OTD in 1968, NC native Hoyt Wilhelm set yet another MLB record. (Wilhelm set and broke several MLB records throughout his career.) In 1968, the MLB record for games pitched in a career was held by Cy Young, who pitched in 906 games during his 22-year career. On July 24, 1968, Hoyt Wilhelm appeared in his 907th career game setting a new career MLB record. Wilhelm’s record setting 907th appearance came in Game 2 of a doubleheader, pitching in the 9th inning for the White Sox against the Oakland A’s. Hoyt made his 906th appearance, tying Cy Young, in Game 1 of the doubleheader.
Wilhelm was born in 1922 in Huntersville, NC and attended Cornelius High School. At age 19, Hoyt pitched for the local pro team, the Mooresville Moors of the North Carolina State League in 1942, going 10-3 with a 4.25 ERA. Wilhelm’s success came primarily from his mastery of the knuckleball pitch. Wilhelm was drafted into the US Army in 1942. Hoyt served his country from 1942-1945 and earned a Purple Heart for wounds sustained during the Battle of the Bulge in World War II. He returned to the Moors in 1946 and won 20-games back-to-back for Mooresville going 21-8 with a 2.47 ERA in 1946 and 20-7 with a 3.38 ERA in 1947.
His MLB career began in 1952, as the 29-year old rookie Wilhelm set a then MLB rookie record pitching in 71 games for the New York Giants. Hoyt went 15-3 his rookie year, leading the NL in games (71), winning percentage (.833) and ERA (2.43). 21 years later, Wilhelm would retire in 1972 at age 49 after pitching in 1,070 career games with 9 different teams, mostly as a reliever. He finished with a career 3.06 ERA, 143 wins, 228 saves, a World Series ring with the 1954 Giants, and 8 All-Star selections. In 1985, Wilhelm was voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame.