Sunday, March 04, 2012

Christy Mathewson -- Gentleman, College Boy, Pitcher

Christopher ... Big Six or Matty ... Mathewson was one of those players in the early 20th Century that was instrumental in the rise of America's past-time. Raised in Northeastern PA, his life was shaped by a kind and religious mother. She insisted on a well-rounded education. She was willing to do anything to make sure her children were educated. She wanted her son to be a minister but Christy's athletic prowess on the football field (kicker) and baseball diamond gave him different opportunities.

Mathewson spent most of his 17 year Hall of Fame pitching career with the New York Giants. He was a workhorse, his numbers were amazing. He pitched over 300 innings 11 seasons. He won 20 games in 13 seasons, 30 or more in 4 seasons. His lifetime ERA was just over two and he won 373 games, tied with Pete Alexander for third all-time.

ERA / W / L / G / IP / SO / BB
2.13 / 373 / 188 / 635 / 4783 / 2502 / 846

He seemed ill-fitted for the New Your City big life. But he adapted. He was great friends with his manager, Hall of Famer John McGraw. The two could not have been more opposite. But together they thrived.

Big Six was a true pitcher, less of a flame thrower. He had great control and a wide assortment of pitches including his curve or drop ball.

After reading the book "Christy Mathewson: A Biography," by Michael Hartley, I grew to appreciate his evolution as a player (he was okay with the bat). He had some real bad games, ones where you don't survive the first inning. But he was able to over come and excel.

After serving his country in Europe in the Chemical Service -- a chemical weapons defense group within the Army -- he inhaled too much poisonous gas. He later developed tuberculosis. That eventually took his life, way too soon. He was only 45.

He is one player that one would love to have on your team. He'll show up and give you 100%. And there are few that were better or will ever be better than Matty.

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