A True Fan Favorite: The Story Of Addie Joss

Bleacher Report Senior Writer IOctober 20, 2008

Addie Joss is one of the first "fan-favorites" in baseball history. In 1908, he turned in probably the most clutch performance by a pitcher. With a week left, three teams: the Tigers, White Sox and Naps (now the Indians) were separated by just one and a half games. The Indians and White Sox were in a pitchers duel. Ed Walsh was pitching for the White Sox while Joss was pitching for the Naps.

Cleveland managed four hits and one run off Walsh, one of the best pitchers ever. Joss outdid him, pitching a perfect game, his 24th win of 1908.

Joss was born in Woodland, Wisconsin in 1880. He was a tall skinny guy, Michael Phelps type stature. He was 6-foot-3 and weighed in at 185 pounds.

In 1902, at the age of 22, he made a great debut. He pitched a one hitter and beat the Cleveland Browns, 3-0. The only hit he gave up was a single to fellow Hall of Famer, Jesse Burkett.

Addie won 17 as a rookie and did not slow down. The next year, he had 18 wins followed by win totals of 14, 20, 21, 27 and 24. His ERA's were always incredible. From 1902-1908, his ERA's were remarkable: 2.77, 2.19, 1.59, 2.01, 1.72, 1.83 and 1.08.

When he wasn't playing baseball, he was writing about it. He wrote for the Toledo News Bees. Toledo is a town in Ohio. The Blade, a newspaper in Ohio, said: " Baseball was a profession, as severe as that of any other....in taking his vocation seriously he was, in return, taken seriously by people, who recognized in him a man of more then usual intelligence and one who'd have adorned any profession in which he'd elected to engage."

Joss is still known as a great starting pitcher, but had trouble staying healthy. He was always ill or hurt, whether he was pitching or not. Some say he pitched through pain his whole career.

In 1904, he suffered from malaria and still had 14 wins and a 1.59 ERA.

In 1910, Joss had a rough start. He was just 5-5. However, he had a 2.26 ERA. The Naps were concerned about his health and let him rest. The next spring, he looked back in shape, but lost over 40 pounds, pushing him to the 135-140 pound mark, considerably low for that time.

Although Joss wanted to pitch and said the weight loss was nothing, he was obviously sick. He was diagnosed with pleurisy and sent home to Toledo---again.

Two days after the season began, he died of tubercular meningitis. He was just thirty one years of age.

Cy Young once said "He was a great man. I feel sure he never made an enemy."

Joss was loved by Naps fans and is known as one of the greatest Cleveland athletes of all time.

In just nine years in baseball, he had 160 wins and 97 losses. His career high in ERA for a season was an amazing 2.77. His ERA never reached three! He had a .623 winning percentage and walked 1.43 every nine innings.

That is the sad story of Addie Joss.