Just 3 months shy of his 30th birthday, Hoyt Wilhelm made his major league debut. The "rookie" had already led a full life. He had played 8 years of minor league ball interrupted by a 3 year tour of duty during World War II. His MLB career would span 21 seasons and end just days before his 50th birthday.
In 1952 he finished 2nd in Rookie of the year voting to another reliever, Joe Black. Both pitcher had 15 wins. Although Black had a lower ERA with 2.15, Wilhelm was the 1952 Pitching Leader with a 2.43 ERA because Black was a few innings short of the minimum. In his first Major League at bat Wilhelm hit his one and only career home run.