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Called Up

Tommy Byrne passed away today.

A Baltimore product who grew up idolizing Babe Ruth, Byrne was signed by the Yankees in 1940 and debuted in New York in 1943. He pitched two stints with the Bombers, winning 15 games in both 1949 and '50 before returning to win a career-high 16 games in 1955.

Byrne's erratic control earned him the nickname "Wild Man." Byrne walked 179 batters in 1949 and 160 batters in 1950, and despite his high win totals in both seasons, he was dealt to the St. Louis Browns in June 1951 for left-handed pitcher Stubby Overmire....

After spending time with the Washington Senators and Chicago White Sox, Byrne returned to the Yankees in 1954 at Stengel's urging and finished his career in New York, pitching a complete-game victory in Game 2 of the 1955 World Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers.

Byrne's career is in many ways a testament to the way talent evaluation has changed in the last 50 years. I often say "I want the best relievers, regardless of which hand they throw with." Byrne struck out more men than he walked only once (1954, 24:19 in 40 IP).

And still, he had the chance to make his living playing a child's game.