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TSD History Corner: Vic Willis

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Victor Gazaway Willis, 1876-1947, who was born in Cecil County, Maryland but grew up and bloomed in Newark, Delaware was one heck of a right-handed pitcher. He played for the Newark Academy High School and then played on the University of Delaware’s Blue Hen Baseball Team. It should be noted that the University of Delaware has had ten of its players play in the Major Leagues, but only one has ever been elected into Baseball’s Hall of Fame, and that honor goes to Vic Willis.

 

He played one season for the University of Delaware and served as captain of the team in 1897. He was elected into Delaware’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1977.

 

Willis was inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame {HOF} in 1995 by the Veterans Committee. The Veterans Committee also dubbed him the Delaware Peach.This was also the year that those two great players of the Phillies, Richie Ashburn and Mike Schmidt were inducted into the HOF.

 

Willis made his debut into baseball’s Major League in 1898. He played for the Boston Beaneaters in the National League. As a rookie in 1898, Willis won twenty five games as a key player on the pennant winning Boston Beaneaters, which was one of the top teams of the nineteenth century. To his credit he pitched a no-hitter against Washington in his rookie year. In 1909 in what was to be his penultimate season he won over twenty games for the world champion Pittsburgh Pirates.

 

The Boston Sunday Journal reported that, “Willis has speed and the most elusive curves. His drop is so wonderful that, if anyone hits it, it is generally considered a fluke.”

 

When he retired he purchased and operated the Washington House Hotel in Newark, Delaware. The Washington House Hotel was on par with today’s first-class hotels, but over the years it morphed into different taverns and its location is now the Washington House Condominium.

 

Willis died in Elkton, Maryland in 1947 a victim of a stroke. He is buried in St. John Cemetery, Newark Delaware.

 

Today’s TSD History Corner comes from Alex F. Wysocki, who is a Veteran of WWII, served in the Pacific Theater and was part of the original occupation of Japan. He has a passion for the history of state he was born in, Delaware.

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