Black Aces| Jack Flaherty Has An Outside Shot To Join One Of The Rarest Fraternities In Baseball

Black Aces| Jack Flaherty Has An Outside Shot To Join One Of The Rarest Fraternities In Baseball

Through the first month and a half of the Major League Baseball season, Cardinals’ pitcher Jack Flaherty is on his way to joining one of the rarest fraternities in baseball: Black Aces.

The title of ace is given to a very select few in the game of baseball.  It comes with high expectations.  When an ace is on the mound, it is win day; period.  They stem the tide and stop losing streaks while also being able to be called on to perform in the biggest moments of the season and take down the best hitter on the planet.  

 

You Don’t Know Jack!

 

 

The Black pitcher, in general, is a rare sight to see in our game.  We see many of our MLB Bros showcase their athleticism while roaming in the outfield and even more recently have seen them anchoring defenses throughout the infield, most notably Gold Glove shortstop J.P. Crawford.

The term “Black Aces” derived from a book, “Baseball’s Only African-American Twenty Game Winners” written by former pitcher Jim “Mudcat” Grant, who was the first 20-game winner in the American League when he did it for the Minnesota Twins in 1965.  

To qualify for the fraternity of Black Aces, you must win 20 games in a season.  Looking at the current landscape of the game, there is one pitcher who looks like he will be on his way to having his own Probate this season, and it’s Flaherty.

The former 34th overall pick in the 2014 draft currently sits alone on the top of the throne for the Major League lead in wins.  His record stands undefeated at 7-0 this season with a 2.47 ERA.  He recently became the first Cardinals pitcher since Bob Gibson in 1965 to record a win in seven of his first eight games while having an ERA under three. 

 Flaherty will be compared to the late Gibson – who passed away last year at the age of 84 to cancer – throughout his entire career. 

READ MORE: The Deaths Of Bullet Bob Gibson & Base Burglar Lou Brock…

Gibson pitched for the Cardinals during his entire 17-year career and is one of the original Black Aces in the game of baseball.  He recorded five 20 win seasons during his time in St. Louis, which is second most all-time only trailing Ferguson Jenkins who had seven such seasons.

 

 

 

Flaherty is trying to be the newest member of the Black Ace fraternity since David Price joined the group in 2012.  

Recently retired future Hall of Famer C.C. Sabathia joined the group in 2010 and former pitcher Dontrelle Willis did so as well in 2005.  Before then, the feat had not been reached since 1990 when it was accomplished by Dave Stewart who remarkably completed four straight 20 win seasons from 1987-1990.

 

 

READ MORE: What Is A Black Ace? | CC Sabathia Blesses David Price With Some Brotherly Drip

Early this year, Sabathia presented Price with a custom sweatshirt and joggers.  The logo has an Ace of spade between the two C’s with a B hovering over the Ace of Spade.  

The numbers Flaherty is putting up this season have put him in the category of potential starters for the National League All-Star team in Colorado this summer, which won’t be easy in a National League that has the best pitcher in baseball – Mets’ Jacob Degrom – and the Padres’ Yu Darvish who has one of the deepest bags of pitches and the Brewers’ Brandon Woodruff whose strikeout-to-walk ratio is incredible. Hence, winning and continued quality starts will be key for Flaherty to give himself the starting nod.

After a shaky start on Opening Day, Flaherty has responded with a 1.47 ERA in his last 43 innings pitched.  He has only allowed one home run in the past seven games and has currently registered six quality starts in a row. 

 He is yet to walk more than two batters in a start this year and in his last four starts, he has at least six strikeouts.  Also this year, he joined the “Pitchers Who Rake” club when he hit his first career home run while pitching seven scoreless innings against the Rockies earlier in May.

 

 

The Black Ace Fraternity is ready to welcome Flaherty with open arms.  He is closing in on the halfway point to be allowed in the club, and there’s a possibility that he’ll break past the bouncer before seasons end.  

His next chance to start comes today as he will be on the mound in front of the St. Louis faithful taking on the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Last time he faced them, he notched a season-high nine strikeouts on May 1st.

What Is A Black Ace? | CC Sabathia Blesses David Price With Some Brotherly Drip

What Is A Black Ace? | CC Sabathia Blesses David Price With Some Brotherly Drip

Since retiring, former MLB Black Knight CC Sabathia has a media and lifestyle brand named Roots of Fight which celebrates the improbable achievements of history’s most legendary athletes and their unique battle for greatness. 

CC presented  David Price with some special drip in the form of a sweatshirt and joggers. The logo has an Ace of spade between the two C’s with a B hovering over the Ace of Spade. 

What’s  A Black Ace?

The logo represents the Black Aces of MLB. That exclusive fraternity that hasn’t had a member enter since 2012 when Price went 20-5 for the Toronto Blue Jays. In many ways, Sabathia and Price are brothers beyond baseball and through their historical achievements have a unique bond that will tie them together in MLB lore. 

“The term “Black Aces,” derived from the book, Baseball’s Only African-American Twenty-Game Winners, written by former major leaguer, and group member, Jim “Mudcat” Grant, the first African-American 20-game winner in the American League (Minnesota Twins, 1965) and the first African-American to win a World Series Game in the American League (1965). 

The book is a historically accurate description of the lives of the thirteen African-American 20-game winners in the Majors that existed when the book was released in 2007.

The 15 Black Aces 

Canadian-born Ferguson Jenkins won 20-games or more a remarkable seven times (1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1974)

 

 

Bullet Bob Gibson did it five times (1965, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1970)

 

 

Dave Stewart did it four times (1987, 1988, 1989, 1990)

Don Newcombe (1951, 1955 and 1956), and Vida Blue (1971, 1973, 1975) both won 20 or more games three times.

 

 

Dontrelle Willis (2005), CC Sabathia (2010), David Price (2012),  Al Downing (1971), Dwight Gooden (1985), Sam Jones (1959), Mike Norris (1980), J.R. Richard (1976), Earl Wilson (1967) and of course, Mudcat Grant (1965) all did it once.

 

 

Respect Dave Stewart

Dave Stewart is the last Black pitcher to post multiple 20-win seasons. To put this into perspective, in the history of Major League Baseball only five black pitchers have eclipsed the 20 wins mark multiple times in a career.

 

 

Two of the five are in the Baseball Hall of Fame: Jenkins, who won more than 250 games in a 14-year career, and Gibson, who did it five times in a span of only six years. Gibson was so unhittable in 1968, that MLB lowered the mound to make it easier for hitters to deal with such Black dominance 

Newcombe of the Brooklyn Dodgers, who was the first black pitcher to ever win 20 (1951), and Vida Blue of the Oakland Athletics during the 1970s, each reached the achievement three times.

 

 

Price and CC are the last of MLB’s Black Aces. 

Sabathia went 21-7  with the Yankees in 2010 after signing a huge free agent deal and then leading the Yankees to their first World Series in almost a decade in 2009. Price went 20-5 as the ace workhorse for the Toronto Blue Jays in 2012. 

 

 

With the way pitching philosophy and culture has changed in the past decade, we may never see another Black or Brown 20-game winner again. So we must hold all Black Aces in the highest esteem because it’s one of the rarest achievements in baseball.