Harry Hulihan

Playing card of Hulhan released in 2000 by the Vermont Sports Hall of Fame
Playing card of Hulhan released in 2000 by the Vermont Sports Hall of Fame

Harry “Ike” Hulihan was born in Central Rutland, Vermont on April 18, 1899. It was there that he grew up playing football, baseball, and basketball. During his high school years, Hulihan starred at Rutland High on both the football and baseball teams. His true colors shined on the diamond however, as the lefty pitcher gained a reputation as one of the best around.  He spent time as captain for his local sandlot team, the St. Peter’s Athletic Association, where he is credited with throwing no-hitters against Plattsburgh and Saranac Lake. His talents caught the eye of local scout Ira Thomas, who asked Hulihan to try out for the Philadelphia Athletics in 1919. Although the tryout did not yield a position for Hulihan, it introduced him to the world of professional baseball.

In the fall of 1919, Hulihan enrolled as a freshman at Middlebury College. Hulihan became a popular figure on campus, joining the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity and even being elected class president in his sophomore year. On the athletic fields he was equally impressive, playing football, basketball, and baseball. Hulihan pitched a total of three seasons for Middlebury, with his most impressive performance coming in a win against Fordham University, in which he struck out 24 batters in 12 innings pitched.

Harry Hulihan
Hulihan before a game in 1923

During his summers, Hulihan pitched in a semi-pro league out of Hartford, Connecticut. It was here that New York Giants manager John McGraw convinced Hulihan to leave Middlebury in order to turn professional. His career started slow, as Hulihan sat on the bench with the Giants for two months before being traded to the Boston Braves. It was in Boston where Hulihan got his first professional start against the Chicago Cubs on August 22nd, 1922. Although this game went in the Cubs favor, Hulihan finished the season with a 2-3 record and a respectable 3.15 ERA.

During spring training the following year, Hulihan felt something “snap” in his pitching arm. Upon further investigation, it was decided he would need tendon graft surgery to repair the problem. Unfortunately, this meant the end of Hulihan’s brief, yet promising career. The surgery technique used would go on to become the infamous “Tommy John” surgery that would help extend the careers of many later major leaguers.

Somewhat discouraged with his career ending injury, Hulihan returned to Middlebury College in 1924 to complete his degree. He resided in Central Rutland with his wife, Dorothy, to live out the remainder of his life. In 1977, his local American Legion baseball team recognized Hulihan by selecting him to throw out the ceremonial first pitch for a game played on the same field he grew up on. Both Hulihan and his wife passed away a short time apart in 1980.

Back side of Hulihan's playing card revealing his Major League Statistics

Back side of Hulihan’s playing card revealing his Major League Statistics

LINKS

Hulihan’s career statistics

Tommy John’s surgery following Hulihan’s path

1922 Washington Post game recap

1922 Los Angeles Times game recap

1923 Preseason game recap

Hulihan’s wedding announcement 

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