Kirby Higbe

The title of Higbe’s autobiography, The High Hard One, describes his pitching style. He led the NL in walks four times (1939-41 and ’47). He also led with 137 strikeouts in 1940. After he went 14-19 for the last-place Phillies in 1940, both the Giants and Dodgers were after the young flamethrower. Brooklyn’s Larry MacPhail snatched Higbe by giving the financially troubled Phillies $100,000 and three players in return. Higbe was worth the price, joining teammate Whit Wyatt atop the NL with 22 wins in 1941 and leading the league with 48 games and 39 starts for the NL champs.

Higbe was ambivalent concerning the addition of Jackie Robinson to the Dodgers. Higbe had spent many hours throwing rocks at blacks while growing up in South Carolina, and he believed in segregation, telling Branch Rickey he preferred not to have to play with a “negruh.” But Higbe’s competitive nature made him respect the fiery Robinson. He didn’t have to worry about Robinson for long; he was traded to Pittsburgh on May 3, 1947.