William Symmes Voiselle
Nicknames: "Big Bill" or "Ninety Six"
Born: Jan. 29, 1919 in Greenwood, S.C.
Died: Jan. 31, 2005 in Greenwood, S.C.
Debut: 1942 | Pos: P
Ht: 6'4" | Wt: 200 | B: R | T: R
>> Visit the Bill Voiselle biography on Baseball Almanac for complete statistics.
Bill Voiselle, who won 74 games in his major league career, died on Jan. 31, 2005 at Self Memorial Hospital in Greenwood, S.C. He was 86.
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As a youngster in Ninety Six, South Carolina, Bill Voiselle and his friends were often faced with the rules of the day - no baseball on Sundays. So, Voiselle and his friends would sneak near the banks of a local creek and play anyway. At least, until they got caught. Voiselle wouldn't have to worry about sneaking around on Sundays in the future though. Voiselle, or Old Ninety Six as he was called, would make it to Major League Baseball.
"Some of the biggest crowds I pitched to were on Sundays," Voiselle said, recalling his career during an interview in 1993.
In 1944, Voiselle appeared in 43 games for the New York Giants. He would finish the season with a 21-16 record, 312.2 innings pitched, 161 strikeouts and a 3.02 ERA. Major League Baseball lacked a true Rookie of the Year award in 1944, but he received the equivalent. Voiselle is the last rookie pitcher ever to have pitched more than 300 innings in his initial season.
Voiselle was the starting pitcher on May 23, 1944 when wartime restrictions were lifted and the Giants hosted the first night game in New York since the start of the war. Voiselle sees a 2-1 lead fall in the ninth when two Giants players run into each other and Dodgers score 2 runs and pull out a 3-2 win.
The Chicago Chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) established an award recognizing the major leagues' top rookie following the 1940 season, selecting Lou Boudreau for the honor. The Chicago chapter presented the award to Voiselle following the 1944 season.
In 1945, Voiselle pitched 232.1 innings that season and finished with a 14-14 record. He finished his career with a 74-84 record.
On June 13, 1947, the New York Giants traded Voiselle to the Boston Braves for pitcher Mort Cooper. Cooper would only pitch in 8 games that season for the Giants. Voiselle would go to the World Series with the Braves in 1948.
In that series, Voiselle came into Game 3 as a relief pitcher and he got the start in Game 6. He pitched 10.2 innings in the series and surrendered three earned runs for a 2.53 ERA.
Most concede that Voiselle and his Boston teammates out-pitched and out-hit the Cleveland Indians, but the team was eliminated 4-2 after losing 4-3 to the Indians in the sixth game of the series. The Cleveland team included Lou Boudreau, Larry Doby, Satchel Paige and Bob Feller.
He also has the distinction of wearing one of the largest numbers ever in the history of baseball. Voiselle received special permission from the league to wear the number 96 as a way to honor his hometown. That was the highest number ever worn until relief pitcher Mitch Williams wore No. 99 in the 1980s.
Voiselle's career reads like an atlas. He played for a number of minor league and major league clubs including ones in Moultrie, Ga.; Canton, Ohio; Rocky Mount, N.C.; Greensboro, N.C.; Louisville, Ky.; Oklahoma City, Ok.; the New York Giants; the Boston Braves; the Chicago Cubs; the Brooklyn Dodgers; Montreal, Canada; Springfield, Mass.; Richmond, Va.; Toronto; Buffalo, N.Y.; Vancouver; Little Rock, Ark.; Tulsa, Ok.; Scranton, Pa.; and Jersey City, N.J.
Voiselle recalled how players on the New York Giants would receive boxes of Wheaties for pitching shutouts or hitting home runs. The Polo Grounds was so so short on right and left fields that home runs were frequent. Other players used to give Voiselle their Wheaties because they already had more than enough.
"I used to send Wheaties home to the dogs," he recalls.