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We may be witnessing Nerd Baseball history here. Could Danny MacFayden, pictured here on his 1933 Goudey baseball card, be the very first nerdy baseball player? There’s no way to know for sure, but the biographical information on the back of the card gives us a little insight: “First pitcher in the American League to wear spectacles.” MacFayden’s glasses definitely mark him as a Nerd Baseball trailblazer, as does his professor-like appearance. His nickname was “Deacon Danny.”
A question remains: The description of MacFayden as the first American League pitcher to wear glasses implies that a National League pitcher or non-pitcher from either league wore glasses before MacFayden did. If so, who was it and was he as nerdy as MacFayden?
MacFayden had a long and decent career, pitching for 17 seasons (1926-43) with a career 101 ERA+ and a 132-159 record. Among other teams, he pitched for both the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees and was a member of the Yankees’ 1932 World Series championship team, although he didn’t pitch in the postseason. His best season came in 1936 with the Boston Bees, when he went 17-13 with a 2.87 ERA (134 ERA+) and finished 9th in the MVP voting.
According to the back of the card, MacFayden was a pitcher for Somerville High School in Somerville, Massachusetts, where he went undefeated. In a high school game that went 12 innings, MacFayden struck out 33 batters and allowed only 4 hits.
Tags: 1933, 1933 Goudey, Boston Bees, Boston Red Sox, Danny MacFayden, ERA+, glasses, Massachusetts, nerd, New York Yankees, Possibly the first nerd baseball player ever, Somerville, Somerville High School, spectacles