Apr 23, 2015

1954 World Champion New York Giants Pitcher: Jim Hearn (1950-1956)

Jim Tolbert Hearn was born on April 11, 1921 in Atlanta, Georgia. The big six foot, five inch right handed pitcher, was known as “Jumbo Jim” because of his size.

He attended Georgia Tech University and signed with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1942. Hearn then served three years in military service during World War II. He returned to pitch in the minor leagues by 1946, & making it to the Cardinal staff in 1947.

He had a solid rookie year pitching in 37 games going 12-7 with a 3.22 ERA. In 1948 he was 8-6, as his ERA rose to 4.22. He then struggled due to a lack of confidence over the next two seasons. getting placed on waivers in mid 1950.

The New York Giants picked him up and their pitching coach, Frank Shellenback, taught him to throw a sinker ball. Hearn improved to become one of the league’s top pitchers the rest of the season.

He went 11-4 and led the league in ERA (2.49) & shut outs (5). He struck out 58 batters , his highest season total so far, pitching in 134 innings allowing 44 walks.

In the Giants 1951 Pennant season, he won 17 games (ninth in the league) as the number three man in a sensational rotation, behind twenty game winners Sal Maglie & Larry Jansen. His .654 winning % & 34 starts were both sixth best in the league.

From July through the end of the season he was 11-4 throwing four complete games lowering his ERA by over a run. In that stretch he pitched six complete games & beat the rival Brooklyn Dodgers three times against two losses. Hearn helped the Giants in their remarkable comeback from 13½-games behind Brooklyn to catch the Dodgers & force a three game playoff.

According to Hearn: ''The only pressure was on the pitching staff, we were just plain worn out; our arms were hanging dead. In those last four games of the season we gave up a total of four runs, pitching with two days' rest. That, to me, is the Miracle of Coogan's Bluff.''

Post Season: Hearn was the starting pitcher of Game #1 of the 1951 playoffs, played at Ebbetts Field, Hearn had a ligament strain in his side. After each inning, the team trainer would apply hot ointment to ease the pain.

In that first game Hearn beat Ralph Branca & the Dodgers 3-1. He pitched a five hit complete game, allowing just one run, which was a solo HR to Andy Pafko. In the final game he was warming up in the bullpen as Bobby Thompson hit his dramatic game winning pennant clinching HR.

Hearn remembers: ''I saw Duke Snider on his knees in center, pounding his glove on the grass. That's when I took off for home plate. It was just the greatest thrill of my life.''

In the 1951 World Series, Hearn was the winner in Game #3 at the Polo Grounds. Although he walked eight batters in 7.2 innings of work, he only allowed one run. He pitched in two Series games allowing only the one earned run in 8.2 innings of work, good enough for a 1.04 ERA.

In 1952 Hearn came back to win 14 games going 14-7, while coming in the league's top ten in wins again. He posted a 3.78 ERA although he gave up a lot of hits (208) walks (97) & runs (113) among the most in the league.

He was also the league’s top fielding pitcher with a perfect .1000 fielding %. He pitched in 223 innings (tenth in the league) & made his first All Star appearance. As the Giants fell to fifth place in 1953 Hearn posted a 9-12 losing record.

In the 1954 Championship season, Hearn pitched both as a starter & reliever going 8-8 with two shut outs & a save. He did not pitch in the World Series sweep of the Cleveland Indians.

In 1955 Hearn came back to win 14 games (5th in the league) but lost 16 (2nd most in the league). He pitched a career high 226 innings, posting a 3.73 ERA while striking 86 batters.

That season he hit two HRs at the plate, one was an inside the parker. Interestingly since 1955 only eight pitchers have hit inside the park HRs, Hearn himself hit two in his career.

After falling to 5-11 in 1956 he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies where he pitched for three seasons as a reliever. In his seven seasons in New York he went 78-56 with a 3.81 ERA getting to two World Series. In three seasons with the Phillies he was 10-4 with three saves.

On May 10th, 1959 while pitching in a relief in a game that would be suspended he he tore a back ligament. At age 38 he was given his release & forced to retire. That suspended game resumed two weeks later & Hearn became the pitcher of record even though he was no longer active.

Overall in his 13 season career, Hearn went 109- 89 with eight saves. He posted a 3.81 ERA, striking out 669 batters while walking 665 in 1703 innings pitching in 396 games.

Retirement: Hearn was an excellent golfer, and after his baseball career opened a golf school in Atlanta, Georgia. After retiring to Florida, he passed away in 1998 at age 77 in Boca Grande, Florida.

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