Horlen, Joe : Jews In Sports @ Virtual Museum

Horlen, Joe

Joel Edward Horlen

Joe "Hard Luck" Horlen is a classic example of a hurler who was far better than his won-lost record would imply. Joe, an outstanding control pitcher who converted to Judaism, had a fine 12-year major league career with the Chicago White Sox (1961-1971) and Oakland A's (1972). For five consecutive seasons (1964-1968), Joe had an ERA of under 3.00; but he won more than 13 games only once in that stretch, as he pitched for one of the worst-hitting teams in the majors.

In 1963, Horlen had a no-hitter broken up with one out in the ninth. Four years later, he led the league in ERA and shutouts; won 19 games; tossed a no-hitter -- and still did not receive the Cy Young Award which, statistically, he deserved. After retiring in 1972, Horlen became a pitching coach who once told a minor league prospect, "For each guy you strike out, you pay me five bucks." Good advice for young pitchers who want to learn longevity over glamour.

Birth and Death Dates:
b. August 14, 1937

Career Highlights:
Before playing in the majors, Horlen was named American Baseball Coaches Association All-America second team as he helped lead Oklahoma State to the College World Series in 1959. Two years later, he broke into the bigs with the Chicago White Sox, appearing in five games and going 1-3. The next season, he was a regular in the Chisox rotation, and remained there for the next nine years. Joe appeared in over 30 games in every season but one; he was a model of consistency as a pitcher.

Horlen had a one-hitter in 1963 against the Senators when his no-hit bid was broken up in the ninth inning with one out. In 1964, Joe was magnificent, with a 1.88 ERA (second in the AL). He also finished first in the league in walks and hits/nine innings pitched (8.41), and hits allowed/nine innings pitched (6.07). Despite all this obvious excellence, though, Horlen only finished with a record of 13-9, simply because his team had enormous difficulty scoring runs.

By now, Joe was nicknamed "Hard Luck" Horlen; he continued to have a terrific ERA year after year, but with little to show for it. In 1965, he went only 13-13 despite a sterling 2.88 ERA; the next year, he went only 10-13 with an even better 2.43 ERA! Finally, in 1967, the White Sox provided some runs when Horlen was on the mound, and he had the best season of his career. An All-Star that year, Joe was among the league leaders in every major pitching category -- he led the league in ERA with 2.06 and shutouts (six) and had a record of 19-7 (second in the AL in winning percentage - .731).

Despite these numbers, Horlen finished second in the voting for the Cy Young Award (the first time the AL gave out its own award) to Jim Lonborg (of the pennant-winning Red Sox). Many believed Horlen deserved the award over Lonborg; Joe even finished fourth in the MVP voting, the highest of any pitcher. He had started the season 10-1 in his first 14 starts, but saved his best game for the end of the season. On September 10, Joe pitched a no-hitter against the Detroit Tigers in the opening game of a double header!

Horlen pitched another four seasons for the White Sox, but he could not repeat the success he had during the 1967 season. In 1968, he had an ERA of 2.37, but a record of just 12-14, as the White Sox hitters again failed to support him. Before the 1972 season, Joe was sent to the Oakland A's, where he was utilized mainly in relief (one of his teammates was Mike Epstein). Joe appeared in 32 games and had an ERA of 3.00 for the A's, who finished first in the AL Western Division, then defeated the Detroit Tigers in the ALCS, and the Cincinnati Reds in the World Series. Having earned his World Series ring, Horlen retired following the season. Joe finished with a career record of 116-117, which hardly reflects the level of excellence indicated by his lifetime ERA of 3.11.

Career Dates:
Horlen pitched for the Chicago White Sox, 1961-1971, and the Oakland A's in 1972.


Physical description:
6'0", 170 pounds

Career Statistics:
Wins: 116
Losses: 117
Winning pct.: .498

ERA: 3.11

Games: 361
Games Started: 290
Complete Games: 59

Innings Pitched: 2,002.0
Hits Allowed: 1,829
Bases-on-Balls: 554
Strike Outs: 1,065

Shut-outs: 18

Relief Pitching
Wins: 6
Losses: 4
Saves: 4

At-bats: 618
Hits: 83
Home Runs: 0
Batting Average: .134

Fielding Statistics
Put-outs: 159
Assists: 421
Errors: 16
Double Plays: 17

Total Chances per Game: 1.7
Fielding avg: .973

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