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November 6, 1926: Harley Hisner

On this day, 93 years ago, Harley Parnell Hisner was brought into the world. It would be roughly 25 years until he was wearing a Boston Red Sox uniform, pitching in baseball's greatest rivalry against the hated New York Yankees in front of 36,000 enemy fans at Yankee Stadium. The righty got the ball against opposing starting pitcher Spec Shea on the final day of the regular season in which the Yankees had already wrapped up the American League pennant.

Stars like Ted Williams, Dom DiMaggio, and Bobby Doer did not play. They had thousands of chances to take a major-league field throughout their careers. Hisner would only get this one. Facing a lineup filled with four future Hall of Famers, Hisner toed the rubber and beared down.

The first pitch of his career was thrown against Mickey Mantle. A few pitches later, he had struck The Mick out to open the bottom of the first. Phil Rizzuto and Joe DiMaggio, both now Hall of Famers, each singled off of him, but Hisner got Johnny Mize to fly out to end the inning and stop the threat. In the second inning, there were more future Hall of Famers lurking. Yogi Berra led of the inning with a base hit and later scored on a Jerry Coleman sacrifice fly. New York had a 1-0 lead, but Hisner escaped without further damage.

Boston couldn't seem to get its rookie pitcher any run support and so, 1-0 the score remained heading into the bottom of the third. Unable to escape legends of the game, Hisner gave up two more runs on a base hit by Berra. DiMaggio and Hank Bauer each scored. He was able to get out of the inning, his team still in it, down just 3-0. However, the Red Sox just couldn't muster anything on offense.

Hisner labored through the fourth, but then shut the Yankees down in the fifth and sixth, not allowing a base runner over his final two frames of work. He was replaced in the lineup by pinch hitter Johnny Pesky the next inning and his day was done. It was a respectable day's work against the soon-to-be American League champions as he was pulled after six innings of three-run ball. Today, that outing would be considered a "quality start".

In the paper the next day, Hisner flipped it open to see him referred to as "Harvey Hisner". Well, his given name was Harley, but went by Jim. It seemed his decent start had gone completely unnoticed on baseball's last day of the regular season.

It looked like the start of a promising major-league career, but the Red Sox never called on him again. He was bounced around the minor leagues, sold from team to team, some unaffiliated with major-league baseball altogether. While it became clear his major-league shot had passed him up, Hisner continued playing semi-pro ball through 1961.

Hisner is featured in a chapter of the classic Richard Tellis book Once Around the Bases and you can read further into his complete player profile on the Society for American Baseball Research website here.


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