Monday, November 6, 2017

Havana, Arkansas

Havana is in northwestern Yell County, west of Little Rock, the state capital. In 2010, Havana’s population was 375.

Havana is the birthplace of three major league baseball players – Johnny Sain (1917-2006), James Elton Walkup (1909-1997) and James Huey Walkup (1895-1990). All three were pitchers.

Havana’s largest population was recorded in its first census, 621 people in 1910. The closest the town has come to that number was in 1940, when 449 people lived there.

Wikipedia says, “About 20.2% of families and 24.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 39.1% of those under age 18 and 20.3% of those age 65 or over.” Those numbers are from the 2000 census. Median family income then was $27,500.,_Arkansas

Of the three major league pitchers born in Havana, Sain was the most notable, as a pitcher and as a pitching coach. In 1942, Sain pitched in 40 games for the Boston Braves. With military needs for men for World War II, Sain did not again pitch for the Braves until 1946, when he was 29 years old. His first year with Boston, Sain’s record was 4-7, with an ERA of 3.90. He started three games.

In 1946, Sain posted 20 wins and 14 losses, and had an ERA of 2.21. He won 20 or more games in 1947, 1948 and 1950. In addition to Boston’s Braves, Sain also pitched for the New York Yankees (1951-55) and Kansas City Athletics (1955). His overall record was 139-116, ERA 3.49. He started 245 games and completed 140. He was a good hitter as well, in his 11 years batting .245 and driving in 101 runs. He walked 24 times and struck out 20 times. Sain pitched in three All-Star games and in four World Series. He is buried in the Havana Cemetery.

James Huey Walkup was 31 years old when he made his big league debut in 1927. He pitched in two games for the Detroit Tigers. His record was 0-0, with an ERA of 5.40.

James Elton Walkup played six years in the majors, five years and part of a sixth with the St. Louis Browns (1934-39) and part of 1939 with the Tigers. James Elton finished with a 16-38 record and an ERA of 6.74. In 462 innings, he walked 260 batters and struck out 134. For those six years, he was paid $21,500. In today’s money, that would be more than $336,000, about $200,000 less than minimum pay for a 2017 major league player.

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