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The less than stellar career of Skeeter Shelton

Skeeter Shelton played ten major league baseball games. They did not go well.

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at New York Yankees Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Playing in the major leagues at all is an accomplishment. Even if they only play in one game, that player still reached the highest level of baseball. For ten games, Skeeter Shelton played in the highest level of baseball. It just didn’t go great when he got there.

After playing both baseball and football at West Virginia University, Andrew Kemper Shelton began playing in the minor leagues in 1911. In the minors, Shelton was given the nickname “Skeeter” due to his speed.

He played parts of four seasons for the Columbus Senators in the American Association. In August 1915 with the Yankees nearby in Cleveland, outfielder Roy Hartzell was injured, and Shelton was brought in as his replacement.

Shelton made his major league debut August 25, 1915 against the Indians. He was slotted into the five spot in the lineup and went 0-5 in a 3-2 Yankees win. The following day Shelton was back in the lineup. He drew a walk, but went 0-4 otherwise. In the next three games, he went a combined 0-11 with one walk.

In his sixth career game, Shelton picked up his first major league hit: a single. That one hit would be the only one of Skeeter Shelton’s major league career, and not for lack of trying. He played four more games after that, going 0-18 and never reaching base again.

Shelton’s final major league triple slash lines are .025/.071/.025. He has the lowest batting average ever among position players with at least one hit. By accounts of the day, Shelton was a solid fielding center fielder. Fielding percentage can obviously be deceiving, but he did he did finish with one of 1.000.

In modern day metrics, Shelton managed to put up -0.9 Baseball Reference WAR in 43 plate appearances. Fangraphs is a little more kind at -0.8. He also finished with a -69 wRC+.

Despite playing five full games before getting a hit, Shelton was never moved from the five spot in the batting order. Rookies usually start lower than that in the order in current times. A rookie would definitely be moved from fifth if they went 0-19 in their first five games.

Shelton played all ten of his games on the road, and never got the chance to play in New York. After his final game on September 1st, he returned to Columbus and finished the 1915 season there. He played one last season in minor league baseball the following year.

In his later life, Shelton became an attorney, and later coached baseball at West Virginia and baseball and football at Marshall. He died in 1954.

Skeeter Shelton was probably at least partially given the chance with the Yankees because he was nearby. It may not have gone how he wanted, but he played major league baseball, and that’s cool.


Data courtesy of the Baseball Reference Play Index