The year being referred to is 1935, so definitely a time where pitchers took hitting as seriously as ever. Even as late as the 1960s, pitchers were known to take regular batting practice and in some cases, spent as much time focusing on helping their team as much at the plate as on the mound. Seeing the game as it has changed, many reasons exist for why pitchers do not make it a priority to hit as they used to. At the very least, I think more time should be spent on bunting, a thing that pitchers could do better to help their teams on the offensive side of the ball. Throughout baseball, pitchers are almost never seen in the batting cages. My question would be, "Why can't they at least practice bunting a little more than they do?"
Wes Ferrell was considered one of the best hitting pitchers the game has ever seen. There is no competing with Babe Ruth, or even Smokey Joe Wood, but Ferrell was so good of a hitter he was used on many occasions as a pinch hitter. The .280 hitter hit 38 career HRs mostly for the Indians and Red Sox and had as many as 150 at bats in a season. Of course, his brother Rick was a Hall of Fame catcher who was inducted by the Veterans Committee in 1984. Rick's career average? .281. Wes was not too bad on the mound either. The six time 20 game winner won 193 games over the course of his 15 year career. In fact, Ferrell had 91 career wins by the age of 24.
On July 21, 1935, Ferrell came up as a pinch hitter for the Red Sox in the 9th inning in a game against the Tigers. Tigers RHP Tommy Bridges and Red Sox LHP Lefty Grove were battling in this particular game. The Red Sox led the game 2-1 going into the 8th inning, when each team traded runs with the Red Sox taking a 3-2 lead into the top of the 9th inning. Grove would give up 3 runs to the Tigers in the top of the 9th. With the Tigers leading 6-4, Red Sox manager Joe Cronin called on Ferrell to come up as a pinch hitter with two on and one out in the inning. Ferrell would promptly hit a three-run HR to walk the Red Sox off for a 7-6 victory.
The next day, the Red Sox were hosting the St Louis Browns, managed by the great Rogers Hornsby. Ferrell was locked in a pitchers duel, a 1-1 game going into the 9th inning. He came up to the plate, this time against Browns RHP Dick Coffman, who had pitched the entire game. Ferrell broke the tie with a solo HR, giving the Red Sox the 2-1 victory.
No question one of the more impressive performances that gets little attention. Think about the attention a player gets for hitting a walk off HR in the game today. The few occurances when a player does it on consecutive days get a ton of media attention. Albert Pujols on June 4th and 5th, 2011, accomplished the feat. Among others to do it are Fred Lynn, Tom Paciorek, Alvin Davis, Ron Santo and Albert Belle. However, none of those accomplishments are in the same league as a pitcher doing it. One who pitches every 4 to 6 days and only gets extra ABs if they are an exceptional hitter. Rick Ferrell's accomplishment should remain one of the more impressive feats the game has ever seen.