By Ron Bailey
Higginsport’s own World Series winning pitcher
Did you know that a Cincinnati Reds World Series winning pitcher was from our area? In fact, his 2.56 career ERA is 49th on all-time list of all MLB pitchers of all time. I am speaking of Harry Franklin “Slim” Sallee who was born in Higginsport, Ohio and spent his life after baseball in the quaint village on US 52. Slim Salle won 21 games for the 1919 Cincinnati Reds and won a game for the Reds in the infamous “Black Sox World Series” against the Chicago White Sox on which the movie “Eight Men Out” was based on. It seems that he honed his baseball skills as a youth, by knocking cans and bottles off fence posts with rocks, earning the nickname of “Scatter.” His nickname that stuck with him all during his major league baseball career was “Slim” as his 6 – 3 feet and 148-pound body earned him that moniker
Slim pitched in two World Series, like I stated, withthe Reds in the 1919 and with the New York Giants in 1917 and ironically both against the Chicago White Sox. I did some research on his career and his control was amazing. Consider this stat, in the 1919 season he only walked 20 batters, so that means he won more games (21) than issuing base on balls. The Higginsport native led the National League in bases on balls per 9 innings pitched (0.82) in 1918. He also led the National League in strikeout-to-walk ratio (2.75) in 1918. So, I must say his rock throwing days on the banks of the Ohio River sure payed off.
The left hander pitched 14 seasons in the major leagues with the New York Giants, Cincinnati Reds and the St. Louis Cardinals. In the iconic Cardinals’ franchise history, Sallee ranks 3rd all-time in earned run average (2.67), 7th in innings pitched (1905.3), 8th in games started (215) and wins (106, tied with Adam Wainwright), and 7th in losses (107).
Slim Sallee also after his playing days coached the Higginsport local baseball team and they went undefeated in the 1947 season. Slim passed away in Higginsport in 1950 at the age of 65. The baseball field in Higginsport was renamed “Salle Field” in 1995. The next time you are cruising down US 52, just remember a great major league pitcher from Higginsport, Ohiowho never forgot his hometown.