injuries and the fast life where taking their toll. The best he could do with the Phils was a 4-3 mark in his first season in 1940, followed by a miserable 6-13 in 1941 after he had been named the team's Opening Day starter. His 0-4 record in 1942 earned him a pink slip on June 12th. Blanton tried to regain his old form with the Pacific Coast League Hollywood Stars, going 9-9 in 1943 and 4-5 in 1944. But on March 27, 1945, he was suspended by Hollywood management for breaking training rules, having failed to get in shape since arriving at spring training.

By this time in life, Blanton's way of life had begun taking a toll on him. Amazingly, he got a letter from Uncle Sam, asking him to report for pre-induction tests. Of course he did not pass, and in fact was recommended by doctors to get more tests and treatment. Cy returned home to Oklahoma, where he was eventually admitted to the Central State Hospital in Norman, OK on August 31st. The painful end came on September 13, 1945, just 13 days after entering the hospital. He was just 37 years old.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 2-time NL All-Star (1937 & 1941)
  • NL ERA Leader (1935)
  • 2-time NL Shutouts Leader (1935 & 1936)
  • 15 Wins Seasons: 1 (1935)
  • 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 3 (1935-1937)

Sources[edit]

Baseball-Reference.com
Frank Russo and Gene Racz Book
SABR MILB Database:page

Related Sites[edit]