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History Lessons

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I think of myself as a young fan- I grew up amid the latest Yankee dynasty, and while I've spent a lot of time reading and writing about the Yankees, I'm still pretty ignorant of general baseball history.

Case in point: I'd never heard of Wilbur Wood (or didn't remember him) until IggyPopTart brought him up in a recent discussion.

So for all of us young fans, I'm turning to the rest of the PA community for history lessons.

Pick a non-Hall of Fame All-Star who never played for the Yankees, and tell us why we should know him. What were his vitals (who did he play for and when, what was his best season(s))? Did something make him different from other players on or off the field? Why did you enjoy or hate seeing him play baseball?

For my example, what I learned today was that Wilbur Wood was a lefty knuckleballer who struggled as a reliever with the Pirates and Red Sox, until he was traded to the White Sox. The great knuckleballer Hoyt Wilhelm told Wilbur to throw his knuckleball exclusively, and not rely on this other pitches. Wood's career took off, and when the ChiSox moved him to the rotation at age 29 for the '71 season, he threw 334 innings (after a previous career high of 121- take that Joba Rules!).

He threw 320+ IP for 4 straight years and added another 291 IP in '75. He was an All-Star in '71, '72 and '74, and '72 he lost the Cy Young to Gaylord Perry by a difference of 1 first place vote.

In May of 1976, he was hit in the kneecap by a line drive from Ron LeFlore. Many thought that Wood's career was over, but he fought through rehab and was back on the mound in '77. He wasn't the same though, and retired after the '78 season, having recorded an ERA over 5 and a WHIP above 1.5 after his injury.