After pitching briefly for Cincinnati in 1894, this southpaw native of Dayton, Kentucky signed with the Pirates in 1897 and became a four-time twenty game winner by the time he was 27-years-old. He teamed with Happy Jack Chesbro and Deacon Phillipe to give the Bucs three of the top starting pitchers in all of baseball at the turn of the century and that trio led Pittsburgh to two straight NL Pennants in 1901 and ’02, just before there was a World Series. But during that 1902 season, Tannehill was involved in a bizarre incident that would end up having a dramatic impact on New York Yankee franchise history.
After a Pirate game in August of that season, Tannehill got into a fight with one of his own teammates and dislocated his throwing shoulder. Pirate owner Barney Dreyfuss accompanied his injured pitcher to the hospital where Tannehill was administered ether so that a doctor could maneuver the injured shoulder back into its socket. While under the influences of the anesthetic, the patient started talking and one of the shocking things he told Dreyfuss was that he and several of his teammates, including Chesbro had been secretly talking with Ban Johnson, the president of the new American League. Johnson had offered the players $1,000 apiece to jump to the new league in1903. Dreyfuss responded by giving Tannehill, Chesbro and Pirate catcher Jack O’Connor their unconditional release and all three became members of the 1903 New York Highlanders, an AL team that had just been relocated to New York from Baltimore.
Chesbro won 21 games for the new club, but Tannehill struggled in his new surroundings and finished 15-15. He hated pitching in New York’s Hilltop Park complaining that a cold Hudson River wind that constantly blew across the ball field was harmful to his pitching arm. He also had a tough time getting along with his new manager, Clark Griffith and that relationship suffered an irreparable break when Griffith suspended Tannehill’s best buddy, O’Connor during the season.
The unhappy southpaw requested a trade back to Cincinnati, where the air was warmer and he could be near his family in Kentucky. Instead, in December of 1903, New York traded him to the Red Sox. Even though it was not his first choice, the change of scenery and getting away from Griffith did wonders for Tannehill’s pitching. He became a 20-game winner for a fifth and sixth time during his first two seasons in Beantown and in the process, got some revenge on his old Hilltopper skipper, when his 21-11 season in 1904 was instrumental in helping Boston edge out New York for the 1904 AL Pennant.
He continued pitching till 1911 and then became a minor league umpire and major league coach after his playing days were over. He passed away in 1956, at the age of 84.
|PIT (6 yrs)||116||58||.667||2.75||192||171||20||149||17||5||1508.0||1561||663||461||11||243||466||1.196|
|BOS (5 yrs)||62||38||.620||2.50||116||106||10||85||14||1||885.2||836||332||246||24||154||342||1.118|
|WSH (2 yrs)||3||5||.375||3.69||13||11||2||7||1||0||92.2||96||44||38||1||28||22||1.338|
|CIN (2 yrs)||1||1||.500||7.02||6||2||4||1||0||1||33.1||43||37||26||1||19||8||1.860|
|NYY (1 yr)||15||15||.500||3.27||32||31||1||22||2||0||239.2||258||123||87||3||34||106||1.218|