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"Boom" Vangilder

In his memoir, Lou Gehrig remembered getting his first major league base hit off Elam Vangilder, a right-handed pitcher for the St. Louis Browns. Vangilder, a big farm boy from Cape Girardeau, Missouri known as the plodding Dutchman, was never a star relief pitcher, but was noted for having perhaps the biggest feet in baseball. When Elam walked in from the bullpen, he stepped as if plowing a field back home, trudging along and stomping his feet as though breaking up chunks of clay. Fans who came to cheer the Browns in the 1920s had a special chant reserved for Elam’s appearances. As each foot would hit the ground, everyone in the stands would shout out in unison: “Boom . . .Boom . . .Boom . . .Boom!!” During his eleven years in the majors, Elam compiled a very average record of 99-102, then retired to Cape Girardeau where he farmed and served as county sheriff for several years prior to his death on April 30, 1977 at the age of eighty-one.

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