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Sunday School: Phillies History Lesson 82

Henry Lee Meadows was a pitcher with the Phillies from 1919-1923. Meadows was the first player in the 20th century to take the field while wearing eyeglasses. At the time this was quite unique. Journalists wondered how Meadows could find home plate, while opposing batters claimed to fear for their safety. The attention earned Meadows the nickname "Specs".

Meadows, a right-handed hurler, made his Major League debut with the Cardinals at age 20 in 1915 after two winning season in the minor leagues. He was originally a spitball pitcher.

In July 1919, Meadows was traded to the Phillies, along with infielder Gene Paulette, for Doug Baird, Elmer Jacobs and Frank Woodward. Out of his 17 starts for the Phillies that year, Meadows completed 15 of those games and threw 3 shut outs.

The following season, in 1920, Meadows posted wins in 8 of his first 10 starts, but he struggled down the stretch and finished the season with a 16-14 record and a 2.84 ERA. Meadows threw 3 shut outs for the Phils that year also, including a 3-0 blanking of former Phillie Grover Cleveland Alexander and his new team, the Cubs, in August.

That same month, Cleveland shortstop Ray Chapman was hit in the head by a pitch from Yankees pitcher Carl May and died as a result of his injuries. Major League Baseball initiated rules outlawing the spitball and forcing umpires to replace balls after they became dirty.

After the ban on his primary pitch, the North Carolina native, Meadows, had back-to-back losing seasons and saw his ERA rise a considerable amount. In 1921, Meadows posted an 11-16 record with a 4.31 ERA. The following season, Meadows went 12-18 with a 4.03 ERA.

Tired of Meadows' struggles, the Phillies traded Meadows to Pittsburgh, along with infielder Johnny Rawlings for pitcher Whitey Glazer, utility man Cotton Tierney and $50,000 in May 1923. In Pittsburgh, Meadows saw his success return, as he was backed by a stronger club. He went on to post great numbers as a member of the Pirates, winning 19 games or better three straight seasons. He also pitched in two World Series for the Pirates.

"Specs" Meadows pitched with Pittsburgh for parts of 7 seasons, going 88-52 overall. But after struggling at the Major League level at age 34 in 1929, he would land back in the minor leagues. He would pitch three more seasons.

After retiring from playing baseball, Meadows worked for the IRS.

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