James Anthony Tobin (Abba Dabba)
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 0", Weight 185 lb.
- Debut April 30, 1937
- Final Game September 23, 1945
- Born December 27, 1912 in Oakland, CA USA
- Died May 19, 1969 in Oakland, CA USA
Jim Tobin, was a right-handed major league baseball pitcher with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Boston Bees/Braves and Detroit Tigers from 1937 to 1945. With the 1944 Boston Braves, he pitched two no-hitters (one a five-inning game).
1932-1936: Minor league career
Tobin was born in Oakland, California, where the hometown Oakland Oaks of the Pacific Coast League picked him up. They sent him to their Bisbee Bees farm club in the Arizona-Texas League. He went 9-2 with a 6.13 ERA for the 1932 Bees and hit .206.
The New York Yankees signed him shortly thereafter. He was assigned to the 1933 Wheeling Stogies, for whom he was 13-7 with a 3.86 ERA. He hit .279/~.311/.419 for Wheeling. Promoted to the Binghamton Triplets, he finished the year with a 3-3, 3.67 record. Back in Binghamton in 1934, the 21-year-old hurler went 15-10 with a 3.98 ERA and hit .250 with 3 HR and 19 RBI.
The Yankees sent him back to Oakland in 1935, where he compiled an 11-8, 4.14 record (and hit .294 with 4 HR and 13 RBI) before tearing the cartilage in his left knee. Appendicitis kept him off the Yankee roster the following year, and he went 16 and 8 for the Oaks with a 4.38 ERA while hitting .261 with 18 RBI.
Rather than return to the Oaks in 1937, he arranged a deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He made his major league debut with them on April 30, 1937. Tobin went 6-3 with one save and a 3.00 ERA (129 ERA+) for the 1937 Pirates while hitting .441. For the 1938 Pirates, Jim had a 14-12, 3.47 record and was among the 1938 NL's top 10 in many pitching categories, both positive and negative. Tobin fell to 9-9, 4.52 in 1939 for a 85 ERA+, the second-worst of his major league career.
1940-1945: Boston and Detroit
He went to Boston in 1940, where Tobin was 7-3 with a 3.83 ERA with the Bees. He followed with a 12-12, 3.10 record in 1941 and had a 115 ERA+. He was 10th in the 1941 NL in ERA, fifth in WHIP, 6th in innings pitched (238), tied Claude Passeau for third in complete games (20), tied for 7th in shutouts (3) and was 6th in hits allowed (229). On May 13, 1942 he became the only pitcher in modern major league history to record a three-home-run game. (Guy Hecker had a three-home-run game in the nineteenth century.) Tobin went 12-21 with a 3.97 ERA for the 1942 Braves; his 84 ERA+ was a career-low. Overall, he hit 6 homers and had a 125 OPS+, hitting much better than he was pitching. He led the 1942 NL in innings pitched (287 2/3), complete games (28), homers allowed (20), losses and earned runs allowed (127) and was sixth in walks (96), second in hits given up (283, one behind Passeau) and tied for second in wild pitches (7).
Jim went 14-14 with a 2.66 ERA for the 1943 Braves. His 128 ERA+ was the best of his career other than his brief rookie year and he added a 100 OPS+ at the plate as a fine two-way threat. He was 9th in the 1943 NL in ERA, 10th in WHIP, tied for 10th in wins, 9th in innings (250), tied for second with 24 complete games, 6th in hits allowed (241), third in gopher balls given up (12), tied with Paul Derringer for 9th in losses and tied with Bob Klinger for 8th in ERA+.
Still with the Braves, Tobin began throwing a knuckleball in 1944. That was the year he pitched his two no-hitters. The first was April 27, 1944, when he beat the Brooklyn Dodgers 2-0. The second was a five-inning game on June 22, 1944, in which the Philadelphia Phillies fell 7-0. Tobin also threw back-to-back one-hitters in 1944; it would be 68 years until another National Leaguer, R.A. Dickey, duplicated the feat.
Tobin had a 18-19, 3.01 record with 3 saves as a workhorse for the 1944 Braves. He made his only All-Star team that year. He finished 9th in the 1944 NL in ERA, 5th in wins, 8th in fewest hits per 9 IP (8.15), tied for 4th in games (43), tied for sixth in saves, second in innings (299 1/3) and starts (36), led in complete games again (28), tied for third in shutouts (5), tied for second in homers allowed (18), 6th in walks allowed (97), third in hits allowed (271), tied for second in losses, tied for fifth in earned runs allowed yet still 7th in ERA+ (127).
Jim fell to 9-14 with a 3.84 ERA for the 1945 Braves yet still had a 100 ERA+ and made the 1945 NL's top 10 in complete games despite being sold to the Detroit Tigers in early August. Tobin was 4-5 with a save and a 3.55 ERA (100 ERA+) for the 1945 Tigers. He made his only post-season appearance with the Tigers, allowing 2 runs in three innings in the 1945 World Series. His appearance on October 3, game one of the Series, was his final major league game.
Back to the minors
He was back in the Pacific Coast League the following year, pitching for the Seattle Rainiers and the San Francisco Seals. He had a composite 10-10, 4.01 record. He was released in 1947, but the Oaks re-signed him in August 1948 and he had a 2.23 ERA in 10 games, going 2-1 with 2 saves. That year he pitched the last out against the Sacramento Solons, clinching the pennant for the Oaks.
In 1949, Tobin went 1-0 for Oakland. He finished his career in 1950 with the Memphis Chicks, going 1-2 with a 6.00 ERA.
While Tobin played only one MLB game at a position other than pitcher, he pinch-hit over 100 times in his major league career. The fine-hitting hurler batted .230/.303/.345 in the majors. He had 35 doubles, 17 homers and 102 RBI in 796 AB.
Jim went 105-112 in the majors despite a fine 106 ERA+ (3.44 ERA) and completed 156 of 227 starts.
In the minors, Tobin had an 81-51 record.
- NL All-Star (1944)
- NL Innings Pitched Leader (1942)
- 2-time NL Complete Games Leader (1942 & 1944)
- 15 Wins Seasons: 1 (1944)
- 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 6 (1938 & 1931-1945)
- Won a World Series with the Detroit Tigers in 1945