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Indians star pitcher Harder dies at 93

©Associated Press

October 21, 2002


CLEVELAND -- Mel Harder, who won 223 games during a 20-year career with the Indians and pitched against such greats as Babe Ruth and Joe DiMaggio, died Sunday. He was 93.

CLEVELAND -- Mel Harder, who won 223 games during a 20-year career with the Indians and pitched against such greats as Babe Ruth and Joe DiMaggio, died Sunday. He was 93.

Mr. Harder died at his home in Chardon, about 25 miles east of Cleveland, at 3:30 a.m., according to his grandson, Dan Itschner.

Mr. Harder, who held DiMaggio hitless the day before the Yankees star started his 56-game hitting streak in 1941, was in failing health the past few years and was hospitalized a year ago with pneumonia.

Mr. Harder appeared in four All-Star Games from 1934-37 and didn't allow an earned run in 13 innings, a record that still stands. The right-hander won one game and saved two others.

"Mel Harder was a great pitcher," the late Ted Williams said in 2000. "He had a great curveball, great control. And the thing about Mel was that every one of his pitches did a little something. He was so tough."

In his final years, Williams, a member of the Hall of Fame's Veterans Committee, pushed unsuccessfully for Mr. Harder's induction.

From 1928-47, Mr. Harder was one of the American League's most consistent pitchers. He won 15 or more games eight times and won 20 in 1934 and 22 in 1935.

He was the only major-leaguer to complete two separate 20-year careers, 20 as a pitcher and 22 as a coach. He coached for the Indians, Mets, Cubs, Reds and Royals before retiring in 1969.

"If Mel Harder couldn't teach you a curveball, then no one could," said Herb Score, the 1955 AL Rookie of the Year.

The Beemer, Neb., native made it to the majors at age 19 in 1928 and had the longest playing career in Indians history. He pitched 3,426 innings, struck out 1,160 and had a career ERA of 3.80.

* * *

SELIG MAKES NICE: Commissioner Bud Selig took out a full-page ad in both the Twin Cities' daily newspapers to thank Minnesota "for your patience and enthusiasm."

The advertisement printed in the St. Paul Pioneer Press and the Star Tribune of Minneapolis includes a color photograph of the Twins as the 2002 AL Central champions.

Underneath the picture, it states:

"Thank you, Minnesota, for your patience and enthusiasm ... and Congratulations Twins, for a most memorable season! We look forward to building our future ... together."

It is signed, "Allan H. 'Bud' Selig, Commissioner of Baseball."

Selig failed to eliminate the Twins and Expos last offseason after contraction plans were blocked by the Minnesota courts.

A'S: Art Howe will return to manage the team next season. Club spokesman Jim Young said Howe, who spoke with the Mets about their job last week, no longer is a candidate. "He looks forward to managing the A's in 2003," Young said.

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