Urban James Shocker (August 22, 1890 – September 9, 1928), born Urbain Jacques Shockor in Cleveland, Ohio, was a Major League Baseball pitcher for the New York Yankees and St. Louis Browns from 1916 to 1928.
As a prelude to his major league career, Shocker spent most of the 1916 season demoted by the Yankees to Toronto of the International League for seasoning and to prove himself. Shocker posted a marvelous 15–3 and strung together 54 consecutive scoreless innings. His scoreless inning streak and 1.31 ERA for the campaign both still stand as International League records. He was called up by the Yankees and played with them through the 1917 season. That winter, Miller Huggins engineered a trade to the Browns that he came to regret. Shocker rejoined Huggins and the Yankees in 1925.
The right-handed hurler had four consecutive 20-win seasons with the Browns in the early 1920s, during which he was one of the most dominant pitchers in baseball. Urban was the last Yankee pitcher to legally throw a spitball, as he and a handful of other pitchers were grandfathered into the practice after it was banned by baseball in 1920.
Shocker lived with a heart condition so severe that some books say that he had to sleep either sitting or standing up. By the early fall of 1927, he was too ill to maintain his place in the starting lineup.
After his release from the Yankees in 1928, Shocker entered an exhibition tournament in Denver. He pitched in one game on August 6, 1928 against a team from Cheyenne, Wyoming and fared poorly in that outing.
Around this time, he contracted pneumonia and was hospitalized shortly thereafter. He died in Denver as the result of heart failure exacerbated by the disease.
By Dean Hanley
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