Jack Warhop (SABR-Rucker Archive)

Jack Warhop

This article was written by Stephen V. Rice

When pitcher Jack Warhop “has control he is one of the hardest men in the league to hit. For a little fellow he has a surprising amount of speed, and this, together with that peculiar underhand delivery, baffles most batsmen.”1 — Ed Grillo, Washington Star, 1911


Jack Warhop (SABR-Rucker Archive)Before the New York Yankees became a perennial powerhouse of the American League, they were also-rans known as the New York Highlanders. Jack Warhop pitched for them during their lean years. His 68-92 record in eight seasons, 1908-15, reflects the meager run support he received. In 1914 he lost five games by a 1-0 score.

Determined and “full of grit,”2 Warhop pitched for a quarter of a century. A right-hander with a cunning submarine delivery, he was called “the best underhanded pitcher since Joe McGinnity.”3 “Warhop teased the heavy hitters with his baffling underhand shoots, which break so differently from the curves usually faced,” said the Washington Post.4

Warhop won pitching duels against stars of the era, Addie Joss, Ed Walsh, Walter Johnson, Smoky Joe Wood, and Cyclone Joe Williams. He tamed the bats of Nap Lajoie (.261) and Tris Speaker (.269), though Ty Cobb (.395) and Eddie Collins (.500) had his number.5 In 1915 he surrendered the first two home runs of Babe Ruth’s major-league career.

John Milton “Jack” Warhop (pronounced WAR-up6) was born July 4, 1884, at Powley’s Creek7 near Hinton, West Virginia. He was of Irish ancestry. His parents were Walter Raleigh Warhop and Louisa “Maggie” (née Martin) Warhop. He had an older brother, William Sherman Warhop. An alternate spelling of the family name is “Wauhop.”

Jack grew up in Hinton, population about 3,000, a railroad town along the Chesapeake and Ohio (C & O) Railway. His mother died when he was 11 years old. In 1900 he resided with an aunt and uncle on Main Street; his uncle was a locomotive engineer.8 As a young man, Jack got a job as a “fireman,” shoveling coal into the firebox of steam locomotives. He aspired to become an engineer, but baseball put him on a different path.

Warhop played center field on a C & O team. A barnstorming team of Indians came to play in Hinton and needed a pitcher, and he filled in. He pitched well and was invited to tour with them.9 On September 26, 1905, as a member of the “Cherokee Indians,” he pitched all 13 innings of a 2-2 tie at Freeport, Illinois.10 This earned him a contract with the 1906 Freeport club. He moved there and worked in the offseason for the Illinois Central Railroad.11

A town of about 15,000 near the Wisconsin border, Freeport fielded a team in the Class D Wisconsin State League. The team was nicknamed the Canners after the local canning industry.12 In 1906 Warhop achieved a 23-7 record in 293 innings for the second-place Canners. Batters averaged .175 against him, and he led the league with 231 strikeouts.13

The next year, Warhop lifted the Canners to the pennant. He posted a 30-6 mark in 325 innings and led the circuit with 339 strikeouts.14 Against Oshkosh on May 13, 1907, he allowed three hits and fanned 22 batters in an 11-inning, 1-1 tie.15 He struck out 15 in a two-hit shutout of Green Bay on June 23 and fanned 16 in a 13-inning shutout of Green Bay on July 7.16 He was the most dominant pitcher in the league. Major-league scouts were buzzing, and the Detroit Tigers purchased his contract for $1,000.17 On November 23, 1907, he married Grace C. Nichol of Freeport.18

At spring training with the 1908 Tigers, Warhop pitched impressively, but at 5-feet-9 and 150 pounds, he looked frail. Major-league pitchers at that time were typically much bigger; they were about 5-feet-11 and 185 pounds on the Tigers. At the end of spring training, Tigers manager Hughie Jennings kept seven pitchers from his spring staff of 11. He let the undersized Warhop go, selling his contract to Williamsport, Pennsylvania, in the Class B Tri-State League.19

Warhop pitched brilliantly for Williamsport. He hurled a five-hit shutout at Reading, Pennsylvania, on July 23, 1908,20 and two days later delivered a four-hit shutout against Wilmington, Delaware.21 On August 4, he allowed two hits in blanking Johnstown, Pennsylvania.22 For the season, he compiled a 29-7 record in 305 innings and led Williamsport to the pennant. He was regarded as the best pitcher in the Tri-State League. His size notwithstanding, his contract was purchased by the New York Highlanders for $2,000.23

In Detroit on September 19, 1908, Warhop made his major-league debut. He started for the last-place Highlanders against the first-place Tigers, the team that had discarded him five months earlier. He allowed five runs in five innings, but the Highlanders came from behind to win, 6-5.

Warhop got pounded in his second start, at St. Louis on September 28 – he gave up 12 runs in eight innings – but he sparkled in his next two outings. He pitched two complete games against the Washington Senators, earning his first major-league win in a 2-1 nail-biter on October 3 and losing 1-0 in an 11-inning duel with Walter Johnson on October 7.

In 1909 Warhop outdueled Addie Joss in a 4-3 triumph over Cleveland on May 15, and he beat Ed Walsh and the Chicago White Sox, 5-1, on July 13. He gained a measure of revenge from the Tigers on July 20 with a 6-1 victory at Detroit; the first-place Tigers kept popping up his submarine pitches.24 Warhop “starts from the ground”25 when delivering his “curious, vicious, up-raise ball.”26 Years later, he described his three underhand curves: “One was a slow breaker that made the batters pop up, while the other was a little faster, but that third one really had a hop, and I usually reserved it for a ‘third strike.’”27

Warhop threw consecutive shutouts against St. Louis and Cleveland on August 5 and August 9. At season end, his record was 13-15 with a 2.40 ERA, and he led the Highlanders with 243⅓ innings pitched. He had control problems, though, and hit 26 batters, the most by a pitcher in one season in major-league history from 1902 to 2023.

In 1910 Warhop hit 18 batters in 243 innings while compiling a 14-14 record and 3.00 ERA. He pitched a one-hitter on June 3 but lost 3-1 to Ed Walsh and the White Sox. On June 25, he beat Walter Johnson and the Senators, 7-4. Ty Cobb’s round-tripper gave the Tigers a 1-0 victory over the Highlanders on July 26; it was the only home run surrendered by Warhop that year.

There was mutual admiration between Cobb and Warhop. Cobb led the major leagues with 83 stolen bases in 1911. Warhop, in beating the Tigers, 3-2, on June 17 of that year, picked Cobb off first base in the eighth inning.28 Cobb declared that Warhop is “the best pitcher at holding runners close to bases” in the American League.29 Cobb “would kill you on the basepaths,” Warhop said later, “but I never met a nicer person off the field.”30

At Boston on June 29, 1911, Warhop defeated Red Sox ace Smoky Joe Wood, 3-1. And on July 22, he went the distance as the Highlanders edged the Tigers, 8-7, in 14 innings. His season record of 12-13 included a 5-0 mark against the last-place St. Louis Browns.

The Highlanders finished last in 1912, though Warhop pitched well. His record was 10-19, but his 2.86 ERA was better than the league average of 3.34. His 7.0 WAR (Wins Above Replacement) were a career best and ranked fifth among AL pitchers. A right-handed batter, he achieved a career-high .207 batting average. Although still regarded as small, he weighed close to 170 pounds entering the 1913 season.31

Bothered by a sore arm, Warhop pitched only 62⅓ innings in 1913. He returned to form in 1914 and attained a 2.37 ERA, but given little run support his record was 8-15. He lost 1-0 to Washington three times and once by a 2-1 score, and he lost twice to Chicago by a 1-0 score. He was a hard-luck pitcher.

At Washington on Opening Day, April 14, 1915, with President Woodrow Wilson in attendance, Warhop dueled Walter Johnson and was defeated soundly, 7-0. He also lost his second start, at Philadelphia on April 20. His third start, against the Red Sox on May 6 in New York, was historic.

Pitching for the Red Sox that day was Babe Ruth, a 20-year-old rookie. Leading off the third inning, he slugged a home run off Warhop. It was Ruth’s first major-league home run. Many years later, Warhop spoke of Ruth’s clout: “I sure do remember this big old homely kid coming up there and pickling that pitch,” he said. “He hit a line drive into the right-center field bleachers and it could have been 450 feet. And with that dead ball, too.”32

Ruth’s second major-league home run was also surrendered by Warhop, on June 2. It was not a good year for Warhop. Opponents hit .309 against him (the league average was .248),33 and he was released by New York in August. In his final major-league appearance, on August 12, he gave up a home run to Shoeless Joe Jackson in a 6-4 loss to Cleveland. Years later, Warhop opined that Jackson was an even greater hitter than Ruth and Cobb.34

His major-league career behind him, Warhop pitched for 15 more years on minor-league and independent teams. In 1916, after failing to make the St. Louis Cardinals at spring training, he bounced from Salt Lake City to Dallas to Rockford, Illinois. The next year, he posted a 15-10 combined record for Baltimore and Toronto in the International League.

In 1918, during World War I, Warhop was an iron worker for the Robins Dry Dock and Repair Company of Brooklyn. Pitching for the company team on September 2, 1918, he hurled a shutout to beat Cyclone Joe Williams and the Lincoln Giants.35 The following year, he pitched for Fletcher Iron Works of Hoboken, New Jersey.

Warhop and his wife Grace resided in Freeport and had two daughters, Betty (born in 1914) and Nancy (in 1916). He and Grace divorced in 1919, and a year later he married Frances M. Helsinger of Lanark, Illinois. He and Frances resided in Islip, New York.

In 1920 Warhop pitched for Fletcher Iron Works and for Norfolk in the Virginia League. With the Fletchers on September 18, 1920, he again defeated Cyclone Joe Williams with a shutout of the Lincoln Giants.36 In 1921 he achieved a 20-7 record for Norfolk and managed the team. He compiled a 15-13 record and 2.50 ERA in 1922 for Columbia, South Carolina, in the South Atlantic League.

In the fall of 1922 and throughout 1923, he pitched for a team representing the Russell, Burdsall & Ward Bolt and Nut Company of Port Chester, New York. The highlight was surely his victory over the Cincinnati Reds at Port Chester on August 26, 1923. He allowed seven hits in the 6-1 triumph. The Reds at the time were in second place in the National League. How could they lose to a small-town team? The 39-year-old Warhop had them “completely fooled” and made them look “like amateurs,” said Jack Ryder of the Cincinnati Enquirer.37 “How many major league twirlers are as good as the underhand marvel right now?” asked a Port Chester newspaper.38

From 1924 to 1926, Warhop pitched for the semipro Bushwicks of Brooklyn, who played often against leading Black teams such as the Atlantic City Bacharach Giants, Brooklyn Royal Giants, and the Hilldale Club. He returned to the minor leagues in 1927, first with Newark, New Jersey, in the International League and then with Bridgeport, Connecticut, in the Eastern League.

Pitching for Bridgeport against rival Hartford in 1927, Warhop worked all 17 innings of a 4-3 loss on June 22, and all 13 innings of a 3-2 victory on July 14.39 But he really wowed when he pitched and won both games of a doubleheader on August 10 against first-place Albany, New York. The enduring 43-year-old hurler won the first game, 5-3, in nine innings and delivered a 10-inning shutout to win the second contest, 1-0.40 “How did you do it?” he was asked. “Pitch the kind of ball they are not expecting, and you have them licked,” he said. “I didn’t have much on the ball, but I outguessed them and fed them balls which they didn’t expect.”41

In 1928 Warhop pitched for minor-league teams in Portland, Oregon; Spartanburg, South Carolina; and New Haven, Connecticut. He then came home to stay. He pitched for Islip teams in 1929 and 1930.

Warhop umpired and coached sandlot baseball on Long Island.42 He worked for the Islip highway department as a chauffeur, and later was a caretaker at the estate of a Wall Street banker.43

In 1958 Warhop and his wife Frances moved to Freeport. She died there on September 21, 1959, and he died there, at the age of 76, on October 4, 1960. They were interred at the Lanark Cemetery.



This story was reviewed by Bill Lamb and Rory Costello and fact-checked by Russ Walsh.

Sources and photo credit

In addition to the sources shown in the notes, the author used Ancestry.com, Baseball-Reference.com, and Retrosheet.org, accessed January 2024, and:

Horner, Alice. “Jack Warhop,” Stephenson County Illinois Genealogy and History, accessed January 2024.

Photo credit: SABR-Rucker Archive.



1 J. Ed Grillo, “If Long Arrives in Time He Will Play Right Today,” Washington Star, September 8, 1911: 12.

2 E.H. Simmons, “New York Nuggets,” Sporting Life, July 23, 1910: 6.

3 “Twenty Pounds Heavier,” Rochester (New York) Democrat and Chronicle, January 11, 1913: 21.

4 “Wilson, Griff’s New Backstop, Is Possessor of a Good Record,” Washington Post, September 4, 1914: 8.

5 Career batting averages when facing Jack Warhop, from Retrosheet.org, accessed January 2024.

6 “Cockill Arrives,” Williamsport (Pennsylvania) Sun, April 16, 1908: 1.

7 “Home of Jack Warhop,” Historical Marker Database, accessed January 2024.

8 1900 US Census.

9 “Warhop Receives Much Notoriety,” Freeport (Illinois) Journal, April 7, 1908: 5.

10 “Last Game This Season,” Freeport (Illinois) Bulletin, September 27, 1905: 5.

11 “Moriarity Here; Greeted by Fans,” Freeport Journal, March 7, 1906: 4.

12 The Freeport team was also nicknamed the Pretzels.

13 “Scott and Warhop Premier Pitchers,” Freeport Journal, December 28, 1906: 4.

14 “B.B. Figures,” Wausau (Wisconsin) Pilot, December 10, 1907: 4.

15 “Eleven Innings; Tie Game Results,” Freeport Journal, May 14, 1907: 4.

16 “Warhop Shuts Out Green Bay Orphans,” Freeport Journal, June 24, 1907: 5; “Umpire Assists in Defeating Locals,” Green Bay (Wisconsin) Gazette, July 8, 1907: 3.

17 “Warhop to Detroit,” La Crosse (Wisconsin) Tribune, August 16, 1907: 8.

18 “Jack Warhop Married Today,” Freeport Standard, November 23, 1907: 1.

19 Paul H. Bruske, “Summers, Suggs, Malloy Three Likely New Tigers,” Detroit Times, March 26, 1908: 2.

20 “Warhop Had the Indian Sign on Curt Weigand’s Pretzelmen,” Williamsport (Pennsylvania) News, July 24, 1908: 6.

21 “Goose Eggs Transferred,” Williamsport Sun, July 27, 1908: 6.

22 “Fondest Hopes of the Fans Realized: Champs Land Another Double Header,” Williamsport News, August 5, 1908: 6.

23 “Williamsport Sells Warhop,” Altoona (Pennsylvania) Tribune, August 19, 1908: 2.

24 Milton R. Palmer, “Wild Bill in for Bad Season? It Looks Likely,” Detroit Times, July 21, 1909: 4.

25 “Warhop a Worker,” Montgomery (Alabama) Advertiser, September 22, 1909: 9.

26 “Brunswicks Have Easy Bout with Strong Hobokens,” New Brunswick (New Jersey) Home News, August 16, 1909: 6.

27 “Hinton Around,” Hinton (West Virginia) News, August 11, 1955: 4.

28 “Chase the Tigers,” Washington Star, June 18, 1911: V-1.

29 “American League News in Nut-shells,” Sporting Life, January 20, 1912: 7.

30 Jack Pearson, “Sportalk,” Freeport (Illinois) Journal-Standard, July 12, 1956: 12.

31 William Peet, “Midget Twirler Gains 30 Pounds,” Washington Herald, December 28, 1912: 10.

32 Harry Cronin, “Babe Ruth’s First Homer,” New York Sunday News, May 10, 1959: 30.

33 Ban Johnson, “American League Pitching,” Sporting Life, December 18, 1915: 16.

34 “Hinton Around.”

35 “Robins Shut Out Lincolns,” Brooklyn Eagle, September 3, 1918: Sports, 3.

36 “Jack Warhop Victor in Pitchers’ Battle,” Brooklyn Standard Union, September 21, 1920: 14.

37 Jack Ryder, “Reds Lose to Small-town Team,” Cincinnati Enquirer, August 27, 1923: 13.

38 “Sport Brevities,” Port Chester (New York) Item, August 28, 1923: 10.

39 Albert W. Keane, “Senators Take 17-inning Struggle from Ancient Jack Warhop of Bears, 4-3,” Hartford Courant, June 23, 1927: 14; Joseph F. Kraynick, “Bears Win Thirteen-inning Battle from Senators, 3 to 2 and Take Third Place,” Bridgeport (Connecticut) Telegram, July 15, 1927: 8.

40 Joseph F. Kraynick, “Jack Warhop Pitches Nineteen Innings to Defeat Albany Twice, 5 to 3 and 1 to 0,” Bridgeport Telegram, August 11, 1927: 16.

41 “The ‘Iron Men’ of the Eastern League,” Hartford Courant, August 21, 1927: 6-1.

42 Eddie Brietz, “Sports Round-up,” Suffolk (Virginia) News-Herald, June 2, 1937: 6.

43 Lou DeFichy, “The Suffolk Slant,” Long Island (New York) Newsday, July 28, 1953: 39-S.

Full Name

John Milton Warhop


July 4, 1884 at Hinton, WV (USA)


October 4, 1960 at Freeport, IL (USA)

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