Joseph Henry Nuxhall died on November 15, 2007, at the age of 79; he was an American left-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball, mostly for the Cincinnati Reds.
Born and raised in Hamilton, Ohio on July 30, 1928, during World War II, many regular baseball players were unavailable while serving in the military.
Meanwhile, Nuxhall was the biggest member of the ninth grade class in nearby Hamilton, Ohio at 6 feet 2 inches (1.88 m) and 190 pounds (86 kg)—a left-hander with a hard fastball, but not much control.
In 1942, after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt wrote to Baseball Commissioner Kenesaw Mountain Landis to ask that baseball continue even though the United States was going to war: “I honestly feel that it would be best for the country to keep baseball going.
There will be fewer people unemployed and everybody will work longer hours and harder than ever before.
And that means they ought to have a chance for recreation and for taking their minds off their work even more than before.” Landis obliged, and play continued even as the stars of the era left to enroll in the armed forces.
Detroit Tigers first baseman Hank Greenberg was among the players who had enlisted even before 1941, in the prime of his Hall of Fame career.
After the 1942 season, more than 500 big league players enlisted, including stars Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, Bob Feller, Dom DiMaggio and Pee Wee Reese.
He had already been playing in a semipro league with his father for a few years.
Scouts looking to fill out the Reds’ depleted roster were following Orville Nuxhall, Joe’s father, in 1943.
But they were informed that the elder Nuxhall wasn’t interested in signing a professional contract because of his five children.
Nuxhall remains the youngest person to play in a major league game in history.
During his lifetime, it was believed that a 14-year-old named Fred Chapman pitched five innings in one 1887 game.
However, in 2009, the Society for American Baseball Research discovered that this player’s name and age were both incorrect.
The 1887 player was actually named Frank Chapman, and he was 25 years old at the time of his only major league appearance.
There have also been sources listing Billy Geer, who played for the 1874 New York Mutuals of the National Association, as having a birth date in 1859, but this is questionable as well, as is whether the National Association was a major league.
On June 6, 2007, the Reds honoured Nuxhall, Marty Brennaman, and Waite Hoyt with replica microphones that hang on the wall near the radio booth.
At Redsfest in December, 2007 the Reds announced Nuxhall would be honoured throughout the 2008 baseball season, their uniforms would display a dark patch with the word “NUXY” printed in white.
On March 31, 2008, the Cincinnati Reds paid tribute to Nuxhall by wearing his #41 jersey for opening day.