Stanley Coveleski started his pitching career with a few tin cans, a handful of stones, and an inexhaustible supply of determination. Born in Shamokin, Pennsylvania, he began life in the mines at age 12. Every night he tied a tin can to a tree or set up tin cans on a log and knocked them off with the stones he pitched. As he recalled some eighty years later, "The plate's a lot bigger than a tin can to throw at. When it come to throwing a baseball, why, it was easy to pitch."
The semi-pro ballclub in Shamokin heard about the aim he had developed and, short a pitcher one day, invited him to pitch for them. Stanley Coveleski, known to his friends and teammates as Covey, pitched only five games for the local club. After those five games, he signed with the pros and left the mines forever to play ball for Lancaster of the Tri-State League.
Stan pitched a three hitter for the Philadelphia Athletics in his major league debut. Although he later became known for the spitball pitch, Covey never had thrown a spitball prior to 1915. After seeing it used in the Pacific Coast League he decided to make it his own. Eventually he could make the ball do anything he wanted. Mastering the spitball may have been the most crucial achievement in his career. Because of the potential danger involved, especially if the pitcher lacked control, league officials banned the spitball in 1920. Covey and sixteen other established spitballers in the majors continued to throw the pitch legally. Use of the spitball retired altogether with the last of those 17 pitchers.
Covey's brilliant performance for Cleveland in the 1920 World Series may well be his most memorable feat. During that series, Coveleski pitched three complete games, allowing two runs in 27 innings and winning all three games. His incredible ERA of .67 still stands as a World Series record today. In 1969 he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. Bill James, acclaimed by Newsweek as the "Guru of Baseball", ranks Stanley Coveleski 24th among the greatest right-hand pitchers of all time in career value. His career statistics say it all: During the years from 1916 to 1928, Covey won 216 and lost 142, had five 20 game seasons and had a world series record of 3 wins and 2 losses.
In 1929, he and his wife Frances bought a home on Napier Street and made South Bend, Indiana their new home. Covey encouraged the kids of the community to work hard, to develop their talent and to keep baseball alive. South Bend paid tribute to this great athlete with the opening of Stanley Coveleski Regional Stadium, home of the South Bend Silver Hawks.
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Thanks to Mike B. for this bio!