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Tom Kirkpatrick

Baseball ∙ Beaver Falls

 

 

 

 

Being the youngest of 13 children, Tom Kirkpatrick did whatever he could to help his family. As a youth, he would caddy and use his tip money to buy clothes. As he entered high school, Tom discovered a talent that could also enhance his familyís fortunes: an outstanding arm. At age 15 Tom already had an all star season behind him as an American Legion pitcher with Rochester, and he was so good that Pie Traynor and Pirates head scout George Sisler would transport him from his Beaver Falls home to pitch batting practice for the Bucs. As a sophomore in 1952, Tom was the teamís leading pitcher with a 5-1 record, with his one loss to Elwood City, a game he pitched for the entire 14 innings with 19 strikeouts. In a playoff for the section title, Tom threw a one hitter and Beaver Falls won their first ever section championship. The Tigers won the county title, too, defeating New Brighton and their star player, Tito Francona, who would later tell friends that Tom was one of the toughest pitchers he ever faced. Fresh off a nomination to the Pittsburgh Sun-Telegraph All Star Team, Tom led Beaver Falls to its first ever Legion title and had a no hitter in the state playoffs. In 1953 the 6'-4" star was a unanimous Blue-Gold All Star and played in the state East-West game, where he was chosen third most valuable player by a team of 38 scouts. Tom decided to go professional his senior year, signing with the Detroit Tigers organization and playing from Mexico to Canada the next four years. One scout was quoted as stating that Tomís fastball was the equal of that of Bob Feller. However, injuries plagued Tom in the minors and a torn rotator cuff basically ended his playing days in 1957. In 1964, Tom was asked by the Aliquippa All Star Team to help them in a New Castle tournament, and Tom threw complete game shutouts in both ends of a doubleheader and then pitched the next day. Tom was named to the state All Star team, despite just playing three games.