Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sunday School: History Lesson 41

Emory "Bubba" Church was a pitcher with the Phillies from 1950-1952. Like Curt Simmons, Church was a strong-armed Phils farmhand who quickly moved through the minor league system. Following 15 wins at Toronto in 1949, he earned a shot in the big leagues and debuted with the Phillies in 1950. Church had some solid success with the team.

As a rookie, Church was initially used out of the bullpen. By the middle of the 1950 season, Church was inserted into the starting rotation and helped the Phillies win the National League crown with some convincing wins. He won five of his first six starts, including a couple of shutouts.

In mid-September that season, Church took a line drive to his face off the bat of Cincinnati's Ted Kluszewski. Church would be carried off the field on a stretcher. He made one final start that season, but was not used in the World Series.

In 1951, Church started the season slowly. He won just 3 of his first 8 starts. However, starting in late May, he reeled off 5 straight wins including back to back shutouts of the Pirates and Braves. By the end of the season, Church had logged 15 wins, 15 complete games and 4 shutouts. Church also threw a one-hitter against Pittsburgh in August that season.

The next season, Church showed up to spring training out of shape and this bothered Phils manager Eddie Sawyer. As a result, Church pitched in only two games before the Phillies traded him to the Reds for pitcher Kent Peterson and utility man Johnny Wyrostek in May.

Bubba Church's final 3-plus seasons in the Majors did not produce another winning season. He posted a 13-20 combined record with the Reds and Cubs in those years. Church retired in 1955, rather than accept a minor league assignment.

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