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Christy Mathewson Thread

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  • #16
    Originally posted by JR Hart View Post
    Matty was a remarkable player and a remarkable man. Although he is a top 10 pitcher on anybody's list, it is his off the field contributions that make him the significant figure that he is. More than any player, he made baseball mainstream. His place in baseball history cannot be understated.
    Totally agree. Matty, Ruth, and Robinson are the three pivotal players in baseball history.


    • #17
      Part Three of my venture

      Author Mike Vacarro goes into greater detail of the 1912 World Series in The First Fall Classic. Being my favorite baseball book, I will restrain from diving into its detailed depths and write from the events pertaining to Matty. However, if one wishes to learn more of an event that isn’t given justice, or just wants to read a helluva book, look to that one.

      Still the most popular player on the team, Matty didn’t solely carry the team as in years passed. A powerhouse lineup stole over 300 bases thanks to McGraw’s tactics. New addition Jeff Tesreau hurled nearly 250 quality innings. It was Marquard, though, who had earned his keep. Surpassing the infamous nickname of “11,000 lemon,” Marquard won 26 games (19 of them consecutive) in a year that bolstered a (questionable) Hall of Fame career. Also as occasional starters were still Hooks Wiltse and Red Ames. The five of them combined constituted the best pitching in the National League.

      Under the reaches of McGraw, it surprised no one that the Giants won 103. It only fueled the ongoing rage to love the Giants (or hate them if your allegiance lied elsewhere). Only Captain Matty could capture the admiration of both factions. Players everywhere asked him to represent their interests versus management following the suspension of Ty Cobb after he assaulted a heckler. New York’s upper society rarely talked baseball, but when they did mention McGraw and his cast of rascals, it was usually to point out Matty’s superb qualities.

      At home, Matty’s son Christy Jr. had turned six. The Mathewsons and the McGraws continued living together in the same complex. The men went to work together and returned to the same housing. Mutual admiration filled them. McGraw was more likely to spend his nights away at a opulent restaurants, casinos, or operas. Matty preferred quaint literature, time with his family, logic games; all the qualities resembling a more stimulated individual.

      Matty brought these qualities to the field. Throughout the 1912 season his performance remained “Matty.” Whether completing a game or coming in for relief, Matty’s sharp mind had gotten so accustomed to hitter subcategories to a degree of allowing him to map their weaknesses within the first at-bat. Rookies like Giants’ George Burns were told to sit on the bench and learn whatever they could. Most of it came from Matty’s visuals on the field, which is why McGraw left Matty alone to do his work.

      Matty’s main Series opponent was Smoky Joe Wood. An ambience of power preceded the name “Joe.” Smoky was on a fast track to stardom. This season would also be his greatest: 34 wins in 344 innings, ten of them shutouts, with an ERA under 2.00. Had he remained healthy, his future tangles with Walter Johnson would have been matchups for the ages. In fact, Wood beat Johnson in a 1-0 contest to end Johnson’s 16-game win streak and continue his own (which would also last 16 games). For all his accomplishments, Wood’s speed did not impress McGraw. Mugsy sought psychology in pitching. A pitcher as great as Smoky would not have been given the discretion of Matty to pick his pitches.

      As with 1911, The Giants had to face a team McGraw scoffed at less than a decade before. Baseball did not hold a 1904 Series because of McGraw’s refusal to play the lesser Boston club. Again it was time to see if he would have to eat humble pie. Boston’s 1912 club boasted the Speed Boys, the greatest outfield ever assembled in Lewis, Speaker, and Hooper. The brand new Fenway Park favored hitters with its deep pockets at odd places, a pestilence for New York. The yet-to-be-flattened park also featured asymmetrical grooves, lumps, and bumps for outfielders. Only Duffy Lewis mastered the necessary maneuvers of left field’s invisible incline. “Duffy’s Cliff” was Fenway’s biggest on-field attraction before The Green Monster. Speaking of attraction, the Red Sox had climbed the ranks of popularity in the city. The self-proclaimed Royal Rooters attended nearly every game in the same seating section. Of these hundreds of die-hards was even Boston’s mayor, John “Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald, the namesake for his grandson, John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

      Game One went underway in a Wood vs. Tesreau matchup, illustrating McGraw’s peculiar preference of not starting Matty for opening events, perhaps because the situation wasn’t clutch enough. The Giants dropped the opener to the Sox, but proved they could tag the invincible Wood for runs. Matty started Game 2, another eleven-inning postseason game. The Royal Rooters weren’t unfamiliar with Matty because of his bouts against the Braves. As usual, he received ovation in enemy territory. Still, they did not want him nor the Giants to do well. They got just that: trouble quickly ensued in the first inning. Like the year before, Matty’s left infield flailed. Steve Yerkes was induced into a grounder that was “one of the easiest chances in the world for a big leaguer” according to Matty. Shortstop Art Fletcher flubbed it. Buck Herzog took the cue in the next play, screwing up a tapped bunt by Speaker. As Viccario mentions, Matty never hollered at a teammate for misplay. However, in this global stage so early in the game, Matty refused to hide his annoyance, shooting a “withering stare” at Herzog.

      New York’s misfortunes caused the game to end in a tie. They committed five errors, three by Fletcher, and one which allowed the 5-4 game in the eighth to come to a tie. Tris Speaker shot a line drive towards center fielder Beals Becker, but it zipped right past Becker’s head. Matty endured the entire eleven innings and watched six runs, all unearned, cross home. Darkness forced the teams to call a tie.

      Come Game Seven, the Sox were ready to clinch their second title. As fate would have it for the Giants, Wood imploded that day. New York won 11-4, but there is more to the story: the Red Sox, like the dirtier-colored Black Sox years later, were quite divided off the field. For the most part, it was the Southern Protestants (Speaker and Wood) vs. Northern Catholics (many other players), though other teammates were part of either faction based on friendship (an ironic foreshadow of the World War that was to come). Following a Game Six loss, several Sox players entered a brawl over heated arguments. They were also sick of the stingy owner James McAleer, who even coerced player-manager Jake Stahl to start a sickly Buck O’Brien to ensure a Game Seven at Fenway. Once Game Seven arrived, a sickened Smoky Joe Wood may have thrown the game, which was much harder than the fastball he threw that day. Fred Snodgrass described it as “a lob. Like something you’d get in batting practice, only slower, and softer.” Wood’s lazy fielding added to the dire circumstances. In only one inning, Wood relinquished six runs, forcing Charley Hall to pick up an eight-inning relief job.

      The teams remained in Boston for the final game the next day. New York had caught the world’s biggest break. The Series could have been clinched two games ago. Now the master Matty would start the final game against Hugh Bedient. But we are talking Matty, which means as much as he did for the Giants, the Giants’ fate would not give back. In the eight, a 1-1 score called for Boston relief. Coaxed by Jake Stahl the night before, Wood took the duty, appearing in his fourth Series game, the first one ever against the legendary Matty. The game stretched to the tenth, where Fred Merkle, a goat four years prior, screamed a hit off a low Wood fastball to score the potential winning run. Matty took the mound with a one run lead in the last of the tenth. One run was all Matty ever asked for his teammates. He verbally expressed that he only needed a lead to get them the win. Today it wouldn’t feel like enough.

      Several sources take the time to specially mention Matty’s fatigue somewhere around Game Eight. Compared to the youthful promise he was over a decade ago, Matty’s constant pitching duties had accelerated his aging. His presence still vivified the crowds, but something was amiss in the man. Sportswriters gradually admitted his strained features. Matty’s demeanor had unintentionally darkened not in conversation, for he was always the charming conversant, but somehow his movements slowed, tired. The very frame of his muscular body now appeared fragile. Getting through nine innings drained him much more than ever. For the first time, his right side shot pains from pitching. His time was coming, he knew it.

      Matty decided that time would not be today. New York, his teammates, and McGraw depended on him to deliver. So he approached the mound for hopefully one more inning of anguish as New York’s tool in the pinches. Pinch hitter Clyde Engle struck a pop fly for Fred Snodgrass, who took his turn in causing angst for Matty. For the rest of their days, those present couldn’t figure out how Snodgrass did it, even himself. The flyball was very elementary. Snodgrass jogged over to camp under the ball, stuck a glove out, and dropped it. Just like that. Fenway exploded. Matty’s demeanor shattered. He kicked the ground, cursing Snodgrass, cursing his luck, cursing baseball. Even in this Game Eight, New York blunders and excellent Boston play had forced the game into extras.

      No one except Fred Snodgrass has ever cost his team then saved it in consecutive plays to the extent he did in that tenth inning of Game Eight, 1912. It was as if the skill needed to make the Engle pop fly was stored to the make the next play. Failing to secure Engle cost New York a crucial out. We tend to remember his failure, yet I have never seen anyone mention except contemporaries what he did next. The Next batter Harry Hooper whirled around on Matty’s pitch for what would’ve been a triple the day before, the day after, or ten years later. At that very moment against Snodgrass, Hooper’s scorched hit plopped into Snodgrass’ glove for an out. Engle was almost doubled up. Snodgrass’s incredible catch was marveled at by every fan, player, and journalist. McGraw himself, not one to dole out hyperbolic compliments, believed it was the most impossible, greatest catch ever. In an era of more footage, it would’ve been right there next to Mays’ 1954 play. Matty had finally caught a break. He courteously extended a cheer to Snodgrass.

      New life wasn’t to be basked in for long. After issuing a walk, Matty faced Tris Speaker with one out and men on first and second. The first pitch fooled Speaker, who popped up another simple one for New York’s fielders. Merkle motioned towards this foul drifter, but Matty freaked. It can only be assumed that a flash of a 1908 boner created an instance where instinct overcomes reason. Matty yelled, “Chief!” several times, meaning he wanted the catcher Chief Meyers to put it away. Merkle backed off. Meyers was too far and the call too late for him to have a prayer of catching it. Matty sank to the deepest parts of sporting despair. How many times had he provided a win for his club? How many of those times were in the pinches? Now when his team needed him most, he failed them. Speaker was Boston’s strongest hitter, one of the strongest hitters in the league. That was their chance. Matty blew it.

      He offered Merkle some words at first, though no one knows what he said. It didn’t matter. Rejuvenated Fenway stood as Speaker approached the plate with second life. After so much turmoil in eight games, that last one was the final straw. Matty hung a curve for Speaker. A ripped ball to right field tied the game. Desperate to proceed with at least a tie, Matty intentionally walked the next batter to load the bases in vain hopes of a double play. The next batter Larry Gardner did the opposite: he flew out to for a sacrifice fly to score the winning run. That was that.

      Matty took the loss a personal blow to everything he was. In the clubhouse, he consoled Snodgrass for the miff. Matty took the blame for the loss because of his calling off Merkle. He took the usual helm of a team guru and gave a speech, allowed interviews, and played card games with his teammates as they rode back to New York on the train. Only writer Ring Lardner caught a glimpse of how Matty really felt. In the small frame between the Boston crowd’s jovial celebration as the winning run crossed and right before Matty heaved a sigh and wore the mask of leader for the sake of his teammates, Lardner saw just enough to capture Matty’s true situtation.

      “There was seen one of the saddest sights in the history of a was a spectacle of a man, old as baseball players are reckoned, walking from the middle of the field to the New York player’s bench with bowed head and drooping shoulders, with tears streaming from his eyes, a man on whom the team’s fortune had been staked and lost, and a man who would have proved his clear title to the trust reposed in him if his mates had stood by him in the supreme test...was Christy Mathewson.”

      As mentioned before, Matty looked very gaunt for a man his age. How many years had been shaved in his duty as the Giants’ hero, the duty which called for him to physically strain his body and force his mind into composure for the sake of New York’s morale?
      "Allen Sutton Sothoron pitched his initials off today."--1920s article


      • #18
        Originally posted by westsidegrounds View Post
        Totally agree. Matty, Ruth, and Robinson are the three pivotal players in baseball history.
        No question. I'm trying to think of a player after Robinson, but I can't
        This week's Giant

        #5 in games played as a Giant with 1721 , Bill Terry


        • #20
          Originally posted by westsidegrounds View Post
          Totally agree. Matty, Ruth, and Robinson are the three pivotal players in baseball history.
          Originally posted by JR Hart View Post
          No question. I'm trying to think of a player after Robinson, but I can't
          Jose Canseco, unfortunately.
          They call me Mr. Baseball. Not because of my love for the game; because of all the stitches in my head.


          • #21
            Originally posted by ol' aches and pains View Post
            Jose Canseco, unfortunately.
            Curt Flood, too.

            I'd really like to know more about Mathewson's push against the players embroiled in the Black Sox scandal. It seems he was quite outspoken about it all.
            Dave Bill Tom George Mark Bob Ernie Soupy Dick Alex Sparky
            Joe Gary MCA Emanuel Sonny Dave Earl Stan
            Jonathan Neil Roger Anthony Ray Thomas Art Don
            Gates Philip John Warrior Rik Casey Tony Horace
            Robin Bill Ernie JEDI


            • #22


              • #23
                Christy Mathewson Day: The Movie

                Christy Mathewson Days: August 8th – 9th, 2014

                A century later, baseball's first real superstar remains a hero, to a generation of people who ought to know of/care for literally nothing about him.


                • #24
                  Here is the film in its entirety.


                  • #25
                    Matty tried out with quite a few teams. He actually verbally agreed to a contract with the Athletics. Connie Mack even gave him a signing bonus that Matty used to buy books. Matty did pay him back after he changed his mind. I used to have a file somewhere with all his tryouts in it but can't locate it.
                    "No matter how great you were once upon a time — the years go by, and men forget,” - W. A. Phelon in Baseball Magazine in 1915. “Ross Barnes, forty years ago, was as great as Cobb or Wagner ever dared to be. Had scores been kept then as now, he would have seemed incomparably marvelous.”


                    • #26
                      No Home Run Baker Thread so I'll post this here...
                      1. Home Run Baker had 5 home runs off Walter Johnson through 1919. That may not sound impressive, but consider that Walter Johnson gave up 31 home runs to 15,736 batters in 4090 innings from 1907-1919.

                      2. Home Run Baker had 96 career HR. Only 5 were inside the park. Again this doesn't sound remarkable, until you consider...
                      . -Honus Wagner: 46 of 101 were inside the park home runs.
                      . -Sam Crawford: 51 of 97
                      . -Nap Lajoie 12 of 82
                      . -Ty Cobb 46 of 117

                      So I looked into Frank Baker a bit. Here are a few astounding facts.

                      Baker in his first 3 WS hit 3 HRs and had 16 RBI in 16 games while going 27 for 66. He also had 5 doubles.

                      4 World Series Opponents
                      1910 Cubs ERA 2.51 (1st)
                      1911 Giants ERA 2.69 (1st)
                      1912 Giants ERA 2.68 (1st)
                      1914 Braves ERA 2.74 (2nd)

                      .371 with a .679 slugging in those 4 WS against the 4 top pitching teams. 9 doubles, a triple, and 3 HR.

                      Game 3. Matty is at home and had a shutout going into the 9th. Baker tags him for a HR to send the game into extra innings. The A's win that game 2-1.

                      Game 4. Matty pitches again. Baker goes 2-3 with a double. Nice. But here's the kicker. Matty issues Baker an IBB.

                      Home Run Baker vs. Christy Mathewson in the World Series: 10 for 20 with 3 doubles and a home run.


                      • #27
                        To wit:

                        Mathewson gave up only 13 home runs during the entire 1911 and 1913 seasons (when the Giants faced Baker's A's). Matty pitched 613 innings those two years. His ERA was 2.03.

                        He faced 391 batters in his career in the World Series. He issued 3 intentional walks. 2 were to Frank Baker.

                        McGraw's Giants faced Ruth in 17 games across 3 World Series contests (1921-1923). McGraw issued 3 intentional walks to Frank Baker against the Deadball and ZERO to phenom Babe Ruth in 69 PA in the 3 aforementioned World Series contests.

                        71 of Baker's 96 career HRs happened in 2 parks; both with really short RF lines (Polo Grounds, Shibe Park). He must have been a dead pull hitter. Perhaps he was Mel Ott (at The Polo Grounds, a generation later) to a "T"...?
                        Last edited by Floyd Gondolli; 04-09-2018, 10:17 PM.


                        • #28
                          Joe Tinker, for reasons unknown, was Matty's nemesis. His inexpicable dominance of the greatest pitcher in the history of the National League was well documented inside baseball at the time:



                          Retrosheet has Tinker at 32 for 96 with 5 doubles 2 triples and 3 home runs (.391 with a. 576 slugging).

                          He had many crucial hits against Matty with the most crushing of all being the famous "Merkle Boner" game September 23rd, 1908 when the Cubs and Giants came in tied 87-50. Mathewson gave up his first homer since July 17th (to Tinker that day..also, not coincidentally, the Juky 17th Hr was also surrendered to Tinker)!! This proved to be the only run scored.

                          The now infamous playoff game to decide the pennant October 8th, 1908. Both teams were locked at 98-55. Tinker hit a triple which ignited a rally which proved to knock to Giants out and win the pennant for the Cubs.
                          Last edited by Floyd Gondolli; 04-09-2018, 11:23 PM.


                          • #29
                            Matty wrote in an article in 1911:

                            Joe Tinker, the clever little shortstop of the Chicago club, is a man with whom I have fought many battles of wits, and I am glad to acknowledge that he has come out of the fuss with flying colors on many occasions. There was a time when Tinker was putty in my hands. For two years he was the least dangerous man on the Chicago team. His weakness was a low curve on the outside, and I fed him low curves so often that I had him looking like an invalid every time he came to the plate. Then Joseph went home one night and did a little deep thinking. He got a nice long bat and took his stand at least a foot farther from the plate, and then he had me. If I kept the ball on the inside edge of the plate he was in a splendid position to meet it, and if I tried to keep my offerings on the outside, he had plenty of time to `step into `em.' From that day on, Tinker became one of the most dangerous batters I have ever faced, not because his natural hitting ability had increased, but because he didn't propose to let the pitcher do all the `out-guessing.'

                            Between the years 1902-1912 inclusive, when Tinker was the heart of the Cub infield, Matty's record against the Chicagoans totaled 33 wins, 32 losses, and two ties. In the 1902-1905 period Christy won 16 of 24 decisions from the Cubs, during which time Tinker could only hit his pitches for a .146 average; from 1906 through 1913, however, Joe blasted him for a .379 mark. During this time Matty was 17-24 against the Cubs from 1906 through 1912, and 5-0 against the Reds in 1913. Listed below is a yearly summary of Tinker's batting totals (at bats, hits, and averages) against Mathewson, compared to his yearly averages against the league as a whole from 1902 through 1913.



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