The ability to successfully eat innings was seen as a hallmark of great pitching for the first century of baseball. The Cy Young Award was named after the guy who exceeded the runner up in career innings by more than 1,000. The St. Louis Cardinals thought they were on to something when their farm system produced Tom Poholsky, a pitcher who possessed both stamina and control.
Poholsky debuted at age 15 in the minor leagues, served in WW2, and returned to take over the International League in 1950. In August of that year he carried his team to a 22-inning, complete game victory. He followed that outing with a more conventional 9-inning complete game 8 days later and won the league’s MVP award. The extra innings marathon would go on to be mentioned in the text of his baseball cards for years to come.
St. Louis brought him up for a few innings of work at the end of 1950 and he stuck with the team for the 1951 season. Poholsky is one of a handful of young players that missed the 1952 season due to Korean War service but who still appeared in that year’s Topps set. He returned to the game in 1954 and became the Cardinal’s #2 pitcher. Despite being an above average pitcher (and well above average for the lowly Cardinals), he posted a losing record every season of his Major League career. He was still well respected and Topps used its 1957 card of Poholsky to describe his 1956 trade to the Chicago Cubs as one of the year’s biggest transactions.