Barney Pelty
Barney Pelty.jpg
Starting pitcher
Born: (1880-09-10)September 10, 1880
Farmington, Missouri
Died: May 24, 1939(1939-05-24) (aged 58)
Farmington, Missouri
Batted: Right
Threw: Right
MLB debut
August 20, 1903, for the St. Louis Browns
Last MLB appearance
August 10, 1912, for the Washington Senators
MLB statistics
Win–loss record92–117
Earned run average2.63

Barney Pelty (September 10, 1880 – May 24, 1939), was an American Major League Baseball pitcher known as "the Yiddish Curver" because he was one of the first Jewish baseball players in the American League. As of 2017 he is in the top-ten for his career of all pitchers in the St. Louis Browns/Baltimore Orioles franchise in batters hit by pitch (first), complete games (third), ERA (sixth), and innings pitched and shutouts (eighth).

Early and personal life

Pelty was born (and later died) in Farmington, Missouri, where his family was the only Jewish family at the time.[1] His parents were Samuel (who immigrated to the US from Prussia at the age of 17) and Helena Pelty, who were both Jewish, and he was the youngest of six children.[2] His father was a cigar maker, and opened up a cigar store.[1] He and his wife had a son, who became the city engineer of Farmington.[3]


Pelty was offered free tuition at the now-defunct Carleton College in Farmington, Missouri to pitch for them.[1] While attending Carleton, he met Eva Warsing, whom he married.[3] After two years at Carleton, Pelty transferred to Blees Military Academy in Macon, Missouri, and pitched for the Academy team in the 1899 and 1900 spring seasons.[3][2]

Minor league career

Pelty began his professional career with the 1902 Nashville Volunteers, but an arm injury cut his season short.[2] After playing semipro ball, he was signed by the Cedar Rapids Rabbits of the Illinois-Indiana-Iowa League for 1903, and pitched in 25 games for them.[4][2]

Major league career

Pelty in 1909
Pelty in 1909

The Boston Red Sox and the St. Louis Browns got into a bidding war for him in 1903, and the Browns won with an offer of $850 ($26,000 today).[5] Pelty was 22 years old when he made his Major League debut that year.[6] He became a coach when not pitching.[3]

Pelty was a workhorse for the Browns, a member of their starting rotation from 1904, when he pitched 31 complete games and 301 innings, through 1911.[7][8]

In 1904 Pelty led the league in hit batsmen (20; a franchise record that still stands), and was 6th in wild pitches (9), while pitching 31 complete games (tied for 6th-most in franchise history).[7][9] In 1905 he was 14–14 with a 2.75 ERA,[7] while the team's other pitchers were a combined 40–85.

His peak year was 1906, when Pelty went 16–11 with a 1.59 ERA (2nd in the AL).[7] He also led the league in fewest hits allowed per 9 innings pitched (6.53) and lowest batting average against (.206), and was 2nd in hit batsmen (19).[7][2] He especially was dominant against the World Series champion 1906 White Sox, allowing one run in 32 innings. In one three-game series against Chicago, Pelty pitched every game, including a scoreless tie in 10 innings. His 1.59 ERA is the lowest in the history of the Browns/Baltimore Orioles franchise, and his Walks & Hits per IP of 0.951 is the 2nd-lowest (behind Dave McNally's 0.852 in 1968).[9]

In 1907 he lost a league-high 21 games and hit a league-high 19 batters, while pitching 5 shutouts (6th-best in the league) and 29 complete games (also 6th-best).[7] In 1908, the right-hander improved to 7–4, 1.99 ERA in a reduced role.[7]

In 1909 Pelty pitched 5 shutouts, 5th-best in the AL.[7] He also was 10th-best in the league in fewest hits allowed per 9 innings pitched (7.13).[7]

On June 11, 1912, he was purchased for $2,500 ($70,000 today) by the Washington Senators from the St. Louis Browns.[7][2] Pelty finished his career with the Senators that year.

He gave up 22 home runs in 1,908 innings in his career.[7] Pelty did not mind pitching inside, leading the league in hit batsmen in 1904 and 1907. While he gave up only 558 earned runs lifetime, errors by his teammates (and by him—he had 12 in 1906) let in nearly another 200 unearned runs lifetime. Pelty pitched 22 career shutouts, but was shut out 32 times, including nine 1–0 defeats due to poor offensive support.[2]

Pelty's career ERA is 2.63, 64th-best through 2017 of all pitchers in major league baseball. Through 2017 he ranked 82nd in hits per 9 innings, and 78th in batters hit by pitch.[7]

He was as of 2017 in the top-10 for his career of all pitchers in the St. Louis Browns/Baltimore Orioles franchise in hit by pitch (1st), complete games (3rd), ERA (6th), and innings pitched and shutouts (8th).[10]

In his career, through 2010 Pelty was one of the all-time best Jewish pitchers in major league history, ranking first in career ERA (ahead of # 2 Sandy Koufax), 6th in wins (92; directly behind Jason Marquis), and 7th in strikeouts (693; directly behind Barry Latman).[11]

Later years

In 2010, Farmington City Council voted to name an access road leading to a Sports Complex "Barney Pelty Drive" in his honor.[12] In 2016, Pelty was inducted into the first class of the Farmington Hall of Fame.[13]


See also