Sammy Ellis

Samuel Joseph Ellis (February 11, 1941 – May 13, 2016) was an American professional baseball pitcher. He played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Cincinnati Reds, California Angels, and Chicago White Sox. Ellis was an MLB All-Star in 1965.

Sammy Ellis
Born: (1941-02-11)February 11, 1941
Youngstown, Ohio, U.S.
Died: May 13, 2016(2016-05-13) (aged 75)
Temple Terrace, Florida, U.S.
Batted: Left
Threw: Right
MLB debut
April 14, 1962, for the Cincinnati Reds
Last MLB appearance
June 8, 1969, for the Chicago White Sox
MLB statistics
Win–loss record63–58
Earned run average4.15
Career highlights and awards

College career

Born in Youngstown, Ohio, Ellis was signed by the Cincinnati Reds as an amateur free agent in 1961 after playing college baseball at Mississippi State University (MSU) for the Mississippi State Bulldogs.[1] At Mississippi State, he lettered one year (1961) with a pitching record of 12–7, leading the team in strikeouts (73) and innings pitched (5723). He was named to MSU's Athletics Hall of Fame in 2012.[2]

Professional career

Ellis made his major league debut at the start of the 1962 season. His first appearance was on April 14, 1962, which he lost.[1] His first victory came 10 days later on April 24, when he walked 11 batters but only allowed one hit.[3] After spending part of the 1962 and all of the 1963 season in the minors, Ellis rejoined the major league club in 1964 as a reliever. He finished the season with a 10–3 record, a 2.57 earned run average (ERA), pitched 52 games, and threw fewer walks in those 52 games (28) than he did in 1962 in 8 games (29).[1]

In 1965, Ellis made his only All-Star appearance. He won 22 games, including 15 complete starts and two shutouts, while posting an ERA of 3.79. He led the major leagues with 111 earned runs allowed.[1] His walk total was down in 1966, but he finished the season with a 12–19 record, and also led the league in home runs allowed (35) and earned runs allowed (130).[1] He remained part of the starting pitching rotation in 1967 and brought his ERA back down under 4.00.[1]

After the 1967 season, on November 29, 1967, Ellis was traded to the California Angels for pitchers Bill Kelso and Jorge Rubio.[4] He played in California for one season, where his role was mixed. He started 24 games, but also worked some games in relief and notched two saves.[1] On January 20, 1969, Ellis was traded to the Chicago White Sox for right fielder Bill Voss and minor leaguer Andy Rubilotta.[5] Ellis was traded again in June, this time to the Cleveland Indians for pitcher Jack Hamilton.[6] However, he was sent to the minors, ending up with the Tulsa Oilers in 1970 and the Birmingham A's in 1971, and was unable to make it back to the majors.[7]

Coaching career

After retiring, Ellis worked as a Major League pitching coach for a dozen seasons, having stints with the New York Yankees (198284; 1986), Chicago White Sox (1989–91), Chicago Cubs (1992), Seattle Mariners (199394), Boston Red Sox (1996) and Baltimore Orioles (2000).[8] Sinkerball pitcher Tommy John credited Ellis with helping him work out some problems with his delivery in 1982. After watching John throw for 40 to 50 minutes a day for several days, Ellis observed, "I always recall seeing you pitch with your hand laid back like you're gonna throw a pie."[9] John adjusted his delivery accordingly and began pitching better.[9]


Ellis was a long time resident of Temple Terrace, Florida, where he died from cancer on May 13, 2016, at the age of 75.[10]


  1. "Sammy Ellis Statistics and History". Retrieved May 15, 2007.
  2. Marcello, Brandon (August 23, 2012). "Kent Hull to be added to MSU's Ring of Honor". Jackson, MS: The Clarion-Ledger. Retrieved August 7, 2015.
  3. "Sammy Ellis". Retrieved May 16, 2007.
  4. Active Reds trade Sammy Ellis. Sarasota Herald-Tribune. December 1, 1967.
  5. Angles send Sam Ellis to Chicago, The Spokesman-Review. January 21, 1969.
  6. Ellis traded for Hamilton. Spokane Daily Chronicle. June 14, 1969.
  7. minor league statistics
  8. "Former All-Star pitcher, coach Ellis dies at age 75". 15 May 2016. Retrieved May 16, 2016.
  9. John, Tommy; Valenti, Dan (1991). TJ: My Twenty-Six Years in Baseball. New York: Bantam. p. 236. ISBN 0-553-07184-X.
  10. Former big league pitcher Sammy Ellis dies at 75 Archived 2016-05-20 at the Wayback Machine. The Associated Press. Retrieved on May 15, 2016.
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