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The story of the Yankees’ pitcher who never pitched

Larry McClure’s entire career consisted of playing out of position after someone else got injured.

Texas v Yankees Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

There are four position players in Yankees’ history who have played the field, but have never gotten a chance to hit, aka the “Moonlight Graham.” Larry McClure is not quite one of those stories. He has one career major league at-bat. The circumstances that got him that one plate appearance are just as strange as any Moonlight Graham-type story.

West Virginia native McClure was a pitcher signed out Amherst College by the then New York Highlanders in 1910. He had pitched several no-hitters at Amherst, but at 5’6” and 130 pounds, teams thought be might be a little too small. The Washington Senators potentially had interest in him, but the scout they sent to Amherst instead signed McClure’s catcher. However, the Highlanders decided to sign him in July 1910.

After a brief, confusing and possibly injured minor league career, McClure ended up joining the Highlanders’ roster in late July. On July 26th, McClure came into his first and only major league game. It was not as a pitcher.

In the first inning, Highlanders’ outfielder Harry Wolter broke a finger trying to catch to a Ty Cobb fly ball. The ball was supposedly hit so hard that the break hurt enough to cause Wolter to “stop in his tracks.” That allowed Cobb to come all the way around for an inside-the-park home run.

Another outfielder, Charlie Hemphill, was on the bench for the Highlanders that day. It’s not clear why Hemphill did not come in immediately, but the speculation is that he was hungover and not remotely ready to enter a game. Because of that, manager George Stallings sent in pitcher McClure to play left field.

McClure remained in the game and got an at-bat only because Wolter was due up second. He struck out against Wild Bill Donovan. Hemphill eventually came in to play the outfield and McClure never got in a major league game again. His career consisted of playing one at-bat in the field, and one at-bat at the plate.

The Highlanders kept McClure around and gave him another shot as a pitcher in 1911. However, a sore arm plagued him and he never made the team again.

After that, McClure got his law degree from West Virginia University and ended up as a partner in his own law firm. He coached the WVU baseball team and continued playing around that area, but never made it in pro ball.

Larry McClure was signed as a pitcher, but never got a chance to pitch. The only reason he made it into a game was because another player might have been hungover.