Right in the thick of America’s involvement during World War II, major league teams were struggling to find enough players as many of them were enlisting in the armed forces. In 1944, the Cincinnati Reds decided to scout the state of Ohio in search of players, leading them to a semipro pitcher named Orville Nuxhall. Nuxhall, who had five children, didn’t want to take the time away from his family. But Nuxhall’s 14-year-old son Joe was also a talented pitcher, and his age didn’t stop the Reds from signing him once his high school basketball season came to an end.
Nuxhall had to get permission from his school to attend opening day, but he spent most of his early days with the team warming the bench until just before his 16th birthday, when the Reds were leading the Cardinals 13-0 in the ninth inning and Nuxhall was put in to pitch the last three outs of the game, making him the youngest player to ever pitch in the major leagues. But he didn’t do very well — giving up five runs on five walks and two hits — and ended up getting sent back down to the minors a few days later.