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Here are their stories…and please, if you know of anyone else who fits this description, let me know.
Skip Lockwood got a taste of the big leagues as a third baseman, then went back to the minors and played two more years before being converted to pitching.But to the extent he’s remembered today it’s usually for his racist verbal abuse of Jackie Robinson in Jackie’s first major league season. All but forgotten is Chapman’s return to the major leagues as a pitcher after going to the minor leagues to manage.At that time he was believed to be the first former infielder or outfielder to have gone from the majors to the minors, then come back to the majors as a hurler.He was managing in Richmond and they ran out of pitchers and he said he’d pitch.” Chapman went on to pitch 95 innings for the Colts in 1942, posting a 6-3 record with a 1.71 ERA. This was the account of the incident in The Sporting News issue of October 8: The trouble started when the Colt manager was called out on a play at first base…Verbal exchanges followed, which resulted in Chapman being ordered out of the game, whereupon, it is alleged, “he informed Umpire Case that he would sock him, if ejected. “The Richmond pilot didn’t like Umpire Case’s decision,” according to the Times-Dispatch report, “and when he continued to voice disapproval with [Portsmouth] at the bat, Case ordered him out of the game.But he didn’t pitch at all in 1943, because he was suspended for the entire season. Advised that he was out, Chapman struck Case several times in the face,” testimony showed. The hot-tempered Richmond manager then tore into Case with both hands swinging.But he had reached the majors as a pitcher and was turned into an outfielder at the big league level.
What’s much more unusual is for a player to make the conversion to the mound his major league career.
“The manager was just wild enough to be good and effective,” wrote Laurence Leonard, “and, after hitting [Bill] Kramer, the first batter to face him, he fanned five and walked four.” Leonard didn’t make any kind of a big deal about Chapman using himself as a pitcher.
Two years later, when Chapman was due to make his major league pitching debut, he was quoted in an AP story: “Little did I think, when I started to pitch one day in 1942 because my Richmond club had five double-headers in six days, that I would succeed in making a career of it.” [ADDED 8/24/15: On checking the Times-Dispatch, this turns out to be a bit of an exaggeration.
Jack Harshman got to the majors as a first baseman, went back to the minors and put up a 40-homer season, then decided his route back to the bigs was on the hill.
Johnny Lindell had some good seasons as an outfielder, then went down to the minors to pitch for two years and came back to the majors as a full-time hurler at age 35, leading the National League in walks in 1953.
Chapman was released twice in 1941, finishing the season with a .237 batting average, and at the age of 32 he went to the minor leagues to make a living.