“If You Can’t Make A Hit In A Ball-Game, You Can’t Make A Hit With Me”

vintage-baseball-postcard-a-chance-play

circa 1910

There are many weird stories about Valentine’s Day. I’ll share just one with you.

St. Valentine – there are three St. Valentine’s if you’re keeping track, and this St. Valentine was one of the three – was imprisoned by the Romans for either a) helping Christians escape from the Romans, or b) marrying young couples when the Roman emperor expressly told him not to. Either way, St. Valentine ended up in prison, fell in love with the jailor’s daughter, and, before being put to death, sent her a card signed, “From Your Valentine.”

In this world of “Alternative Facts,” I’m sure this story is absolutely true.

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Slim Love ~ A Valentine’s Tale

Slim Love was a pitcher.

(I’m not clever enough to make this up. This story is true.)

slim love photo

public domain image.

This is Slim.

Slim wasn’t his given name, of course.

His birth name, given in 1890, was Edward.

But, baseball is the land of a thousand nicknames. And, while “Slim” isn’t the best of them, it certainly isn’t the worst, and it’s appropriate enough if you’re a lanky, stringbeany, beanpoley, 6 foot 7 kind of fella.

In 1913, as a member of the Senators, The Washington Post called Love the “elongated twirler” with a “bucolic disposition and odd appearance.”

Today, just calling him tall would do.

To be 6’7” is to be pretty tall, but not as tall as Jon Rauch (6’11”) or Randy Johnson (6’10”).

But, to be 6’7” in 1913 is to be the tallest man in the major leagues.

slim love

public domain image.

Slim Love. All 6’7″ of him.

(Fun Fact: The tallest players in major league baseball are all pitchers.)

Slim Love is the perfect-ish name for Valentine’s Day.

It’s sweet with the Love part, but Slim makes the love seem a bit stand-offish and tenuous. A slim love is fragile. It’s a complicated love. Tender, but a little bit sad. Still, it’s a good name.

(Unconditional love is what you get from a dog.  Slim love is what you get from a cat.)

Stevie Grumbles

Even Stevie’s love is slim at times.

Slim Love wasn’t a spectacular pitcher. He isn’t particularly memorable at all.

But, baseball historians are a fair-minded lot and they remember everyone.

Love, apparently, bragged his way onto a minor league team in Memphis, while having, apparently, no real baseball skills.

I thought this was fairly remarkable and quite a lucky break for Slim, and assumed perhaps that this was merely a sign of how baseball behaved in a far simpler time.

Then I realized that idiots in all walks of life brag themselves into jobs they are unsuited for all the time and I find them, as a group, highly annoying.

Slim Love must have figured something out, however, because he eventually played a few big league seasons with the Senators, Yankees, and Tigers.

1918 yankees team

public domain image

1918 New York Yankees. Slim Love is in the middle (kneeling) row, second from the right.

He had an undisciplined fastball and never learned – or just couldn’t – throw a curve or anything else for that matter, despite the futile efforts of Yankees manager Miller Huggins to teach him a new pitch or at least some control.

His major league career was finished by 1920 at age 29. He ended with a 3.04 ERA and a 28-21 record (most of that with the Yankees), which isn’t all that special, but could still land you a job today in many bullpens, if not in a starting rotation.

slim love zeenut

Slim Love even had his own baseball card.

He kicked around in the minor and independent leagues into the 1930s. He died in 1942 in Memphis, at age 52, after being struck by a car.

Love Gravestone

There’s no moral to Slim Love’s tale.

Only that there are plenty of players in baseball who may not have been very good, but were a little bit interesting, or just a touch quirky.

Maybe just their name will stand the test of time.

Or, maybe not. In reporting on his death in 1942, The Sporting News got his name and age wrong. They called him Elmer.

elmer

The Sporting News. Dec. 10, 1942

The Slim Love story doesn’t end quite yet. For Part 2, and the day Slim Love faced Babe Ruth, click here.

Happy Baseball. Pitchers & Catchers report this week. Finally.