Elden Auker graduated from Kansas State University in 1932. Nicknamed “Big Six” because of his All Big Six League selections in football, basketball, and baseball, he signed his first professional contract with the Detroit Tigers for $450 even though he was offered a $6000 contract with the Chicago Bears football team. After being hurt playing football at Kansas State, Auker developed his trademark underhand pitching delivery that caused havoc with major league hitters. He spent the majority of his ten year major league career with the Tigers while also spending time with the Boston Red Sox and the St. Louis Browns. Auker finished with a career record of 131-101 and a 4.42 E.R.A. He played in the 1934 and 1935 World Series for the Tigers. In 1934, Auker pitched a complete game victory in game 4 against the St. Louis Cardinals. He also started game 7 but suffered the defeat after being knocked out of the game in the 3rd inning. Auker then received a no decision after starting game 3 of the 1935 Series against the Chicago Cubs.
|1939 Play Ball #4|
Auker was, perhaps, best known in his later years as being the last remaining pitcher to face Babe Ruth, strking him out on 4 pitches in 1933. He also defeated the legendary Satchell Paige 2-1, stopping a 33 game Kansas City Monarchs winning streak while playing summer ball in 1931. In his retirement, Auker and Ted Williams became close friends while living in Florida. Williams and Auker would discuss pitching and hitting with Williams trying to get under Auker’s skin proclaiming, “Goddammit Elden, pitchers are dumb, dumb, dumb.” Still, Auker considered Williams to be the finest hitter ever to play the game.
Elden Aucker was elected to the Kansas Sports Hall of Fame in 1969 and was the first member of the Kansas State University Hall of Fame. Former university president James McCain called him the greatest all-around athlete in Kansas State University history. Aucker’s baseball and life stories can be found in his autobiography, Sleeper Cars and Flannel Uniforms.