Baseball fans are crazy about stats. Ask any dedicated fan how many 500 home Run hitters there have been in the history of baseball, and he could probably name them. How many teams have won more than five World Series? He'll know that, too. But here's one he won't know. How many African-Americans have pitched 20 winning games in a single season?

Now there haven't been a lot of black pitchers: not even any black Major League players before Jackie Robinson but thirteen of those pitchers won 20 or more games in a single season! Five of them did it more than once and Ferguson Jenkins did it an astonishing seven times!



The Aces



Vida Blue

He made his Major League debut in 1969 for the A’s and no-hit the Twins in 1970, but did not pitch his first full season until 1971. In that season, the left-hander went 24-8 with eight shutouts and a 1.82 ERA. He won both the Cy Young Award and the Most Valuable Player Award for his efforts. In 1973, he won 20 games against 9 losses, helping the Athletics to their second straight World Series crown. In 1975, he had another 20+ win season, winning 22 games and finishing with a 3.01 ERA. He was traded to the Giants in 1978 and proceeded to win 18 games and became the first player to be named to All-Star teams in both leagues. Blue finished his career 209-161 (1969-1986) after being named to four All-Star teams and a 3.63 ERA.

 

Al Downing

This left-handed pitcher spent 17 seasons (1961-1977) in the Major Leagues primarily with the Yankees and Dodgers. In 1961, he was the first African-American starting pitcher in Yankees history. He led the American League in strikeouts (217) in 1964, while earning 13 victories. He made his only All-Star team in 1967, pitching two perfect innings, and finished the year 14-10 with a 2.63 ERA. In 1971, he joined the Dodgers, where he responded by going 20-9 with a 2.68 ERA and a league-leading five shutouts. He was named Comeback Player of the Year. In 1974, he entered baseball history by surrendering Hank Aaron’s record-breaking 715th home run. Downing finished with 123 career victories and a 3.22 ERA.

 

Bob Gibson

A Hall of Fame pitcher who spent all 17 seasons (1959-75) with the Cardinals, and he also moonlighted as a Harlem Globetrotter. The right-hander had five 20+ win seasons and led the league in ERA once, wins once and strikeouts once. His magical 1968 season is one of the greatest seasons by a pitcher. Gibson was 22-9, a minuscule 1.12 ERA, the third lowest in history and 13 shutouts — five of those consecutively. He won both the Cy Young and Most Valuable Player Awards, leading the Cardinals to the World Championship. He won another Cy Young Award in 1970, going 23-7 with a 3.12 ERA. In 1971, he threw his only career no-hitter against the Pirates. He struck out 200 hitters nine times and won eight Gold Gloves, while being named to eight All-Star teams. He finished his career 251-174 with a 2.91 ERA and 3,117 strikeouts and was named to the Hall of Fame in 1981.

 

Dwight "Doc" Gooden

A right-handed pitcher who broke onto the scene as a 19 year old rookie in 1984. In 1984, Gooden went 17-9 with a 2.69 ERA and a league-leading 276 strikeouts, shattering the rookie record for strikeouts in a season. Gooden is the youngest player to be named Rookie of the Year, as well as the youngest to play in an All-Star Game. He followed his rookie campaign by going 24-4 with a 1.53 ERA and 268 strikeouts, leading the league in all three categories. These numbers earned Gooden the 1985 Cy Young Award. At that time, he was only the ninth pitcher to capture the award unanimously. In 1986, he finished with 17 wins, helping the Mets to a World Championship. At the same time, he became the first pitcher in history to record 200+ strikeouts in his first three seasons. In 1989, Gooden became the third youngest player to reach 100 victories. He pitched his first no-hitter for the Yankees in 1996 against the Mariners, finishing that season with 11 wins. 

 

Jim "Mudcat" Grant

A right-handed pitcher who played 14 seasons (1958-1971), primarily with the Indians and Twins. Grant was the first African-American to win 20 games in the minor leagues. He debuted for the Indians in 1958 and as a member of the Indians was named to the All-Star team in 1963. After being traded to the Twins in 1964, he had his best year in 1965, going 21-7 with six shutouts and a 3.30 ERA. The Twins played the Dodgers in the 1965 World Series, and Grant became the first African-American in the American League to earn a win in a World Series game, winning Games One and Six. In 1969, Grant earned the Expos franchise’s first win. In 1970, he went 8-3 with 24 saves for the A’s and the Pirates. Grant finished with 144 victories and a 3.63 ERA.

 

Ferguson Jenkins

This right-handed pitcher played 17 seasons (1965-1983), primarily with the Cubs. He also, like Bob Gibson, spent time playing for the Harlem Globetrotters. Jenkins led the league in complete games four times, games started three times, innings pitched three times, wins twice and strikeouts once. He compiled twenty win campaigns seven times, including a string of six in row (1967-1974). In 1971, he finished the season 24-13 with 30 complete games and a 2.77 ERA. For his efforts, he won the Cy Young Award. In 1974, pitching for the Rangers, he went 25-12, his seventh 20-win season, and was named Comeback Player of the Year. Jenkins finished his career ninth on the all-time strikeout list (3,192) and his 284-226 record with an ERA of 3.34 earned him a spot in the Hall of Fame in 1991.

 

"Sad" Sam Jones

Jones, a right-hander, began his career in the Negro Leagues, pitching the Cleveland Buckeyes to the 1947 Negro League World Series. He was signed by the Cleveland Indians in 1950 but did not get his chance to pitch full-time until 1955 after being traded to the Cubs. It was that year that he got his first no-hitter against the Pirates and was named to his first All-Star team. Jones led the National League in strikeouts three seasons, two in Chicago and one in St. Louis. In 1959, his second All-Star season, he was traded to the Giants, where he compiled a 21-15 record, leading the National League in wins and strikeouts. He also pitched his second no-hitter against the Cardinals in that season. Jones career spanned 12 years (1951-1964) compiling 102 wins and a 3.59 ERA.

 

Don Newcombe

A right-hander that spent most of his ten Major League seasons (1948-1960) in Brooklyn and Los Angeles. In 1946, Newcombe was assigned to the Montreal Royals with Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella and Roy Partlow. In 1948, he was named Rookie of the Year for going 17-8 with a 3.17 ERA. He followed his rookie season with 19- and 20-win seasons in 1950 and 1951 respectively and was named to three consecutive All-Star teams. After spending 1952 and ’53 in the military, Newcombe returned to form in 1955 by going 20-5. It was in 1956 that he shined. He won 27 games against seven losses and was awarded the Cy Young Award and the Most Valuable Player Award, making him the first player to win both in the same season. This accomplishment also made him the only player to win the Cy Young, MVP and the Rookie of the Year Awards. Newcombe finished his career 149-90 with 3.56 ERA.

 

Mike Norris

Norris, a right-handed pitcher, pitched for ten years (1975-1983, 1990) for the Oakland Athletics. His best seasons were under manager Billy Martin. In 1980, Norris put together a 22-9 season with a 2.54 ERA, finishing second in the Cy Young Award balloting. In 1981, Norris helped the A’s to the American League West divisional title and made the All-Star team. Norris finished his career with 58 wins and two Gold Gloves to his credit in 1980 and 1981.

 

J.R. Richard

Richard was a flame-throwing right-hander for the Astros, who pitched ten seasons (1971-1980). In 1971, he tied a Major League record when he fanned 15 hitters in his first game. In 1978, he became the first National League right-handed pitcher in the 20th century to strike out 300 batters, and repeated the feat again in 1979. He won 20 games in 1976, finishing 20-15. Richard led the National League in strikeouts twice and ERA once, starting the All-Star Game in 1980. A stroke in 1980 cut his career short, and after a comeback attempt, he retired with a 107-71 career record and a 3.15 ERA.

 

Dave Stewart

Stewart pitched for 16 years (1978-1995), spending them primarily with the Athletics and Blue Jays. This right-hander enjoyed his best success with the A’s in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. From 1987-1990, Stewart strung together four 20+-win seasons. During the same stretch, he led the American League in starts three times, in complete games and innings pitched twice and once each in wins and shutouts. Despite this success, he was only named to one All-Star roster and never won a Cy Young Award. It was in the post-season that he received his success was rewarded. He was twice named the ALCS Most Valuable Player and was also named 1989 World Series Most Valuable Player. He never lost an ALCS game, winning eight games and compiling a 2.03 ERA. Stewart ended his career with 168 wins and a 3.95 ERA and currently works for the Blue Jays.

Earl Wilson

Wilson played 11 years (1959-1970) with the Red Sox, Tigers and Padres. In his first full season in the Major Leagues (1962), he no-hit the Angels, finishing the season 12-8. In 1966, he was traded to the Tigers where he enjoyed his greatest success. He compiled 13 victories for the Tigers in ’66. In 1967, Wilson earned 22 wins against only 11 losses, finishing tied for the American League lead in wins. He helped the Tigers win the World Series in 1968 with 13 wins. Wilson’s last season was in 1970, and he finished with 121 career wins and a 3.69 ERA.

 

Dontrelle Willis

Dontrelle Wayne Willis (born January 12, 1982 in Oakland, California), popularly known as "D-Train," is a Major League Baseball starting pitcher for the Florida Marlins who made his debut in 2003 and went on to win the 2003 World Series. He is known for his very exaggerated, high leg kick in his pitch delivery, a trait which has drawn comparisons to Hall of Famer Juan Marichal. Willis attended Encinal High School in Alameda, California, where he played baseball for four years. He bats and throws left handed, and he is considered one of the best hitting pitchers in the majors. He holds Alameda Little League's homerun record, hitting fifteen at the age of twelve.

On March 27, 2002, the Chicago Cubs traded Willis (then a minor leaguer) and fellow pitchers Julián Tavárez and José Cueto, and catcher Ryan Jorgensen to the Florida Marlins, in exchange for pitchers Matt Clement and Antonio Alfonseca.

In 2003, Willis was named the National League Rookie of the Year. He went 14-6 with a 3.30 ERA in 27 starts.

In 2005, Willis became the 13th, and newest Black Ace. He led the MLB with 22 wins while posting a 2.63 ERA.

 

 

 


 
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