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Bill Luhrsen

Image William Ferdinand "Wild Bill" Luhrsen, born April 14th, 1884 in Buckley, IL, was a professional baseball player from 1908-1915. He lived in North Little Rock, AR from about 1906 until his death in 1973.

Biography

Luhrsen was the son of German immigrant George Luhrsen and Catherina Langehennig. He moved to Argenta, AR a young man to live with his aunt and uncle and lived in the area for the rest of his life.

While living in Argenta in 1908, Luhrsen's began his professional baseball career began with the Argenta Shamrocks of the Arkansas State League1. From there, he went on to play with Pine Bluff and Brinkley in 1908, going 16-17 on the year. In 1909, he played with Argenta, Marianna and Alexandria, LA.

While pitching with the Albany Club of the South Atlantic League in 1913, Luhrsen was scouted by the Pittsburgh Pirates, who intended to draft him. However, when the Pirates' pitching staff was limited by injuries, Pittsburgh chose to go ahead and buy Luhrsen's contract from Albany. Luhrsen debuted on August 23rd and went on to pitch in five games, including three starts, before he was sent to Columbus2. In his cup of coffee, he performed well, going 3-1 with a 2.48 ERA.

After baseball, Luhrsen worked as a machinist and a lumber buyer in and around Little Rock, AR. He died on August 15th, 1973 in Little Rock and was buried in Edgewood Memorial Park in North Little Rock.

Excerpts

"Pitcher Luhrsen, of Argenta, hails from that town . . ."1

"Pitcher Bill Luhrsen, who for the past few weeks has been the sensation of the South Atlantic League, has been sold to the Pittsburgh Pirates, the deal with President. Dreyfuss going through late yesterday afternoon. Luhrsen was sold for immediate delivery. Everything possible was done to keep him until the close of the season, but Pittsburgh wanted him for immediate delivery, so it is very evident that they intend [on]using the youngster within the next few days. The price paid [to] Albany for Luhrsen is reported to be $3000, which is just 10 times the amount paid for him to the Selma, Cotton States League, Club a few weeks ago."3

"A new pitcher reported to manager Clarke in New York last Tuesday morning. His name is Luhrsen, and he comes from the Albany Club of the South Atlantic League. Howard Earl, a local scout, looked him over earlier in the summer and advised that a draft be put in for him. President Dreyfuss intended to act on this advice, but recently the Pirate pitching staff has been pretty thoroughly shot to pieces as the result of injuries and sickness, and Clarke was in dire need of another twirler. Accordingly, Mr. Dreyfuss made the Albany Club a cash offer for the hurler, with the understanding that if he fails to make good after a trial, he is to be returned in time to allow the minor league club to take advantage of it, if he should be drafted, while the Pirates will lose what they have paid for him. If he makes good, he will be retained and an additional payment made by President Dreyfuss. In his first time out, against the Phillies Saturday, he looked very much like a youngster worth giving every opportunity." 4

"Pitcher Bill Luhrsen, who to date has made good with the Pittsburgh team, comes from the Albany Club, in the South Atlantic League. he is a big blonde swede and contradicts John McClockey's famous assertion that light-haired players never have any nerve. He seems to have a lot of nerve, is not afraid to take a change, and knows how to pitched himself out of holes. He is the type of pitcher that all the scouts are looking for."5

"Fred Clarke, intent on discovering just what material he may depend on when he calls his Pirates together next spring, has been trying out a few of his recruits this fall and those whom he has looked over seem to measure up to big league standards in every particular. Clarke is impressed with the term shown by one of his young hurlers --William Lurhsen from the Albany team of the South Atlantic League. He has pitched two full games and part of another since he reported, and is credited with three victories. He first attempt was in Philadelphia. He went on the [illegible] with the Buccaneers in the rear, and pulled them out of the hole. Lurhsen is a spit baller, with a lot of stuff. He is not very tall, but very huskily built, somewhat on the order of Howard Camnitz, who was recently traded to the Phillies in connection with Bobby Byrne for Albert Dolan. The Pirates did not intend to buy Luhrsen but had marked him for the draft. When the hauling staff was shot to pieces on the recent Eastern invasion, President Dreyfuss made the Albany Club an offer which was accepted, and Bill reported at once. He is a nervy youth [but] is not afraid to stand up for his rights. In his game game against the Phillies, he had two strikes on one of the batsmen, and [illegible] spitball for the third one. It broke [illegible] the plate, but the umpire missed it. When Luhrsen went to the bench, he said to Catcher George Gibson: "Hereafter when I pitch a spitball, I wish you'd tell the umpire to watch for it. He'll miss a lot of those last breaks if you don't. My catcher worked it that way for me down South, and I got a fairer deal than before we tried it." All of which conveys the idea that Mr. Luhrsen has some idea of his own pitching ability, rather than of the umpires quickness of vision. He is certain to be retained for further trial in the spring, and if he continues then as he has started this fall, may earn a regular berth on the staff in 1914."6

"Bill Luhrsen, the spit ball pitcher, sold by the Albany Club to the Pittsburgh Pirates, has certainly made a favorable impression on the various sport writers who have seen him perform. He has also impressed Mr. Dreyfuss, who says he is certainly cool on the mound and may stick. His pitching percentage is 1.000 since he joined the Pirates, having won three straight games."7

"Newspaper men and rooters were amazed when Bill Luhrsen, picked up from the South, was shifted to Columbus. Luhrsen had faced four or five league clubs with unusual success. When a press dispatch from the Ohio town conveyed news of a possible transfer of Luhrsen it was commented upon doubtingly by every sporting writer. They couldn't realize that a man with the credit of three wins out of four contests would be cast adrift. This proved to be the case, however. Luhrsen went back to the minors because he has foot faults, that he unconsciously tips off a base runner when he is about to throw over to the first bag. A trifle, to be sure, but one thoroughly glued into his pitching motions and difficult to eradicate. The Pittsburgh management announced that it had no string attached to Luhrsen, but nevertheless fans suspect that an eye will be kept on him."7

"Pitcher Luhrsen of the Pittsburgh Nationals was released today to the Columbus American Association club in completion of the deal whereby Pittsburgh recently secured Pitcher McQuillan from Columbus."2

"Allen also purchased from the Pittsburgh National League Club the release of pitcher Bill Luhrsen, who made a sensation during his National League debut late in the 1913 season by winning four straight game right off the reel . . . Luhrsen's home is in Argenta, just across the river from Little Rock, and he was anxious to play here [Little Rock]. Last year Pittsburgh farmed him to the Albany Club, of the New York State League, where he was the only pitcher who won more games than he lost. He started his career in the Arkansas State League in 1909."8

"William F. Luhrsen, a pitcher who had a 3-1 record for the Pirates in 1913, the only year he was in the majors died recently in North Little Rock, Ark. He was 89. Luhrsen was known as Wild Bill, a nickname he requested to be inscribed on his tombstone. His only loss for the Pirates was to Hall of Famer Christy Matthewson. Luhrsen pitched also for Great Bend, Superior, Huntsville, Mobile, Selma, Albany, GA., Columbus, GA., Omaha, Sioux City, Little Rock, and Sherman."9

Gamelog

The following is a gamelog of Luhrsen's 1913 appearances with Pittsburgh:



Stats

Major League statistics at Baseball-Reference.com.

Minor League statistics at Baseball-Reference.com.

1. Sporting Life, 6/27/1908
2. Dallas Morning News, 9/21/1913
3. Sporting Life, 8/23/1913
4. The Sporting News, 8/28/1913
5. Sporting Life, 9/13/1913
6. The Sporting News, 9/18/1913
7. Sporting Life, 9/27/1913
8. Sporting Life, 3/13/1915
9. The Sporting News, 10/13/1973