• Kurtis Tatkenhorst

June 10- Joe Nuxhall makes his Major League debut at 15 years old in 1944

Updated: Jun 12, 2020

1944- On this day in Sports History, Joe Nuxhall became the youngest player in history to debut in a Major League Baseball game. At 15 years and 316 days old, Nuxhall entered the game as a relief pitcher for the Cincinnati Reds. Today, a typical 15 year old would be a freshman playing high school baseball, but Nuxhall already was making his debut in the big leagues.

The MLB in 1944 was in a special situation that made a 15 year old kid’s debut in the big leagues possible. The world was in the middle of World War II and all of the American’s focus went to the war effort. That included the MLB players as over 500 of them would enlist into the Army. President Roosevelt made it known that he wanted baseball to continue as it would help the morale of the nation and allow people to relax while watching a ball game. As hundreds of MLB players went to war, the MLB teams had to make do with the players they could find. The Red’s had gone to a semi-pro game that Joe Nuxhall and his father were both playing in. They’d originally planned on signing the father, but ended up signing the 15 year old son instead. The Reds signed him for $175 a month plus a $500 signing bonus. Although he signed in February, he had to wait until school got out in June before he could join the team.

It was on this day in 1944 that Nuxhall actually made his Major League debut. He entered the game for the Reds as a relief pitcher in the 9th inning as they trailed the St. Louis Cardinals 13-0. The Cardinals, who ended up winning the 1944 World Series, took advantage of facing a 15 year old on the mound. Nuxhall actually got out two of the first three batters, but failed to make it out of the innings. He got taken out after giving up five runs on five walks and two hits. This game will likely remain in the record books forever as it involved the youngest player to ever play in a Major League Baseball game.

Joe Nuxhall’s major league debut on this date in 1944 would be his only appearance in the big leagues for the rest of the year. It wouldn’t be until 1952 when he would see the big leagues again. This time, 23 year old Nuxhall performed well enough to stay. He lasted 15 seasons in the MLB. After retiring in 1967, he went straight to broadcasting for the Cincinnati Red’s which he did until 2004.


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Sources:

Borgemenke, Ryan. Joe Nuxhall, Society for American Baseball Research

“Joe Nuxhall Makes MLB Debut at 15.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 16 Nov. 2009

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