During his 11-season career, Red Sox pitcher Smoky Joe Wood–who was somehow left off our list of awesome baseball porn names–managed a 117-57 record, a 2.03 ERA, 121 complete games and 28 shutouts. Many of those stats were accumulated during the 1912 season, in which Wood posted an astonishing 34-5 record, 35 complete games, 10 shutouts, a 1.91 ERA, and even a .290 batting average. The only reason Wood didn’t win the Cy Young that season is because the award was 44 years from being established.
Evidently, Wood’s incredible 1912 season wasn’t lost on fans of opposing teams. Making Wood’s performance all the more amazing, the pitcher was said to have received numerous death threats in the mail throughout the ’12 campaign. A few days ago at work (in a sports-related workplace), I happened upon a photocopy of one such threat tucked inside a folder containing vintage press photos of Wood.
To my knowledge, the contents of this (dated) September 16, 1912 letter that was sent to the Red Sox team hotel in ClevelandÂ have never been made public until now.
It reads [sic]:
Say your final farewells at once as you will be no more within a short time. You will be in danger every moment from now on, especially on the grounds. nothing stops us, and we never fail to put an end to our victim. Two others go with you from your team one higher up and lower. We wont even warn them they will go with you. Two men from New York will accompany you and one from Wash. We warn you we never fail. Add. on envelope is false. We never fail. This easy money getting must be stopped.
Eight of our gang took up your trail yesterday.”
Fortunately, the only things the threatening party succeeded in killing were the conventions of grammar. Despite the apparent track record of this “gang” never failing to put an end to their victims, Wood died of natural causes in 1985, at 95 years of age. Exactly a month after this cryptic mail was sent, the Red Sox would top the New York Giants 4-3-1 in the World Series… where Wood reportedly received more death threats. Despite the threats, Wood would earn three of Boston’s four Series wins. Strangely, Wood opted to play his final three professional seasons in Cleveland, the city where this specific threat to his life originated.
Weird stuff, right?