Happy birthday today to former pitcher Elmer Riddle. He would have been 105 today.
Elmer Riddle was born in Columbus, GA on July 31, 1914. He was a pitcher in the Major Leagues for 10 seasons (1939-1949). Elmer’s older brother Johnny was also a Major Leaguer (1930-1948) as a catcher. The two were teammates for several seasons with the Cincinnati Reds. Elmer’s pro baseball career started in 1936 when he was signed by the Cleveland Indians. In 1937, Elmer joined the Class-B Charlotte Hornets of the Piedmont League. Riddle would win 13 in 25 games for Charlotte before being acquired by the Cincinnati Reds and promoted to the Indianapolis Indians of the American Association. In 1939, Elmer split the season with four different teams. He started the ’39 season going 3-4 with the Durham Bulls of the Piedmont League before being promoted to Birmingham, then Indianapolis, and ultimately earning a brief look with the big league Reds.
His rookie year in the Majors, 1940, Elmer pitched in 15 games for the Reds and turned in a 1.87 ERA and earned a World Series ring with the Reds. He continued his success in 1941 willing 11 straight games before finishing the season 19-4 with a 2.24 ERA in 33 games (22 starts). The 26-year old Riddle’s .826 winning percentage and 2.24 ERA led the National League and made him the youngest pitcher to ever lead the league in either of those categories. Elmer also finished 5th in the MVP voting for ’41.
In 1943, Elmer would win 21 games for the Reds, which tied him for the Major League lead. For Riddle’s 19th win of the ’43 season, he took a perfect game into the 8th inning against the Pirates, retiring the first 22 batters. In 1948, Riddle would earn his only All-Star selection while pitching for the Pirates. Elmer retired from baseball in 1951, finishing his Major and Minor League career with 121 wins in 358 games.