Class of 2004
George "Slick" Coffman's first hit as a Major League Baseball player was off legendary ace pitcher from the Boston Red Sox, Lefty Grove. He was more renowned for what he did from the pitcher's mound that from the batter's box.
Coffman started his big league career with the Detroit Tigers in 1937. George Coffman made his major league debut on May 21, 1937, against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. Tigers' player-manager Mickey Cochrane gave the young, hard-throwing right-hander his first start against Grove, one of baseball's most dominating pitchers at the time.
Despite his lack of big-league experience, Coffman matched Grove pitch for pitch, and both hurlers carried shutouts into the seventh inning.
The seventh inning saw Detroit give its young thrower a cushion when Hank Greenberg belted a two-run home run to give the Tigers and Coffman a 2-0 lead. Boston rallied in the bottom ofthe eighth inning to tie the score on a Joe Cronin two-run homerun to make it a 2-2 game. The deadlock continued through regulation and into extra innings, with both pitchers continuing their solid work. The contest was finally decided in the 11th inning, when Detroit left fielder Gerry Walker's base hit pushed across Cochrane and Charlie Gehringer to give Coffman and the Tigers a 4-2 advantage.
Coffman closed out the game when he blanked the Red Sox. The 26-year-old Coffman had opened his major league career with a dominating performance and complete-game victory against one of baseball's premiere teams.
In 121 games pitched, he had 16 starts, three saves, 89 strikeouts and three complete games -- the first an II-inning masterpiece against a future Hall-of-Famer.