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Christy Mathewson

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Christopher Mathewson (Big Six or Matty or The Christian Gentleman)

Inducted into Hall of Fame in 1936

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[edit] Biographical Information

"His sense of justice, his integrity, and sportsmanship made him far greater than Christy Mathewson the pitcher." - Kenesaw Mountain Landis

Christy Mathewson was highly-respected both as a ballplayer and as a human being. He ranks # 1 on the Hall of Fame Standards test of measuring major league pitching performance. He is # 3 on the all-time win list. He led the league in ERA five times. The most similar pitcher, according to the similarity scores method, is Pete Alexander, although the two were very different individuals. Mathewson died young.

[edit] Biography

Mathewson attended Bucknell University from 1899-1901. He appeared with the New York Giants for 6 games in the second half of the 1900 season after being purchased from Norfolk, and after the season was assigned back to Norfolk, where the Cincinnati Reds drafted him. The Giants, managed by George Davis, traded veteran Amos Rusie to get Mathewson back on their team. While Mathewson had not been successful at the major league level in 1900, he was much better in 1901. He finally ended up with the Reds at the tail end of his career, in 1916, for one game.

John McGraw took over the managerial duties on the Giants in the middle of the 1902 season, and was Mathewson's manager for the rest of Christy's years with the Giants. McGraw was fond enough of Mathewson that Mathewson's picture was one of only two that McGraw in later years put on his wall.

Painting showing Christy Mathewson pitching, Roger Bresnahan is the catcher. Bresnahan is tagging out the Philadelphia Athletics runner while Manager John McGraw, far right, looks on.

Mathewson was a key participant in the famous Merkle Bonehead Play that was important in determining the 1908 National League pennant winner.

He appeared in four World Series, posting an ERA of 0.97.

He was one of a very few players to speak out against players or teams he thought were throwing games.

Mathewson also managed the Reds for parts of three seasons, from 1916 to 1918. The team's winning percentage steadily improved during his time with them. He also was a member of the Giants coaching staff in 1919 and 1920.

Christy also played professional football. A league, called the National Football League although not related to the later successful league, was formed in 1902 and Mathewson played fullback for Pittsburgh. He had been a kicker in college, and at least one observer of the time thought he was the best ever.

Starting in 1923, Mathewson served as president of the Boston Braves.

[edit] Miscellaneous

"Big Six" drinks Coca-Cola, from an ad ca. 1914.
  • Christy Mathewson enlisted in during World War I. He was accidentally exposed to poison gas during military training. This lung damage eventually killed him at age 45.
  • Known as "Big Six".
  • In contrast to most of the players of his era, Mathewson was a well spoken college graduate.
  • 20-game winner 12 consecutive years (1903-1914).
  • 373 career wins
  • Brother of Henry Mathewson and Distant cousin of Jack Billingham
  • Elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame on February 2, 1936 by the Baseball Writers Association of America as one of five first inductions.
  • Author of Pitching in a Pinch
  • First Baseball Card appearance 1909 E107 Breisch Williams
"There is no doubt but that Mathewson was the greatest pitcher of all time. He was the perfect pitcher... He had all kinds of stuff and he knew just when to use it." Roger Bresnahan

[edit] Notable Achievements

  • 2-time NL Pitcher's Triple Crown (1905 & 1908)
  • 5-time NL ERA Leader (1905, 1908, 1909, 1911 & 1913)
  • 4-time NL Wins Leader (1905, 1907, 1908 & 1910)
  • NL Winning Percentage Leader (1909)
  • NL Games Pitched Leader (1908)
  • NL Saves Leader (1908)
  • NL Innings Pitched Leader (1908)
  • 5-time NL Strikeouts Leader (1903-1905, 1907 & 1908)
  • 2-time NL Complete Games Leader (1908 & 1910)
  • 4-time NL Shutouts Leader (1902, 1905, 1907 & 1908)
  • 15 Wins Seasons: 13 (1901 & 1903-1914)
  • 20 Wins Seasons: 13 (1901 & 1903-1914)
  • 25 Wins Seasons: 8 (1903-1905, 1908-1911 & 1913)
  • 30 Wins Seasons: 4 (1903-1905 & 1908)
  • 35 Wins Seasons: 1 (1908)
  • 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 14 (1901-1914)
  • 300 Innings Pitched Seasons: 11 (1901, 1903-1905, 1907, 1908 & 1910-1914)
  • 200 Strikeouts Seasons: 5 (1901, 1903-1905 & 1908)
  • Won a World Series with the New York Giants in 1905
  • Baseball Hall of Fame: Class of 1936
Preceded by
Buck Herzog
Cincinnati Reds Manager
1916-1918
Succeeded by
Heinie Groh

[edit] Further Reading

  • Frank DeFord: The Old Ball Game, Atlantic Monthly Press, New York, NY, 2005.
  • Martin D. Kohout: "Saint Matty and the Prince of Darkness: The strange and awful bond between Christy Mathewson and Hal Chase", in The National Pastime, SABR, Number 20 (2000), pp. 124-131.
  • Ronald A. Mayer: Christy Mathewson: a Game-By-Game Profile of a Legendary Pitcher, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2008 (originally published in 1993).

[edit] Related Sites

Matty - The First Giant to Win in SF

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