Herman Pillette

Herman Polycarp Pillette (December 26, 1895 – April 30, 1960), nicknamed "Old Folks", [1] was a Major League Baseball pitcher who played four seasons with the Cincinnati Reds (1917) and Detroit Tigers (1922–1924). Born in St. Paul, Oregon, USA, Pillette was a 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m), right-handed pitcher who pitched one inning for the Reds on July 30, 1917, giving up 4 hits and 2 earned runs, and did not play in another Major League game for five years thereafter.

In 1922, the Tigers gave the 25-year-old Pillette a second chance, and he came through with a 19–12 record in his first full season in the big leagues. In 1922, Pillette started 37 games, completed 18, threw 4 shutouts, and had a 2.85 ERA—a full point below the league average ERA of 3.87 in 1922. Pillette's performance in 1922 ranked him 2nd in the American League in ERA (2.85), 6th in winning percentage (.613), 7th in wins (19), 2nd in shutouts (4), 2nd in hit batsmen (15), 4th in games started (37), and 9th in innings (274-2/3) and batters faced (1,183).

One of Pillette's losses in 1922 came in a perfect game pitched by Charlie Robertson on April 30, 1922. Pillette took the 2–0 loss. [2] Tigers batters Ty Cobb and Harry Heilmann complained that Robertson was doctoring the ball. [3]

After a brilliant rookie season, Pillette never reached the same level of performance. In 1923, his ERA rose to 3.85—up from 2.85 the prior year. And, instead of being among the win leaders, Pillette was tops in the American League with losses in 1923 with 19. Pillette saw limited action in 1924, starting only 3 games and finishing 1–1. He played in his final game on September 28, 1924.

Pillette died in Sacramento, California at age 64 in 1960.

By Dean Hanley

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