National Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Eppa Rixey was born on May 3, 1891. Rixey played for the Philadelphia Phillies (NL) and the Cincinnati Reds (NL) during a career that spanned 21 years. He was nicknamed "Jeptha" by a sportswriter who liked the way that it sounded when spoken between "Eppa" and "Rixey." Until his record was surpassed in 1959 by Warren Spahn, his 266 victories were the most by a south paw in the history of the National League.
Rixey attended the University of Virginia, earning a Bachelors degree in 1912 and a Masters degree in 1914. He was urged to try out for the baseball team by Charlie Rigler, a former National League umpire newly hired to coach baseball at the school. He made the team, and played for three years until he joined the major league Phillies without ever playing in the minor leagues at all. Rixey played for the Phillies until 1920, but took time out in 1918 to serve overseas in WWI with an army chemical-warfare division. In 1920, he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds, and played there until his retirement in 1933. His last game was August 5, 1933.
In all, he pitched in 692 games, won 266 and lost 251 for a winning percentage of .515. It is said that his best strength as a player was his remarkable control. Rixey walked just 2.16 batters per nine innings over his 21-year career.
In 1963, he received a call that he had been elected to the Hall of Fame. Always modest, he responded, "I guess they're scraping the bottom of the barrel." Unfortunately, within just a few weeks, he died in Cincinnati at age 72, and the award was presented at Cooperstown to his widow, Dorothy, on February 28, 1963.