A 6’6″ stringbean with a wicked sidearm delivery, Blackwell was virtually unhittable for righthanded batters as the ball seemed to explode at them from third base. As a Reds rookie in 1946 he had only a 9-13 record but a NL-leading six shutouts, and he started a record streak of six straight All-Star Game pitching appearances (later tied by Early Wynn). In 1947 he was dubbed The Whip, as he led the NL in wins (22-8), complete games (23), and strikeouts (193) for the fifth-place Reds. His 16 consecutive wins set a NL mark for righthanders. He came very close to tying teammate Johnny Vander Meer‘s 1939 feat of back-to-back no-hitters. On the night of June 18, he no-hit the Braves; in his next outing he held the Dodgers hitless into the ninth before Eddie Stanky‘s one-out, broken-bat single.
Arm miseries the next couple of years took the snap out of “The Whip.” In 1950 (when he won the All-Star Game) and ’51, he came back partway with 17 and 16 wins, but his arm problems returned. He was 3-12 in 1952 when the Reds traded him to the Yankees on August 28. “I wish it could have been earlier in my career,” he said later. “There was no great difference between the two leagues, but I’d have to say it was easier pitching in Yankee Stadium.” Down the stretch for New York he pitched 16 innings while surrendering just one run and won his only decision. He started the fifth game of the WS and surrendered four runs in five innings (no decision). The next season, he had two wins before his arm problems led to his retirement in mid-season (he had a two-game comeback with the A’s in 1955).