Devens, Charles (1995)
Ivy League graduates often find jobs with the most prestigious corporations in the country. So it was with Charles Devens, who, in the midst of the Great Depression, was hired out of Harvard by a fairly successful firm called the New York Yankees.
Devens pitched parts of three seasons with the Yankees, from 1932 to 1934. He played with Babe Ruth, one of four ex-Yankees alive to make that claim. As such, he will be welcomed back to Yankee Stadium in a few weeks for Old Timer's Day to represent Ruth's teammates in the continuing celebration of the Bambino's 100th birthday.
Devens was a New Year's baby, born Jan. 1, 1910 in Milton, Mass..
where he still lives. For the past 44 years, he also has maintained a residence in the Prouts Neck section of Scarborough.
Prior to attending Harvard, Devens went to Groton School in Groton, Mass., from 1922 to 1928. He was one of the school's finest athletes, having played football, baseball, hockey and tennis and being named captain in three of the four. Ironically, all but baseball.
At Harvard, Devens made the varsity football team as a sophomore halfback and continued to succeed in that sport until he suffered a broken leg In a game against Dartmouth.
hockey was not taken so seriously at Harvard at that time, but Devens played nonetheless. The contests, generally held on Friday afternoons, often were followed by debutante balls.
It was with baseball that Devens found his greatest success at Harvard. A tall (6-foot-1), strong (180 pounds) right-hander, Devens pitched three years for the Crimson varsity.
The-hard-throwing Devens could be dominant (he struck out 18 as a Junior to beat Dartmouth) as well as wild (he walked 13 as a sophomore but still beat Yale, 14-4).
As a senior, Devens pitched and batted cleanup for a team that went 16-6, Harvard's best record of the decade, and outscored opponents, 158-61. in the season finale, Devens pitched a 6-0 shutout against Yale and homered off Johnny Broaca, later a Yankee teammate.
in 1932, Devens joined Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Bill Dickey, Lefty Gomez and the rest of a Yankees team that won 107 games and swept the Chicago Cubs in the World Series. Devens appeared in one game that season, earning a complete-game victory.
The following season, Devens pitched in 14 games, starting eight, and compiled a 3-3 record and 4.35 earned run average as the Yankees finished seven games behind Washington.
Devens finished his major league career with an 11-inning complete game victory in 1934 as the Yankees once again fell seven games short of the pennant, won this time by Detroit.
In total, Devens won five games and lost three. His ERA in 82 innings was 3.73. He struck out 31, walked 62 and gave up 74 hits. Much of those 3 years were spent playing for the Newark (N.J.) Bears, the Yankees top farm club. After baseball, Devens turned to banking and managed one of the first mutual funds. His firm—Incorporated Investors— eventually merged with Putnam Investments.
When World War II struck, Devens served as lieutenant commander aboard the aircraft carrier Intrepid in the Pacific Ocean. Fifty years ago this month, he was awarded the Bronze Star for heroism in directing firefighting operations on the flight deck following Kamikaze attacks.
Charlie and Edith Devens recently celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. they have three children —Charles, Jr., Edith Iler and Robert— and nine grandchildren.