Half-Baked Hall Profile: Christy Mathewson

Christy Mathewson 1880-1925



New York Giants 1900-1916
Cincinnati Reds 1916

Career WAR: 95.3

Best Season: 1908 37-11 1.43 ERA (168 ERA+) 1.29 FIP 0.827 WHIP 34 CG 11 ShO 6.17 K/BB 11.1 WAR** (1905 is very close)

Known For: Baseball’s gentleman star of the first decade of the deadball era, Mathewson is very closely tied in history to John McGraw, though the two were polar opposites in terms of lifestyle. Mathewson was also known for his “fadeaway” pitch. Also, the 1905 World Series (see below).


“He gripped the imagination of a country that held a hundred million people and held this grip with a firmer hold than any man of his day or time” – Grantland Rice


Rough Start: As a 19 year old rookie in 1900, Mathewson was 0-3 with a 71 ERA+. He primarily was used as a batting practice pitcher that year, and wrote to a friend “I don’t give a rip whether they keep me or not.”

1905 World Series: Three games against Philadelphia, three complete game shutouts. Mathewson allowed only 13 hits in 27 innings pitched. He struck out 18 to only one walk.

After the 1905 World Series: About a week after his clinching shut out, Mathewson lost a semi-pro game he pitched in Michigan 5-0 after a friend convinced him to play during a hunting trip. About a year later, Mathewson almost died due to a case of diphtheria.

After his outstanding 1908 season: Mathewson pitched to a no-decision in the team’s loss in the Merkle replay. He also felt responsible for the deaths that occurred in the stands that day, believing that he should have convinced the team not to play. Later that offseason, he found the body of his younger brother, Nicholas, who had committed suicide, perhaps in part due to the fact that Christy had advised the Tigers not to bring him directly to the majors.

Farewell Game: In his only appearance on the mound for a major league team other than the Giants, Mathewson pitched against fellow Half-baked HOF’er Three-Finger Brown on Three-Finger Brown day in Chicago. Mathewson allowed 8 runs but still outdueled Brown as the Reds beat the Cubs 10-8.

Black Sox: Christy was a central figure in exposing the Black Sox scandal as he was covering the series for the New York Times.

The Great War: Mathewson enlisted as a Captain in the Chemical Warfare Division. He was accidentally exposed to mustard gas during a training exercise, and was also among those who contracted the flu while in France.

WGOM Voter Comments:

Mathewson won the 1905 World Series with three complete game shutouts. It was the heart of the dead ball era, but still. Just one walk in 27 innings.

He also led the league in K/BB ratio 8 consecutive seasons. – Beau

A friendly reminder that both Mathewson and Lajoie are pretty much definitive, inner-circle Hall of Famers. – Nibbish


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