John Phillip James (born July 23, 1933 in Bonners Ferry, Idaho) is a former Major League Baseball relief pitcher who played for the New York Yankees and Los Angeles Angels between 1958 and 1961. James was originally signed by the Yankees in 1953. He batted left-handed but threw right-handed, and he was 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m), 160 pounds. He attended the University of Southern California.
He played only one game in his debut season, 1958. Appearing in relief for Art Ditmar (who had given up seven earned runs in six innings of work) on September 6, James pitched three innings of scoreless baseball, walking four batters and striking out one. He also had one at-bat in that game, and struck out.
He did not play in the major leagues in 1959, but he did appear in 28 games in relief for the Yankees in 1960. He earned a spot on the team by being a part of a spring training no-hitter. In 43 innings of work, he posted a 5–1 record, allowing 21 earned runs and striking out 29 batters. He walked 26. He also saved two games.
1961 would end up being his final season in the majors. He pitched in only one game for the Yankees that year before being traded to the Angels with Ryne Duren for Tex Clevenger and Bob Cerv on May 8. In 36 games with the Angels, he posted a 5.30 ERA. Overall that season, he walked 54 batters and struck out 43. His record was 0–2. James gave up the 20th home run of Roger Maris' then record-setting 61 home run season.
His career ended on October 1 of that year. He had a 5–3 record in 66 career games, starting 3 games. In 119 innings of work, he walked 84 and struck out 73, finishing with a 4.76 ERA. Although he did not collect a single hit in 17 at-bats (and struck out 8 times), he did score three runs. He was an almost perfect fielder, committing one error in his final season in the majors.
He wore three numbers in his career: 27 in 1958, 53 in 1959 and 1960, and 22 in 1961.
By Dean Hanley
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