Feb 25, 2020
On February 24, 1917 – – Smoky Joe Wood, his arm dead at 26, is sold by the Boston Red Sox to Cleveland for $15,000. He will become an outfielder after one last, losing start on the mound, and will play five more years.
Wood had slipped on wet grass while fielding a bunt in a game against the Detroit Tigers. He fell and broke his thumb, and pitched in pain for the following three seasons. Although he maintained a winning record and a low ERA, his appearances were limited, as he could no longer recover quickly from pitching a game. Wood sat out the 1916 season and most of the 1917 season, and for all intents and purposes ended his pitching career.
When Wood was sold to the Cleveland Indians, he rejoined former teammate Tris Speaker. Always proficient with the bat, he embarked on a second career; like his former teammate Babe Ruth, Wood ended his career as an outfielder. His hitting statistics, however, were far more pedestrian than those of Ruth. Nonetheless, Wood finished in the top 10 in the American League in runs batted in two seasons (1918 and 1922), and in 1918 he also finished in the top ten in home runs, doubles, batting average, and total bases. Wood pitched seven more times, all but one game in relief, winning none and losing one. He also appeared in four games in the 1920 World Series becoming the only player besides Ruth to be a starting pitcher and starting outfielder in a World Series game.
Wood finished his major league career after the 1922 season with a pitching record of 117–57 and an ERA of 2.03. His lifetime batting average was .283. In his final season with the Indians, he had his highest hit total for a season with 150, and also set a personal mark for RBI with 92.
Here is Smoky Joe to tell you his story . . .