Hy Cohen isn’t a Chicago Cubs household name. The Brooklyn, New York native did make it to Wrigley Field, though. The pitcher made his Major League debut with the Cubs in 1955, but only appeared in seven big league games.
Today (January 29) is Hyman Cohen’s 88th birthday. He was born in Brooklyn and went on to play baseball at Brooklyn College. Why dedicate a blog to a pitcher from the 1950’s that saw the mound just seven times for the Chicago Cubs?
When my collection was focused on through-the-mail (TTM) autographs from 2007-2009, I accumulated around 1,000 Cubs autographs. Many of them were purged when I left the hobby shortly thereafter. A few cards I kept. Hy Cohen was one of them.
At the time I didn’t realize Cohen had any baseball cards. So, I sent him a Cubs sticker and asked him to personalize it with, “Macomb’s biggest Cubs fan.” I was living in Macomb, Illinois at the time. He obliged and sent back the Cubs sticker along with a couple signed blank index cards.
That’s an example of how deep my TTM collecting went. Hy Cohen. A google search did reveal he has a Jewish Major Leaguers card.
I check Baseball Reference almost everyday to see which former (and current) Cubs are celebrating birthdays, and when I saw Cohen’s name I felt I had to write about the mostly forgotten former Cub.
Cohen was signed by the New York Yankees before the 1948 baseball season and spent two years in the organization. The Cubs drafted him from the Yankees in December 1949 and climbed his way up the ranks.
It’s also hard to fathom what baseball players went through more than a half century ago. Technology was television and a rotary dial telephone. Also, baseball players weren’t flying from point A to point B upon call ups.
In a July 12, 1954 game against Omaha, Cohen threw 5 1/3 innings of no-hit ball earning his eighth straight victory.
Searching through newspaper archives, I found a couple photos that hit me at a personal level. Along with my Cohen TTM autograph, I also once owned a plethora of Vern Morgan memorabilia, including his contracts, personal photos, and letters. Most of that was sold to a museum in Morgan’s hometown Richmond, Virginia.
Here’s a shot from Cohen’s viewpoint. How cool are the outfield fence signs?
Cohen’s performance in Des Moines in 1954 earned him a call-up with Chicago for the 1955 season. Cohen went 16-6 with a 2.22 ERA in 211 innings pitched.
He made his MLB debut on April 17, 1955 in relief of starter Harry Perkowski against the St. Louis Cardinals. The Redbirds scored 10 runs in the first inning, four against Cohen in relief. Cohen pitched seven innings and gave up seven earned runs.
The only start Cohen made in the big leagues came on May 1, 1955 against the Phillies in Philadelphia. Cohen lasted just three innings in the win giving up five earned runs on six hits. Just a few weeks later, June 2, 1955, Cohen threw his last pitch on a big league mound. Cohen played an additional three seasons in the minor leagues.