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February 1, 2011 at 2:33 am ET
11 Comments
Want to See a 100-Year-Old Death Threat Mailed to a Pitcher?

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 Cleveland have never been made public until now.

Mailed to Cleveland's Colonial Hotel in September, 1912

It reads [sic]:

“Joe Wood,

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?

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11 Responses to “Want to See a 100-Year-Old Death Threat Mailed to a Pitcher?”
  1. Bud Selig says:

    4-3-1?

  2. Max says:

    Smokey Joe Wood was traded to Cleveland in 1917 for $15,000 (per Baseball Almanac and my old man)

  3. “Bud,” as the man who accepted All-Star Game ties, I’m surprised you didn’t know they happened in the Fall Classic, eons ago.

  4. Smokey Ron Wood says:

    A little more about the provenance of the letter, por favor?

  5. Joe Hooker says:

    I blame Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck.

  6. Matt S says:

    I would be interested to know where this letter was found. I would love to visit an archive of baseball materials.

  7. Steve D says:

    Proof that rolls were as stupid 100 years ago as they are today. But now they can broadcast their stupidity globally. At least this guy corrected a couple of errors and had to take the time to send a letter.

  8. Steve D says:

    Which is more than I did, misspelling “trolls.” Oops

  9. Gill Avila says:

    I would love to read this story, but some idiot has the whole thing covered by a stupid advert for Papi seeds!!!

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