42 and still winning

Here’s a photo from the June 17 1929 edition of the Toronto Daily Star of a baseball pitcher who was still winning games in the minor leagues at an advanced age.

Rube Benton (1890-1937) was officially just short of 39 years old, not 42, when he appeared in this photograph. (Baseball players often lied about their ages, but all the records that I saw listed his birth year as 1890.) He spent less than a year in the minor leagues before being purchased by the Cincinnati Reds in 1910, and he pitched for the Reds, the New York Giants, and then the Reds again over a 16-year major league career. He apparently was known for his wild lifestyle; his 1914 contract contained a clause that required him to abstain from alcohol and tobacco.

After his major league career ended, Benton started pitching for the Minneapolis Millers in 1926 (a team playing at the Class AA minor league level). He remained with the Millers until 1933, playing until he was (officially) 43 years old.

Benton was involved in three auto accidents in his lifetime. In 1913, his motorcycle collided with a trolley and he suffered a broken jaw. In 1930, another accident resulted in a fractured skull and injuries to both hands; he was unconscious for three days. His third accident, in 1937, killed him.

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