Georgia native Willarn Nixon was born June 17, 1928 and spent his entire nine-year MLB career with the Red Sox. Nixon left the game with an unremarkable 69-72 record but his real claim to fame is his uncanny ability to beat the mighty New York Yankees (who were an absolute powerhouse at the time). Nixon went 12-12 against the Bombers with a 3.55 ERA earning himself the nickname “The Yankee Killer” (suck it Joe DiMaggio).
Both Nixon’s parents worked in textiles and divorced when he was just 11 years old forcing him to live with his grandparents in Rome Georgia before being reunited with his father years later. Growing up he played “textile ball” with the mill workers in an effort to keep baseball alive in the area as he racked up four seasons before graduating high school. By 1945 Nixon was the ace of his staff and it wasn’t long until the MLB took notice.
In 1947 the Tigers offered him a contract but Nixon opted to go to college choosing Alabama Polytechnic Institute (now Auburn University). As good as Nixon was before, he was even better at Auburn and the Sox, not one to let him go easy, offered him a contract after graduation which he accepted. Nixon then went to the minors before his MLB call-up in 1950 where he went 8-6 with a 6.04 ERA his rookie year. Nixon’s career overall was unremarkable; he had five winning seasons, only reached 200 innings once, and posted an ERA under 4.00 just twice. That said he did his best with what he had having been moved from the bullpen to the rotation a number of times. You can see his full line of stats here:
While his work on the field was not exactly exemplary, Nixon immersed himself into history off the field. A skilled forger Nixon could forge the signatures of most anyone, making him Ted Williams’ unofficial ball-signer as the star would send boxes of balls to be signed in his name. So if you happen to come across a “Ted Williams” signed ball, chances are that it might be a Nixon–the more you know.
In 1958 he tossed just 43.1 innings and decided to call it quits after nine years with the Sox. After his playing career was done Nixon worked for the Sox as a scout for five years and then back home in Gerogia as a purchasing agent for the textile leagues. Then in a surprising turn of events Nixon went into law enforcement, eventually becoming the Floyd County chief of police for four years. Nixon then worked in the Floyd County School system for a number of years before officially retiring in 1989.