Cardinals Blast from the Past – Meet Clyde Shoun

photo: Clyde Shoun

Our Monday St. Louis Cardinals Blast from the Past feature here at The Cardinal Nation goes solo for awhile as we wait for baseball to reconvene when the time is appropriate and safe.

The series will introduce readers to old time Cardinal players, ones who most fans have likely never heard of.  The first of these old timers is a pitcher named Clyde Shoun, who played for five teams in his 15-year baseball career, including St. Louis, of course.

Clyde Shoun

Clyde Mitchell Shoun was born on March 20, 1912 in Mountain City, Tennessee.  He was the fifth of 13 children, four of whom died in infancy.  Shoun was nicknamed “Hardrock”, perhaps because of his fastball.  Clyde’s brother Miles, also known as “Slim”, played professional basketball for the Firestone Rubber company team, prior to the founding of the NBA.

Shoun pitched for some local teams before reaching the pros.  His first year as a professional was with a semi-pro team in South Carolina’s Textile League in 1934.  The left-hander was signed by the Birmingham Barons of the Southern Association in 1935 and he pitched very well, so well that his contract was purchased by the Chicago Cubs in the latter part of the season. He debuted with the Cubs on August 7, 1935.  Shoun tossed two innings in his debut, a game the Cubs lost to Pittsburgh, 6-0.  He made his first start that August 19 against the Phillies.

Shoun began 1936 with the Cubs but was sent back to Birmingham in May.  He returned to the major leagues for good in 1937 and finished that season with a record of 7-7 and an ERA of 5.61.

In 1938, Shoun went to Spring Training with the Cubs, but before the season began the Cubs traded him to the Cardinals.  The Cubs received Dizzy Dean in return.  Along with Shoun, the Cubs sent two other players and $185,000 in cash to St. Louis, representing one of the largest cash transactions in baseball to that point.

Shoun started 12 games for the Cardinals in 1938, then was primarily used out of the bullpen the remainder of the season.  He posted a record of 6-6 with a 4.41 ERA. In 1939, Shoun was again mostly deployed out of the bullpen, leading National League pitchers in games (53), games finished (25) and saves (9).  He led league hurlers in games again in 1940 with 54.  Shoun also made two starts in 1939 and 19 in 1940.

Shoun’s playing time was diminished in 1941 due to injury.  In 1942, he pitched in only two games before being traded to the Cincinnati Reds.

It was with Cincinnati that Shoun reached his career pinnacle – but very few saw it. On May 15, 1944, in front of just 1,014 fans at Crosley Field, the lefty tossed a no-hitter against the Boston Braves. Had it not been for a lone third-inning walk to the opposing pitcher, Shoun would have completed a perfect game. It is reportedly the sparsest crowd to see an MLB no-hitter in at least the last century.

Shoun remained with the Reds, with a hiatus for service in the Navy late in World War II, until the 1947 season, when dealt to the Boston Braves.  Shoun’s final MLB season was in 1949, when he was traded to the Chicago White Sox and later released. He returned to Triple-A to finish 1949 and remained at the highest minor league level until he concluded his playing career in 1951.

Following baseball, Shoun returned to Mountain City where he farmed tobacco and owned a commercial dog kennel.  He had two daughters with his first wife Anna.

Shoun passed away on his 56th birthday, March 20, 1968 in a veteran’s center in Johnson City, Tennessee.

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