Continued from page 1

When Giants scout Dick Kinsella spotted Hubbell working for Beaumont in the Class AA Texas League in 1928, he recommended him immediately to legendary Giants manager John McGraw, who let him use the unorthodox pitch. Hub showed his gratitude by going 10-6 for New York that season and blossomed into a star the following year with an 18-11 record.

Even when Hubbell was mowing down batters, he didn’t look much like a star. Carl was 6-feet tall, gaunt and had angular, Lincoln-esque features. His left hand turned sharply outward from the strain of twisting it to dispatch thousands of screwballs. And as the Tigers had feared, Hubbell began to experience arm trouble in 1934, the season of his All-Star exploits.

“After I pitched a game that season, it would swell up at night and still be swollen and sore the next afternoon,” he once said. “But after I warmed up a little, the stiffness would leave and the swelling would go down. I had some X-rays taken, and they showed I had bone chips floating around in there.”

The physical woes finally caught up with Hubbell in 1938, when he dropped from 22 victories to 13. The chips were removed after the season, but never again was Carl the old Meal Ticket. He won just 11 games in each of the next four seasons before packing it in after a 4-4 record in 1943.

Even then the Giants wouldn’t let him get away. Hubbell spent more than 30 years as the club’s farm director in New York and San Francisco. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1947 and died in a 1988 auto accident at age 85.

Asked once what he considered his greatest performance, Hubbell surprisingly did not cite the All-Star Game that made him famous. Instead he insisted, “I got my biggest thrill out of winning games that meant something to the ballclub, games when we were fighting for the pennant and we just had to win.”

And he usually did.

Today Hubbell is just a name from baseball’s distant past. But if we could flash back to a steamy July afternoon at the Polo Grounds in 1934, we might just see the best and the brightest pitching job ever.