A hard-throwing lefthander, Byrne pitched and played outfield and first base for the Deacons, batting .452 as a sophomore and .593 as a junior to lead the "Big Five" in average and doubles. He was also undefeated his freshman year as a pitcher.
After turning professional in 1940, Byrne became a pitcher exclusively and made his Major League debut in 1943. He appeared in at least four Major League games in every year from 1946 until his retirement in 1957. His best seasons came in 1949 when he compiled a 15-7 record and in 1955 when he led the American League in winning percentage with a 16-5 record. He helped the Yankees to World Series titles in 1949 and 1956 and was an All-Star in 1950.
Byrne was also an excellent hitter by pitcher standards. He remains one of only 35 pitchers to hit 14 or more home runs in a career.
Byrne finished his career with an 85-69 record and a 4.11 ERA. He was an American League All-Star in 1950.
Byrne, mayor of Wake Forest, N.C., from 1973-87, was inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in 1976. He was elected to the Wake Forest University Sports Hall of Fame in 1972.
Byrne was born Dec. 31, 1919 and died on December 20, 2007 in Wake Forest, N.C., at the age of 87.
He was a member of the varsity football team from 1917 to 1920 and captained the team his last three years. In addition, he served as coach his junior and senior years while earning All-State and All-South Atlantic honors at running back.
Rabenhorst gained national acclaim for his performance in the 1919 Thanksgiving Day game against N.C. State, when he set the world record for a punt. He took the snap against the end line and allegedly drilled it 85 yards in the air. The State return man muffed the kick and a Wake player recovered five yards deep in the end zone.
He stayed very active at school in addition to playing football. He was a member of the track team and the team's coach for four years, a member of the basketball team in 1917-18 a baseball standout in 1917, and the President of the "W" club in 1919.
The Baton Rouge native made LSU his home for 43 years during which time he served as assistant football coach, head baseball and basketball coach, assistant athletic director and athletic director. One of his greatest accomplishment was guiding LSU to their only national championship in basketball during the 1935 season.
Upon his retirement from active coach in 1957, he was recognized as one of the "winningest" coaches in America. He was also named to the Helms Athletic Foundation Basketball Hall of Fame.
Harry Rabenhorst was inducted into the WFU Sports Hall of Fame on October 28, 1972 as the seventh member.
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