Candy Cummings

The Life and Career of the Inventor of the Curveball


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About the Book

One of the greatest pitchers of his era, William Arthur “Candy” Cummings was born in 1848, when baseball was in its infancy. In the 1870s, Candy’s invention, the curveball, played a transformative role and earned him a place in the Hall of Fame. Drawing on extensive research, this first full-length biography traces Candy’s New England heritage and chronicles his rise to the top, from pitching for amateur teams in mid–1860s Brooklyn to playing in the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players—the first major league—and then the newly-formed National League. A critical examination of the evidence and competing claims reveals that Cummings was, indeed, the originator of the curveball.

About the Author(s)

Stephen Robert Katz is an attorney who taught and practiced law, then served for twenty-six years in the legal office of the United Nations. A member of the Society for American Baseball Research, he lives in New York City.

Bibliographic Details

Stephen Robert Katz
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 248
Bibliographic Info: 33 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2022
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8037-8
eISBN: 978-1-4766-4459-2
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Preface 1
Author’s Notes 3
1. Origins 5
2. Brooklyn 10
3. The Crucible of Baseball and the Birth of the Curveball 16
4. The Seminarian and the Silver Ball 29
5. From the Stars to the Excelsiors 36
6. Candy Debuts the Curveball 45
7. The Ins and Outs of the Curveball 50
8. Curveball Claimants 57
9. ­Hop-Scotching to the Stars 78
10. A Star with the Stars 87
11. Candy Goes Professional 102
12. Candy Becomes a Lord 114
13. Candy’s a Pearl 121
14. Hose of a Different Color 128
15. In a Whole New League 144
16. A Tale of Two Cities 151
17. After the Big Leagues 160
18. The Skipper 166
19. (Semi-)Retirement from Baseball 172
20. Ninth Inning 176
21. Monuments 186
22. Candy’s Legacy 191
Chapter Notes 193
Bibliography: Books, Scholarly Papers, Articles, Monographs 219
Index 229

Book Reviews & Awards

• “Katz dives deep into the milieu of 1860s-1870s baseball and establishes Cummings’s importance in it. The book convinced me that Cummings does, indeed, belong in the Baseball Hall of Fame.”—David L. Fleitz, author, Eddie Cicotte: The Life and Career of the Banned Black Sox Pitcher

• “Excellent story of a very unique baseball pitcher”—Marty Lurie, historian and KNBR 680 radio host