Matty: The Christy Mathewson Story

Bleacher Report Senior Writer IOctober 31, 2008

Christy Mathewson is one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history.

Mathewson was born August 12, 1880 in Factorysville, Pennsylvania. He was born into a farming family, but actually attended Bucknell University. He was the class president (1898) and played on the football team as a kicker and baseball team as a pitcher, of course.

In 1899 at the age of nineteen, he joined Taunton of the New England League. The following year, he joined Norfolk of the Virginia League. There, he posted a decent record with twenty wins and two losses. Not bad, huh?

The New York Giants didn't see a problem with having a 20-2 pitcher on their roster, so they signed Matty. So it began.

They purchased his contract for $1,500. Mathewson turned heads in a bad way, though. As a rookie, he had no wins, three losses and a 5.08 earned run average. This was definitely NOT a sign of what was to come.

The Giants decided to send him down to the minors and got their $1,500 back. No amount of money would be worth what Christy would end up doing. He ended up making the Giants roster again in 1901, and had 20 wins and 17 losses. Despite a very unflattering record, he had a 2.41 ERA.

Manager Horace Fogel didn't see the Hall of Fame potential in him, so he decided to practice him as a first basemen and shortstop. Fogel didn't manage the Giants after that year. Enter John McGraw. Fogel didn't look right the next year. Despite a 14-17 record, he had a 2.11 earned run average. The next year turned out to be a turning point, when he had 30 wins, 13 losses and a 2.26 ERA. He had 33 wins the next year and 31 in 1905.

Mathewson's 1905 World Series performance is probably the most dominant performance by a player in the History of the Fall Classic. He tossed three complete game shutouts. He was three and oh and allowed fourteen hits, out dueling Chief Bender and Eddie Plank once each, both Hall of Famers. The feat will never be accomplished again. Nowadays, starting pitchers typically pitch one or two games at the most in the series. Throwing three is a completely different story. Throwing three complete game shutouts is also another sty. And beating two Hall of Famers is also a different story.

Mathewson's greatest season came in 1908. He had THIRTY SEVEN wins, eleven losses and a 1.43 earned run average. He also tossed 34 complete games. The next year wasn't too shabby, either, he went 25-6 with a 1.14 ERA.

From 1903 to 1914, Mathewson had probably the most dominant period for any player. He had 327 wins in 12 seasons along with 133 losses, amounting to a .711 winning percentage!


Mathewson was also a workhorse. During that time, he never pitched under 265 innings. His arm took a toll in 1915. In what proved to be his last big league full season, he had eight wins, fourteen losses and a 3.58 earned run average, a career high!

The next year, he had three wins, four losses and a 2.33 earned run average, but only started six games, appearing in six games as a reliever.

The next year, he tossed one complete game, earning a win in which he allowed eight runs. Christy Mathewson was an intellectual ballplayer. "I always tried to learn about the hitters. Anytime someone got a hit off me, I made a mental note of the pitch. He'd never see that one again."

Christy Matthewson had 373 wins, 188 losses and a 2.13 earned run average. He died from the flu in 1925, eleven years before the Hall of Fame was created and he was among the first inducted.

You were wrong, Mr. Fogel.