Nicholas Altrock (September 15, 1876 – January 20, 1965) was an American left-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball. Though his days as a full-time player ended quickly due to injury, Altrock made periodic appearances as a pinch hitter for many years. He appeared in a game at the age of 57. He was a coach for the Washington Senators for many years.
|Born: September 15, 1876|
|Died: January 20, 1965 (aged 88)|
|July 14, 1898, for the Louisville Colonels|
|Last MLB appearance|
|October 1, 1933, for the Washington Senators|
|Earned run average||2.65|
|Career highlights and awards|
Born in Cincinnati, Altrock was one of the better pitchers in baseball for a brief period from 1904 to 1906 with the Chicago White Sox. He was instrumental in the White Sox World Series championship in 1906, going 20-13 with a 2.06 ERA in the regular season and 1-1 with a Series-best 1.00 ERA against the Chicago Cubs.
An arm injury after 1906 ruined his career, but he hung on with the White Sox and Washington Senators until 1924, though he pitched very little after 1908 and made sporadic pinch-hitting appearances after that, including one in 1933 (facing Rube Walberg of the Philadelphia Athletics) at 57 years of age. He appeared in major league games in five decades, one of only two players to do this (Minnie Miñoso is the other); he is one of only 29 players in baseball history to have appeared in major league games in four decades.
Altrock became a coach for the Senators in 1912 and remained on the Washington staff through 1953, a 42-year skein that represents the longest consecutive-year tenure of a coach with the same franchise in baseball history. Some Senator scorecards continued to list Altrock as a "coach emeritus" even after his formal retirement.
During that time, he was noted for his antics in the coaching box and teamed with Al Schacht, the "Clown Prince of Baseball", for a dozen years to perform comedy routines on baseball fields in the days before official mascots. Schacht and Altrock also took their antics to the vaudeville stage where they appeared in a comedy routine. Ironically, at the height of their collaboration, Schacht and Altrock developed a deep personal animosity and stopped speaking with each other off the field. During their famous comic re-enactments of the Dempsey–Tunney championship boxing match, many speculated that they pulled no punches as they rained blows on each other.
An anecdote, probably apocryphal, has been printed in some baseball books about a quip by Altrock during his coaching days with the Senators. A batter had hit a ball into the stands and it was not known whether it was fair or foul. The umpire, who had been the target of Altrock's gibes, made the call and shortly afterward a woman was carried from the stands on a litter. The umpire asked Altrock if the ball had hit the woman. In his clear voice, Nick answered, "No. You called that one right and she passed out from shock."
He was the second oldest position player to play in a major league game when he played in 1924.
Though widely regarded as one of the ugliest players in major league history, he was married to his wife Eleanor for more than 50 years. No stranger to wit herself, she observed that "the face lacks grace, but the dong is long."
Altrock died at age 88 in Washington, D.C. in 1965. He is interred at Vine Street Hill Cemetery in Cincinnati.
- "Vizquel: A Double, a Triple, and a First". ESPN.com. July 28, 2012. Retrieved July 28, 2012.
- "Nick Altrock Stats". Baseball Almanac. Retrieved November 6, 2012.
- Laurie, Joe, Jr. Vaudeville: From the Honky-tonks to the Palace. New York: Henry Holt, 1953. p. 127.
- 1954 Baseball Register. St. Louis: The Sporting News, 1954.
- The Baseball Necrology