Hall of Fame Pitcher Jim Palmer, on His Dad

During my youth, Jim Palmer (pictured) was pretty much the best pitcher in baseball, with the possible exception of Tom Seaver. He was usually the first starting pitcher we’d draft whenever I played Strat-O-Matic table baseball with my friends. From 1970 to 1978, Palmer went 176-97, and was voted into the Hall of Fame in 1990.

Soon after Palmer was born he had been adopted by Moe and Polly Wiesen. Moe died when he was nine, and the following year his mother married Max Palmer. Jim Palmer tells the following story about his dad in his autobiography, Palmer and Weaver:

“My father loves to tell this story. It was the Little League banquet in California. When it came time to announce the awards that night, I was going to get three trophies, one for the championship we’d won, one for the batting title, and one for the homerun leader.

“But I wasn’t Jim Palmer, I was still Jim Wiesen. My mom had married Max Palmer but I had kept my name. Until that night. I asked the coaches who handed out the awards to announce me by what I decided was my new name, ‘James Alvin Palmer.’

“On his 87th birthday, Max said, ‘Through all these years, that night was the highlight of my life.’

“[Eighteen years later] that was the name that went on my first Cy Young Award. Palmer. My dad Max loved it.”

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