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The war was almost over, but deadly combat continued.
“I never got shot at, but I got scared plenty when those eighty-eights (German artillery shells) started going off over my head,” he remembered.6 He was with General George S.
The sportswriter Red Smith wrote that Blackwell was “built like a slouchy flyrod, being composed largely of arms and neck and ears.” Another writer, Joe Williams, thought his delivery looked like “a Picasso impression of an octopus in labor.”2 Hitters thought he was trouble.
Rarely is a pitcher so fearsome that he can’t be ignored. For a single shining season, 1947, he was the most dominant pitcher on the planet, but he pitched for one losing Cincinnati team after another while fighting poor health and chronic shoulder pain.
However, as the saying went, “There’s a war on.” Blackwell was drafted into the army in January 1943.
When Smith asked where he could see this phenom, Mc Kechnie replied glumly, “Germany.”7 Blackwell pitched a no-hitter in an army game in Nuremberg shortly before he was shipped home.
Arriving in Tampa three weeks late, he worried about whether he was ready to face big league hitters.
Batters weren’t called cowards when they admitted they were afraid of him.
Some of the best—Ted Williams, Joe Di Maggio, Ralph Kiner, Jackie Robinson, Roy Campanella—moaned about facing him.