Eppa Rixey was an atypical ball player for his era, coming to the big leagues from the University of Virginia after graduating in 1912 with a degree in chemistry.
The left-hander’s talents were spotted by National League umpire Cy Rigler, who was a part of the baseball and basketball staff at the university. Rixey played for both teams at UVA – and thanks to Rigler’s recommendation, Rixey was brought up to the Philadelphia Phillies in 1912 without ever having spent any time in the minor leagues. During the offseason, Rixey went back to school to get his master’s in chemistry, also studying math and Latin.
Rixey won 11 games in 1915, helping the Phillies win the National League pennant. However, after leaving baseball in 1918 to serve in World War I with the Chemical Warfare Division in Europe, Rixey struggled initially in his return -- going 17-34 in 1919-20. But a trade to the Cincinnati Reds on Nov. 22, 1920, revived Rixey's career. The Phillies received Jimmy Ring and future Pro Football Hall of Fame coach Greasy Neale in the trade. Cincinnati got a future Hall of Famer as well.
Starting in 1921, Rixey put together an eight-year stretch where he averaged 18 wins and 274 innings pitched to go with a 3.12 ERA. He won 20 or more games in a season three times three times in those years, racking up eight consecutive winning seasons.
In 1921, Rixey allowed only one home run in the 301 innings he pitched. In 1922, he led the league with 25 wins and 313.1 innings.
After winning 19 games and working 291.1 innings during his age-37 season in 1928, Rixey transitioned into a spot starter and reliever.Between July 24 and Aug. 28, 1932 – at the age of 41 – Rixey worked 27 consecutive scoreless innings.
Rixey retired with a career record of 266-251 over 21 seasons. He posted a 3.15 lifetime ERA and completed 290 games. Rixey’s win total stood as the National League record for left-handed pitchers until Warren Spahn topped it in 1959.
Rixey was elected to the Hall of Fame on Jan 27, 1963. He passed away one month later on Feb 28, 1963.