Sunday, May 21, 2006

Rex Barney

He couldn't find homeplate with a road map.

He couldn't throw the proverbial pea in the ocean.

He couldn't hit the side of a barn with a baseball if his life depended on it.

Yes, Rex Edward Barney was wild.

He was so wild that whenever he pitched the fans in the first 10 rows behind homeplate should have been required to execute release and waiver of liability forms. At a minimum, they should have been equipped with full catching gear for protection.

He was also fast.

Very, very fast.

Some old-timers say he was the fastest pitcher in the history of the game. New York Yankee great Joe DiMaggio said Barney was "faster than Bobby Feller in his prime." Others claimed Barney was faster than Sandy Koufax and Nolan Ryan.

Unfortunately, the flamethower's career went up in smoke when he was just 25-years old. During his final major league season, Barney walked 48 batters in 33.2 innings. That's an average of 12.8 free passes per nine innings.

Despite years of trying, he was never able to solve his control problems.

Barney pitched in the big leagues with the Brooklyn Dodgers for parts of six seasons (1943, 1946-1950). He finished his career with a 35-31 won-lost record and a 4.31 earned run average. His best season was 1948 when he won 15 games with a 3.10 ERA, and tossed a no-hitter against the hated New York Giants at the Polo Grounds on September 9th.

After his playing days were over, Barney became a radio and television broadcaster in the New York and Baltimore markets. He took over as the full-time public address announcer for the Baltimore Orioles in 1974 and became famous for his calls of "Thank youuuu" and "Give that fan a contract."

In 1989 he was inducted into the Brooklyn Dodgers' Hall of Fame.

He died on August 12, 1997, at the age of 72.

[1] -----. "Former Dodgers Pitcher Rex Barney Passes Away." SLAM! Baseball, August 12, 1997. <>
[2] Daley, Arthur. "Sports of the Times: Returned to the Factory for Repairs." New York Times, April 11, 1950, 35.


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