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February 19, 1894: Ernie Cox

Born on this day 126 years ago in Birmingham, Alabama, Ernest Thompson Cox grew to have an interesting career in pro baseball. His first year of professional baseball came in 1916 when he was 22 years old. Pitching for the Charleston Sea Gulls of the Sally League in Class-C, he went 15-9 with an ERA below 3.00.

He followed that up with a 10-2 season in 1917 with an ERA around 2.00. Despite those two strong performances in Charleston, he was out of organized baseball in 1918, which means he may have played in Independent Ball before they started keeping more comprehensive records. Nevertheless, he came back in 1919 with the Richmond Colts of the Virginia League and completely floundered.

His 0-5 record with an ERA well over 5.00 ended any hopes he had of reaching the pinnacle of professional baseball...or so it seemed. Out of organized baseball for the next two seasons, he returned in 1922 with the Chicago White Sox. With limited records of the time available, it's impossible to know exactly what series of events led the 28-year-old to finally get his shot in the majors.

At Comiskey Park on May 5, 1922, he came out of the White Sox's bullpen against the visiting Cleveland Indians. His team was already down 4-0 when he took the mound in the top of the seventh inning. He did nothing to prevent the lead from growing. In his only inning of MLB work, Cox gave up a hit, walked two batters and gave up two earned runs. That ballooned his MLB career ERA to 18.00 when he walked off the mound for the first time.

Never again did he appear in a major-league game. His life in Birmingham in retirement saw him come near many of the most infamous events of the Civil Rights Movement. Shortly after the legal gains stemming from that movement were made, Cox passed away in his hometown in 1974. He is buried at Forest Hill Cemetery in Birmingham.


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