Darrell Elijah Blanton, or "Cy," was a 5’11" screwball pitcher from Waurika, Oklahoma. Born on July 6th, 1908, the right hander made his first professional appearance with the "C" level Shawnee Robins of the Western Association, going 12-16 in 1930. The next two seasons were spent at the "C" level, with the Greensboro Patriots of the (3-5), the Western Association’s Springfield Red Wings and Independence Producers (12-8), and the Joplin/Hutchinson Miners (18-15). 1933 would see him promoted to the "A"level Western League St. Joseph Saints (21-7).
In 1934, Blanton started the season with the "AA" level International League Albany Senators (11-8, 3.86). He was called up to pitch for the Pirates on September 23rd, allowing five hits and four walks over eight innings. He struck out five, but took the 3-2 loss to the Chicago Cubs. He wouldn’t make another minor league appearance for seven seasons.
1935 would mark Blanton’s first full Major League season. In his first start on April 19th, he pitched a complete game shutout, allowing one hit, one walk and striking out six in a 3-0 win over the St. Louis Cardinals. After 10 games (including nine starts), he had a 7-2 record with a save and a 1.00 ERA. Eventually, he completed 23 of his 30 starts for the Pirates, leading the National League with a 2.58 ERA, 7.8 hits allowed per nine innings, four shutouts, a 159 ERA+, and a 1.081 WHIP. He finished 15th in the season ending NL MVP voting. Pittsburgh posted an 86-67 record, 13.5 games behind the pennant winning Chicago Cubs.
In 1936, Blanton appeared in 44 games, finishing 15 of his 32 starts. He ranked third in the league with 127 strikeouts and again led the NL with four shutouts. In the first game of a doubleheader on June 20th, he pitched nine innings of shutout, four hit ball, allowing a walk and striking out five in a 6-0 win over the Philadelphia Phillies. Just a week later, on June 28th, he pitched another nine innings of four hit, one walk ball, striking out six and allowing two unearned runs in an 11-2 shellacking of the Boston Braves. Despite this, he finished the season with a 13-15 record and a 3.51 ERA. Pittsburgh again finished fourth in the NL, at 84-70, 14 games back of the New York Giants.
1937 would see Blanton lead the NL with 34 rotation starts. He finished 14 of them, again including four shutouts, finishing at 14-12 with a 3.30 ERA. He would also make his first all-star appearance. On April 20th, he pitched a complete game shutout, allowing five hits and a walk and striking out three in a 5-0 win over the Cubs. At 86-68, the Pirates finished 10 games behind the repeat pennant winning New York Giants.
In 1938, Blanton completed 10 of 26 starts, also making three relief appearances and posting an acceptable 11-7 record with a 3.70 ERA. He pitched his only shutout of the season on August 16th, allowing eight hits and striking out five in a 10-0 win over the Cincinnati Reds. Pittsburgh continued to improve on seasons past, finishing just two games behind the Chicago Cubs with an 86-64 record.
Blanton missed May through August with an injury, appearing in only 10 games for the Bucs in 1939, going 2-3, 4.29. He made six starts, completing only a 9-5 win over the Brooklyn Dodgers on August 27th in the second game of a doubleheader. He allowed 11 hits and a walk with three earned runs, striking out three. Pittsburgh finished deep in the second division at 68-85, 28.5 games out of first. He was granted free agency a month into the 1940 season.
Blanton signed on with the Philadelphia Phillies in May, 1940. He pitched to middling success over the next three seasons, compiling a 10-20 win/loss record and a 4.55 ERA. He had one shutout over his time in Philly, a 2-0 victory over the Pirates on June 7th, 1941. He allowed eight hits and a walk, striking out three. He appeared for three seasons with the Hollywood Stars in the Pacific Coast League from 1943 through 1945, going 13-14. The Stars suspended him for being out of shape in May of 1945, forcing Blanton to return home to Oklahoma. According to the Baseball Reference Bullpen:
By this time in life, Blanton's way had begun taking a toll on him. Amazingly, Cy got a letter from Uncle Sam, asking him to report for pre-induction tests. Of course he did not pass, and in fact was recommended by doctors to get more tests and treatment. Cy returned home to Oklahoma, where he was eventually admitted to the Central State Hospital in Norman on August 31. The painful end came on September 13, 1945, just 13 days after entering the hospital. He was just 37 years old.
All-Time Statline: Six seasons, 58-51, 3.28 ERA, 155 games, 129 starts, 63 CG, 13 shutouts, 955.1 innings pitched, 945 hits allowed, walked 246, struck out 508, 1.247 WHIP, 12.8 wins above replacement.
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