One could easily make the case for Christy Mathewson as the greatest pitcher who ever lived. Except for one, final game with the Cincinnati Reds in 1916, Mathewson spent his entire career with the New York Giants. His freshman year was uninspiring, going 0-3 with a 5.08 ERA, but the following year he won 20 games for the first of thirteen seasons. He led the league in wins four times, including a career high 37 in 1908, and was the ERA king five times. He won the pitching Triple Crown in 1905 and 1908, and finished his career with 2507 strikeouts. He was the career leader in shutouts with 79 until the eventual and still record holder, Walter Johnson, passed him.
Mathewson’s death from tuberculosis was likely due to being exposed to mustard gas as part of a training exercise when he was in France in 1918 with the US Army Chemical Warfare Division.
August 6, 2011