In the early morning hours of last Thursday, May 26, 2011, in the 19th inning of a game that didn’t seem like it would end, Wilson Valdez was moved from his starting position of second baseman to pitcher. He faced the heart of the Cincinnati Reds order, Joey Votto, Scott Rollen and Jay Bruce, pitching a hitless inning. When the Philadelphia Phillies won the game in the bottom of the 19th, Valdez was credited with the win. He is the first position player to become a winning pitcher since Colorado catcher Brent Mayne did it on Aug. 22, 2000 at Coors Field in Denver.
Fleer made this card of Brent Mayne to commemorate his feat. Maybe Topps will consider one for Valdez in their Update Series.
You have to go back to August 25, 1968 at Yankee Stadium to find another position player credited with a win, Rocky Colavito. He did it in he last year in the majors for the Yankees. I just happen to have one of his cards in Topps’ Diamond Giveaway this year.
But Mayne and Colavito never actually started the game in the field. Both came of the bench to pitch. To find someone who matches Valdez’s feat, staring the game in the field and being moved over to pitch, you have to go back to October 1,1921 also in New York. The Athletics were the visiting team at Yankee Stadium. In the 8th inning, after having already been shifted from left fielder to first base, this Yankee great was sent to the mound. He gave up 6 runs in that inning, sending the game to extra innings. But he stayed on the mound for a total of 4 innings before recording the win after the Yankees scored in the bottom of the eleventh. That player was Babe Ruth.
And as we all know, Ruth was a pitcher in his early years which makes Valdez’s feat even more impressive because before Thursday morning he had never thrown a pitch in a game.