Making His Pitch

Infielder-turned-hurler Bucky Walters a Hall of Fame finalist

November 29, 2012
2013 Pre-Integration Committee candidate Bucky Walters. (NBHOF Library)

Bucky Walters didn’t become a full-time big league pitcher until he was 27 years old. But he quickly made up for the lost time.

Now, Walters could take his place with baseball’s all-time greats at the Hall of Fame.

Walters is one of 10 finalists on this year’s Pre-Integration Committee ballot at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. The Pre-Integration Committee will vote on Dec. 2 at baseball’s Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn., and the results of the vote will be announced Dec. 3.

The 10 candidates on the Pre-Integration Committee ballot are: Sam Breadon, Bill Dahlen, Wes Ferrell, Marty Marion, Tony Mullane, Hank O’Day, Alfred Reach, Jacob Ruppert, Deacon White and Walters. Any candidate who receives at least 75 percent of all ballots cast will be enshrined in the Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2013.

Born April 19, 1909, Walters was an All-Star pitcher who played for the Boston Braves (1931-32, 1950), Boston Red Sox (1933-1934), Philadelphia Phillies (1934-1938) and Cincinnati Reds (1938-1948). Known for his durability and good hitting, Walters spent five years as an infielder before making the change to pitching.

Walters was a six-time All-Star, and the 1939 National League MVP and Triple Crown Winner. During that season, he led the National League with 27 wins, a 2.29 ERA and 137 strikeouts.

Walters pitched 300 innings three years in a row (1939-41) and pitched in 39 games in back-to-back seasons in 1938 and 1939. He also led the league in complete games and innings pitched from 1939-1941.

Walters was the workhorse for two pennant-winning Reds teams in 1939 and 1940. In the 1940 World Series, Walters threw two complete games in two appearances with a 1.50 ERA, including a shutout in Game 6 to force a Game 7. The Reds beat the Tigers for the World Series Championship.

Walters finished his career with a 198-160 record and an ERA of 3.30. He started 398 games and had 242 complete games. He threw 3,104.2 innings in 16 seasons. He maintained a career batting average of .243.

Walters passed away on April 20, 1991.

Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum