I wrote something completely different for me in today's newspaper -- a story about Shelby's Rogers Hornsby McKee, who 68 years ago became a baseball star for one day.
There was a wartime shortage of baseball players in 1943, since so many were drafted and were serving in World War II. At age 16, McKee was too young to be drafted but had a sizzling fastball and was a standout lefty pitcher in Shelby. The Philadelphia Phillies signed him for $4,000 and brought him straight to the big leagues, where he appeared several times in relief and then started the only major league game he ever would on Oct.3, 1943.
Incidentally, it's amazing what you can find online, isn't it? Here's the boxscore for that game.
McKee won the game, 11-3, and threw all nine innings for the Phillies. But the next spring, in spring training, he threw his arm out and was never the same. He stayed in the minors for 13 years because he was a decent hitter, too, playing first base and outfielder, but his MLB career was over at age 18. He's now 85, long retired from his job as a mailman in Shelby, and was a pleasure to talk with. I went to Shelby to see McKee and his wife Denice last week and enjoyed it immensely.
Special thanks to Buzz Biggerstaff, a friend of McKee's, for bringing this story to our attention. McKee is too modest to have ever let us know about it on his own, which is one reason why we've never written about him before in The Observer to my knowledge.