Witt Orison “Lefty” Guise

I bought a photo of this man recently, because it was an interesting photo, not having ever heard of him.

guise

I looked up his name, and found little. But there is this, from the Conlon collection of baseball photos:

“Although his major league career consisted of only two games, Witt ‘Lefty’ Guise, a southpaw from Arkansas, had to overcome steep odds to do that much. After his second year in the minors leagues (1931), he blew out his shoulder in a fishing boat mishap, and he couldn’t throw at all for several years. Eventually he started pitching semi-pro ball, developing a knuckleball and screwball to compensate for loss of velocity. It took until 1939 for him to get a professional contract, but in 1939-40 he had a combined record of 28-13 and an ERA under 3, so the Cincinnati Reds brought him to Cincinnati during the September pennant drive in 1940. In his first outing, on September 3, he pitched 4 1/3 innings of relief against the Cardinals, allowing six hits but just one run. Ten days later he got another chance, relieving at the Polo Grounds in the third inning with the Reds ahead by a run. He pitched into the sixth inning, yielding only an unearned run, and would have been awarded the Win under today’s guidelines. On that day, the reliever who followed Guise got the credit, but his consolation prize was a single off future Hall of Famer Carl Hubbell. He continued his minor league career through 1951, minus four years of World War II military service, and finished with 117 wins, 111 of them after his shoulder injury.”

Guise had his contract bought by the Reds while pitching for the Columbia, S.C., farm team, in the South Atlantic (Sally) League, in late August, 1940. He’d gone 13-5 for Columbia, and was 32, a lefty knuckleballer. He was not on the postseason roster when the Reds won the World Series, and 1940 was his only MLB season.

I did find a story about that single off Hubbell in Three Men on Third: A Book of Baseball Anecdotes, Oddities and Curiosities by H. Allen Smith, Ira L. Smith and Leo Herschfield (2000). Guise, on a 2-2 count against Hubbell at the Polo Grounds, knocked a single through the infield between first and second.

The book quotes him saying: “A man like me, getting a hit off Hubbell-it’s a miracle. I got the ball-gonna save it to show people-the one I hit off Hubbell. Lord, what a good feeling! I just feel like doing something good for somebody. Believe I will.”

He sent a dollar to the Salvation Army. Soon he’d be a staff sergeant in the real Army, in World War II, and that’s how he’s identified on his gravestone in Little Rock National Cemetery.

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Published in: on March 15, 2013 at 3:09 pm  Comments (1)  
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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. This is a great little story, Arne. Your research is always top-notch.
    Cheers,
    Bill


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