The knock against Pat Malone, a big, hard-throwing right-hander who debuted for the Chicago Cubs in 1928 after seven years in the minors, was that he enjoyed the night life too much and didn’t take baseball seriously enough. Discarded by New York Giants manager John McGraw for his wayward behavior, Malone found his mentor (and a longer leash) in Cubs skipper Joe McCarthy. Malone responded by winning 18 games as a rookie and then leading the National League in victories in his next two seasons. “Malone was a big, strong, rough-tough character,” recalled longtime Cubs trainer Ed Froehlich. “On the mound he didn’t hesitate to knock you down. When the visiting team came to town, they would dread it.”[fn]Peter Golenbock, Wrigleyville. Magical History Tour of the Chicago Cubs (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1999), 197.[/fn] Forming one of baseball’s best pitching trios with Guy Bush and Charlie Root, Malone helped lead the Cubs to the NL pennant in 1929 and 1932. Malone clashed with Marse Joe’s successors, Rogers Hornsby and Charlie Grimm, and was ultimately traded to the St. Louis Cardinals, who sold him to the New York Yankees in 1935 without him ever playing a game for them. Malone, overweight and past his prime, was reunited with his mentor McCarthy, pitched his final three seasons as an effective reliever and occasional spot starter, and was a member of World Series championship teams in 1936 and 1937.
Perce Leigh Malone was born on September 25, 1902, in Altoona, Pennsylvania, the second of two children born to Christian and Anna (Murphy) Malone. Altoona, located in the Allegheny Mountains, about 100 miles east of Pittsburgh, was a bustling industrial city and booming railroad hub made famous by the Horseshoe Curve, an engineering marvel permitting trains to traverse the steep Appalachian terrain. Christian worked as an assistant yard master in the Altoona rail yards while mother Annie and sister Evelyn found piecemeal work. As a youngster Malone thought the name Perce sounded too “sissy” and demanded, sometimes with fisticuffs, that he be called Pat.[fn]The Sporting News, November 9, 1933, 3.[/fn] He was never called Perce again, at least not to his face.
Malone, a tough kid, enjoyed fighting and raising hell. He was a leader of a band of boys who stole food from neighbors and took it to a nearby shanty in a ravine where they concocted their next plan. By the age of 14, Malone had quit school and was working for a parcel carrier, Adam’s Express. Around the same time, he became interested in baseball. By the age of 15 he was playing left field on a local semipro team. “I caught the ball and let loose with a peg to first base with such speed,” Malone recalled, “that George Quinn, the manager, immediately decided a fellow with an arm like that ought to be a pitcher.”[fn]“How I Got My Start in Baseball by Pat Malone as Told to Irving Vaughan,” Chicago Daily Tribune, April 25, 1932, 21.[/fn] Brash and fearless, he falsified his age to land a job as a fireman on the Pennsylvania Railroad at the age of 16. A year later he enlisted in the US Army and was assigned to F Troop of the First Cavalry at Fort Douglas, Arizona. An all-around athlete, Malone played football and baseball and boxed in the service, and was discharged after one year. He returned to Altoona and the railroad, boxed as an amateur under the alias Kid Williams and had a short stint as a football player at Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. Malone enjoyed his greatest success on the diamond for the semipro Altoona Independents in a local industrial league. His foray into professional baseball was the product of luck, good timing, and fate. A friend, Pat Blake, had signed as a catcher with the Knoxville (Tennessee) Pioneers of the Class D Appalachian League, re-inaugurated after a six-year absence. On Blake’s advice Knoxville signed the 18-year-old Malone for the 1921 season. After he compiled a 13-12 record in 219 innings for Knoxville, John McGraw and the New York Giants bought Malone on the recommendation of scout Dick Kinsella for a reported $5,000.[fn]J.R. Hillman, “Pat Malone. Threw Hard and Played Harder,” Sports
Collectors Digest, February 7, 1997, 170.[/fn]
Malone discovered at the Giants’ spring-training camp in 1922 that his drinking and rowdy behavior were unacceptable to the reigning world champions. “[Manager] McGraw was on me the first spring,” he recalled.[fn]Edward Burns, “Clubhouse Confessions of Our Cubs,” Chicago Daily Tribune, May 12, 1929, A5.[/fn] He was dispatched to the Waterbury (Connecticut) Brasscos in the Class A Eastern League, where he pitched well (6-8 with a 2.31 ERA in 140 innings), but openly flouted manager Billy Gilbert’s team rules. Consequently, Malone was summoned in midseason by McGraw, who had caught wind of his continued excessive living. “[McGraw] said he was going to suspend me on general principles,” recounted Malone. “I told him that I would save him the time by quitting.”[fn]The Sporting News, November 9, 1933, 3.[/fn] He returned to Altoona and resumed playing semipro ball. When he hurled a no-hitter, the Giants demanded that he honor his contract and return to Waterbury. “I refused to report,” said Malone, “but told [McGraw] that I’d consider Toledo.”[fn]Ibid.[/fn] Malone’s insubordination earned him a late-season promotion to the Mud Hens of the Double-A American Association.
Malone’s second shot with the Giants in spring training in 1923 was followed by a horrendous year at Toledo. He won just nine games, lost 21, and posted a 5.64 ERA in 241 innings. But at 6-feet-2 and weighing over 200 pounds, the hard-throwing Malone had potential, and McGraw was reluctant to give up on him. At the Giants’ new camp in Sarasota, Florida, in 1924, the players were assigned to two hotels. While McGraw stayed with the veterans at the brand new Mira Mar Hotel, Malone continually broke curfew and ran wild a half-block away in the less glamorous Watrous Hotel. Finally McGraw’s patience ran out and he sold Malone outright to the Minneapolis Millers of the American Association. At just 21 years of age, Malone had established his reputation as an undisciplined swashbuckler who was wasting his talents.
Malone spent 1924 and 1925 playing Class A ball for the Beaumont Exporters and Shreveport Sports in the Texas League with late-season call-ups to the Millers. Frustrated and angry, Malone pitched poorly (a combined 3-10 with a 7.96 ERA in 1924 and 12-15, 5.23 in 1925). “[McGraw] didn’t give me a chance in the National League,” Malone brooded years later, failing to accept blame for his predicament. “He kept me from going up for three years.”[fn]Edward Burns, “Clubhouse Confessions of Our Cubs,” Chicago Daily Tribune, May 12, 1929, A5.[/fn]
With a career record of 44-66 through his first five seasons of professional baseball, Malone’s season with the Des Moines Demons of the Class A Western League in 1926 was unanticipated. He harnessed his fastball (a league-leading 190 strikeouts) and improved his control (only about half as many walks per nine innings as his previous career average) to set career-highs in wins (28) and innings (349) while becoming one of the most unhittable pitchers in the league. A first-team all-star, Malone helped lead the Demons to the league title.
Malone was quick to credit his recent marriage to Marion Seeley of Milan, Ohio, as the reason for his miraculous turnaround. He claimed that a quiet home life and early nights helped him rededicate his life to baseball. They had one child, Patricia. During the offseasons, the Malones lived in Milan, Altoona, and in Los Angeles when the pitcher was among the highest-paid members of the Cubs, earning a reported $22,500 annually. Malone was an avid hunter and fisherman and enjoyed golf.
Minnesota Millers owner and manager Mike Kelley recognized that his acquisition of Malone in 1924 might soon pay big financial dividends. Pitching exclusively for the Millers in 1927, Malone proved that he was a bonafide major leaguer by leading the American Association in strikeouts (214) and ranking in the top five in almost every important pitching category, including wins (20), innings (319), and games (53). By the end of the season, teams were clamoring to purchase Malone’s contract. The Chicago Cubs had an advantage. Cubs’ skipper Joe McCarthy and Kelley were friends and had known each other since at least 1919, when McCarthy began managing the Louisville Colonels in the American Association. Kelley sold Malone to the Cubs for a reported $25,000, including an immediate $15,000 payment with an option of either the balance due or the return of Malone to Minneapolis by the June 15 trading deadline the following season.
Malone joined the 1928 Cubs pitching staff, which included three established starters, led the previous season by 26-game-winner Charlie Root, lefty Guy Bush, and dependable Sheriff Blake. Struggling with his control during most of spring training on Catalina Island, California, Malone lost out to 35-year-old former Giant Art Nehf and 28-year old Percy Jones as the team’s fifth starter. His big-league career began as a nightmare, as he lost five of his first six appearances. On April 12 at Redland Field in Cincinnati, Malone debuted in the seventh inning in relief of Jones. He yielded three hits and issued two walks in 1⅔ innings, was undone by sloppy fielding that led to six runs (all unearned), and was charged with the 9-3 loss. Malone’s luck turned around in early May. After an impressive five-inning relief performance against the Phillies in which he struck out eight to earn his first major-league victory, Malone pitched a complete-game six-hitter to defeat John McGraw’s Giants, 4-2, on May 12. The Cubs moved into sole possession of first place five days later behind Malone’s first of 15 big-league shutouts, a five-hitter against Boston. Though they spent only four more days in first, the Cubs battled the Cardinals and Giants for the pennant the entire season and finished in third place, just four games behind league champion St. Louis.
Malone proved to be the Cubs’ most successful and consistent pitcher, especially during the pennant race in the last two months of the 1928 season. He won nine of ten decisions in August and September, hurled complete games in eight of his last nine starts, relieved in four other games, and notched a 2.41 ERA in 89⅔ innings. For the season, he paced the team with 18 wins, 250⅔ innings, and 42 appearances (25 starts). His 155 strikeouts and 5.56 strikeouts per nine innings were second only to Brooklyn Robins ace Dazzy Vance, with whom he was compared because of his size and fastball. Malone earned McCarthy’s trust, and Marse Joe leaned on the big, broad shoulders of Pat Malone for the next two years.
In 1929 the Cubs won their first pennant since 1918 behind the heavy hitting of offseason acquisition and eventual MVP Rogers Hornsby (39 home runs, 149 RBIs, and a .380 average) and slugger Hack Wilson (39-159-.345), and the league’s best pitching trio, Malone, Root, and Bush, who won a combined 59 games. Malone got off to a hot start, winning his first five starts, including two shutouts. On June 12 he struck out a career-high 12 Phillies in a complete-game victory, and then struck out ten Cardinals in his next start, another complete-game win. An Associated Press story suggested that Malone had “probably the fastest ball in the major leagues.”[fn]“Cubs Depend on Pat Malone,” (Associated Press), Meriden (Connecticut) Daily Journal, September 24, 1929, 3.[/fn] Cubs beat reporter Edward Burns praised Malone’s “comet ball,” which was even deadlier with a recently honed change-of-pace.[fn]Edward Burns, “Maybe Pat’s Out for Fun, but He’s Won a Lot of Games,” Chicago Daily Tribune, September 28, 1929, 19.[/fn] As the Cubs pulled away from Pittsburgh and New York, Malone concluded the season with a yeoman’s performance, completing his last five starts and winning four of them. On September 19 at Wrigley Field, he exacted revenge against the Giants by tossing his league-leading fifth shutout to notch his NL-best 22nd victory, 5-0. With four games of at least ten strikeouts (there were only ten such games in the entire major leagues in 1929), Malone broke Vance’s seven-year hold on the strikeout title with a career-best 166.
Facing the overwhelming favorite Philadelphia Athletics in the World Series, Malone was clobbered in Game Two. In 3⅔ innings he yielded five hits, walked five, and gave up six runs (three earned) in crushing 9-3 loss. Following two-thirds of an inning in relief during the horrendous bottom of the seventh inning in Game Four, Malone cruised through the first eight innings in his start two days later in Game Five, surrendering just two hits. Mule Haas tied the game in the ninth with a two-run blast. Four batters later, Malone was tagged for a two-out walk-off Series-ending double by Bing Miller.
The Cubs were preseason favorites to return to the World Series in 1930, but their season was an unmitigated disaster defined by injuries and an increasingly acrimonious and tension-filled clubhouse. Hornsby, injured most of the year, undermined McCarthy’s relationship with Cubs owner William Wrigley, who held Marse Joe responsible for the World Series loss to the Athletics. In the Year of the Hitter (the NL posted a record-high 4.97 ERA), Malone was the team’s most consistent and effective pitcher, and came to McCarthy’s rescue throughout the season. His complete-game victory over Brooklyn on August 14 kept the Cubs in first place. The Black Knight (as papers often called him in reference to his military background) pitched the final two innings in relief on August 29 to earn the victory over the Cardinals in a 13-inning contest and keep the Cubs in first place by a season-high 5½ games. But disaster struck in September. The Cubs won only 9 of 22 games to begin the month and squandered their lead as the Cardinals won 21 of their last 25 games to grab the pennant. The final insult of the season occurred when McCarthy was unceremoniously fired with four games left in the season and replaced by Hornsby. The NL’s most dominant pitcher, Malone led the league in wins (20) and complete games (22); he also set personal bests with 45 appearances, 35 starts, and 271⅔ innings.
The relationship between Malone and Hornsby started off bad in 1931 and worsened throughout the season. Hornsby blamed the Cubs’ collapse the previous September on Malone’s (and other pitchers’) poor conditioning and vowed to make changes in spring training. Without the even hand of McCarthy, Malone bristled under Hornsby’s tyrannical approach to managing. Malone missed much of spring training because of shoulder problems and began the season slowly (just three wins through May), which further exacerbated his rapport with Hornsby. The hostilities came to a boiling point after a terrible outing by Malone on June 26 against the Braves, when he yielded four runs in just a third of an inning. Hornsby called the pitching “distasteful” and publicly intimated that Malone was a flop.[fn]The Sporting News, July 9, 1931, 1.[/fn]
With his thunderous laugh, Malone was described as an “overgrown boy” and prankster who played practical jokes on everyone around him.[fn]Edward Burns, “Maybe Pat’s Out for Fun, but He’s Won a Lot of Games,” Chicago Daily Tribune, September 28, 1929, 19.[/fn] Sportswriter Frank Graham called him “one of the most popular players ever to wear a Cubs uniform … [who] never let his fans down.”[fn]Frank Graham, “Setting the Pace.” No source given. Undated article from Pat Malone player file, National Baseball Hall of Fame.[/fn] He was an acknowledged vocal clubhouse leader and supportive teammate. But Malone was also temperamental, upset easily by umpires or fans’ razzing, and needed gentle coaxing from a supportive manager. McCarthy tolerated Malone’s excesses, drinking, and occasional attention-grabbing headlines, such as his arrest for disorderly conduct at a South Side bar in 1930.[fn]“Pat Malone Is Freed by Court, Pays Cafe Bill,” Chicago Daily Tribune,
May 10, 1930, 18.[/fn] General manager William Veeck even paid the expenses for Malone’s wife to accompany the team on road trips to chaperone Malone. But with McCarthy gone, Malone was seen as a “problem child” during the remainder of his Cubs tenure.[fn]Edward Burns, “Cubs to Trade Malone at League Meeting,” Chicago Daily Tribune, February 4, 1934, B1.[/fn]
By 1931 roommates Hack Wilson and Malone were inseparable drinking buddies with reputations as barroom brawlers. And their careers seemed to be veering out of control. In September The Sporting News reported that the Cubs “passed a vote of censure against Pat Malone who has rebelled against social conventions” (a euphemism for drinking).[fn]The Sporting News, September 10, 1931, 4.[/fn] The low point of Malone’s career came on September 5 when he beat up two sportswriters in a Pullman wagon in Cincinnati while Wilson looked on. It wasn’t the first time Malone assaulted writers. Hornsby was livid and vowed that “Wilson and Malone will not be with my ball club in 1932.”[fn]The Sporting News, September 17, 1931, 4.[/fn] Embarrassed by their players’ actions, Wrigley and Veeck suspended Wilson and fined Malone $500. Never one to take himself or baseball too seriously, Malone shrugged off the incident and pitched complete-game victories in his next three starts. He finished with 16 wins. Cubs reporter Irving Vaughan’s headline “Malone Draws Reprieve from Cubs” underscored the team’s approach to Malone, who was either the hero or villain.[fn]The Sporting News, October 8, 1931, 1.[/fn]
The Cubs began the 1932 season as an aging team searching for a new identity after the offseason death of owner William Wrigley. Wilson was jettisoned in the winter, but “Phat Pat” was back on the North Side.[fn]Edward Burns, “Cubs Gain in Pennant Race, Whip Phils, 7-0,” Chicago Daily Tribune, July 8, 1932, 19.[/fn] Like the rest of the team, Malone was mired in mediocrity (10-10, 3.34 ERA), when Hornsby was replaced by his polar opposite, Charlie Grimm, a laid-back player-manager. In Jolly Cholly’s first game as skipper, Malone tossed a complete-game victory over the Phillies. The victory marked the beginning of a 23-5 stretch that catapulted the Cubs from a five-game deficit to a seven-game lead in the pennant race. For the red-hot Cubs, Malone concluded the season as a tough-luck loser, winning just four of 11 decisions (the Cubs scored one run total in three of the losses; two other losses were by one run). Malone won 15 games, and for the fifth consecutive and final time in his career logged at least 200 innings (237). He also lost a career-high 17 games.
For the surprising NL pennant winners, Malone was the odd man out as Grimm opted for a three-man rotation (19-game winner Bush, 22-game winner Lon Warneke, and a rejuvenated 33-year-old Root) against the prohibitive favorite New York Yankees in the World Series. The Bronx Bombers were piloted by ex-Cub manager Joe McCarthy. Malone’s only appearance was in Game Three. He replaced Root after Charlie gave up another set of consecutive blasts to Ruth (his famous “called shot”) and Gehrig, and pitched 2⅔ scoreless innings in a 7-5 loss. The Yankees clobbered the Cubs in Game Four (13-6) to sweep the Series.
For the second consecutive winter, trade rumors swirled around Malone, and they continued into the season. At various times he was reported on his way to the Braves, Reds, and Phillies. Malone was bothered by season-long nagging shoulder problems, and his campaign was a study in contrasts. He posted winning streaks of four (all complete games) and three games; but his three-, six-, and especially a five-game losing streak (during which he logged just 23½ innings and posted an 8.49 ERA) suggested his demise. He was relegated to the bullpen for the final four weeks of the season and made just three relief appearances.
Malone’s holdout prior to the 1934 season rekindled reports that he was “hard to handle” and “frivolous in nature.”[fn]Edward Burns, Cubs Dispose of Malone; Want Hallahan,” Chicago Daily Tribune, October 11, 1934, 21.[/fn] The Sporting News described him as a “champion [in night clubbing].”[fn]The Sporting News, February 15, 1934, 5.[/fn] After splitting his first four decisions, Malone lost his position in the starting rotation. He made his first start in almost a month in the second game of a doubleheader on May 30 (after seven consecutive relief appearances), but pitched inconsistently. Malone’s victory over the Phillies on July 19, in which he yielded three hits over seven innings, inaugurated an unlikely six-game winning streak. The Chicago Daily Tribune declared that Malone “is the only consistently good Cubs pitcher” on an underachieving team.[fn]Edward Burns, “Malone Fans 12 Phillies; Cubs Win, 2-0,” Chicago Daily Tribune, August 19, 1934, A1.[/fn] Malone concluded the streak with arguably the most dominant game in his career, a two-hit shutout over Philadelphia on August 18 at Wrigley Field. He also tied his career high with 12 strikeouts. It proved to be his last win as a member of the Cubs. After his next start (a loss to Brooklyn), on August 24, Malone was mysteriously pulled from the starting rotation and made just two relief appearances the rest of the season. While the Cubs hit bottom in September with a 12-14 record, the tension between Malone and Grimm was palpable as sportswriters attempted to sort out details of Malone’s benching. The Cubs kept quiet on the subject, but Malone publicly berated the team, claiming that his unofficial suspension was a ploy to rob him of bonuses he would earn with each win beginning with his 15th.[fn]The Sporting News, October 25, 1934, 1, and July 27, 1939, 4. Bonuses paid to players achieving statistical milestones were frowned upon at the time and were often gentlemen’s agreements not stipulated in contracts. Commissioner Kenesaw Landis considered bonuses detrimental to the interests of the game because they were “special incentives which rich owners could hold to his athletes while poorer clubs were placed at a disadvantage.” See The Sporting News, September 18, 1946, 18. Malone’s alleged bonuses were reported to range from $250 per game beginning with his 15th victory and $3,000 if he reached 15 victories.[/fn] “Anywhere will do just as long as it isn’t with the Cubs,” said Malone when asked where he anticipated playing in 1935.[fn]The Sporting News, October 25, 1934, 1.[/fn]
On October 26, 1934, the Cubs sent Malone and cash to the Cardinals for minor-league catcher Ken O’Dea (a capable backup to Gabby Hartnett for the next four years). The trade marked the end of the NL’s most successful and durable pitching trio from 1928-34. In their seven years together, Bush (121-64, 1,587⅓ innings), Malone (115-79, 1,632), and Root (100-79, 1,556⅔) accounted for 336 wins and 4,776 innings. Some players were disappointed to see Malone leave. “[Wilson and Malone] were two of the most lovable hoodlums in baseball,” said catcher Gabby Hartnett. “Never a dull moment in the clubhouse, dugout, or hotel lobby with either of those two Indians around.”[fn]The Sporting News, February 27, 1936, 3.[/fn]
Malone refused to report to the Cardinals after hearing that general manager Branch Rickey expected him to take a reported 50 percent salary cut to $5,000.[fn]The Sporting News, February 21, 1935, 7.[/fn] Rickey thought he had an ace in the hole to make some money. On December 17, 1934, he placed Malone on waivers and no one claimed him. “If Rickey says that all the clubs have waived on me, I’ll do a little gambling with him,” Malone said mistrustfully about the waiver shenanigans. “I knew this was coming way back last fall and I asked if I could buy my release. Rickey will never see me for that kind of money.”[fn]Ibid.[/fn] Malone and Rickey eventually reconciled their differences, enabling the pitcher to report to spring training, but Malone was unexpectedly sold on March 26, 1935, to the Yankees. The waiver transaction caused a controversy. Brooklyn had originally claimed Malone the first time Rickey placed Malone on waivers, on October 29 (St. Louis withdrew him after Brooklyn’s claim), and argued that Rickey did not go through the proper channels when placing him on waivers the second time.
Malone spent his final three years in the big leagues reunited with his trusted manager, Joe McCarthy, who had attempted to acquire him in the spring of 1934.[fn]The Sporting News, April 4, 1935, 1.[/fn] Malone’s limited personal success (at least compared to his tenure with the Cubs) was offset by enormous team success and two world championships.
The big right-hander arrived at the Yankees’ spring training in St. Petersburg overweight, out of shape, and with a sore shoulder, which raised questions about whether Rickey knew of the injury. Malone’s season was a washout. He made just two ineffective starts among his 29 appearances and logged only 56⅓ innings. Malone’s precipitous fall (3-5 with a 5.43 ERA) was shocking, especially considering McCarthy and Rickey anticipated that he was still a front-line starter capable of winning 15 games.
Despite Malone’s terrible season, McCarthy gave him another chance in 1936. “I am going to pitch Malone into winning form,” said Marse Joe, “or run him out of the league.”[fn]The Sporting News, April 2, 1936, 2.[/fn] Malone sensed the seriousness of his predicament. He replaced his rotten teeth, a longtime source of chronic pain and a cause of headaches. Feeling strong and rested, Malone pitched four-hit, one-run ball over six innings of relief in his second appearance of the season. It was his best performance since August 1934 and earned him a spot start. Malone responded by hurling a complete-game eight-hitter against the Browns, striking out nine in an 8-2 victory. At the All-Star break, Malone was a surprising 8-2 with five saves, but owned a high ERA (5.54). In the second half of the season, the Yankees ran away with the pennant behind the league’s most potent offense (scoring 1,065 runs) and stingiest pitching staff (surrendering 731 runs). And Malone played an important role as a fireman, posting an impressive 2.12 ERA in 68 relief innings. Relying on his three-quarters-to-overhand curveball as much as his fastball, he concluded the season with two consecutive complete-game victories to push his record to 12-4. His nine saves (an unofficial statistic at the time) led the league; his 3.81 ERA (in 134⅔ innings) was second-best on the team for pitchers with at least 100 innings.
In New York Malone endeared himself to his teammates, coaching staff, and especially to the sportswriters. On teams expected to win, he seemed to lighten the pressure with his pranks, practical jokes, and sometimes adolescent humor. Writers and players called him “Blubber” in reference to his whale-like physical stature; even Malone took to the moniker. At this point in his career, he regularly weighed 230 pounds. A team player, Malone responded to McCarthy’s style of leadership, and though he was known to still enjoy a few beers in a tavern, he did not have the kinds of fights and incidents with reporters that marred his tenure in Chicago.
In the 1936 World Series against the New York Giants, the first all-Gotham Series since 1923, Malone relieved Bump Hadley to start the ninth inning of Game Three and earned a save in the Yankees’ tension-filled 2-1 victory. With the Yankees up three games to one, he returned to the mound to start the seventh inning in Game Five with the game tied, 4-4. After pitching three no-hit, scoreless innings, Malone yielded a leadoff double to Jo-Jo Moore, who later scored the eventual winning run on player-manager Bill Terry’s long sacrifice fly to center field in the tenth inning. Malone had two strikes on Terry and seemingly had a third, but the pitch was called outside by home plate umpire Cy Pfirman. The Yankees failed to score off starter Hal Schumacher, and lost the game, 5-4. Notwithstanding Malone’s “underserved loss,” the Yankees pummeled the Giants, 13-5, in Game Six to win the Series.[fn]The Sporting News, October 15, 1936, 8.[/fn]
Described as a “stout-hearted has-been of another era,” Malone earned another championship in 1937, though he did not pitch in the World Series.[fn]The Sporting News, March 4, 1937, 4.[/fn] Unable to duplicate the magic from the previous season, he faltered to a 4-4 record with a career-worst 5.48 ERA in 92 innings. The Yankees released him in January 1938, but McCarthy vowed to help find him a job.
Malone’s final season in Organized Baseball was a forgettable one. McCarthy, still loyal to his big right-hander, pulled in a favor from Mike Kelley and the Minnesota Millers, who bought Malone’s contract.[fn]The Sporting News, February 24, 1938, 5.[/fn] Unfortunately, Malone lasted for only one relief appearance before he abruptly quit the team in April. He had been suspended after a drunken melee at the team’s hotel in Indianapolis before Opening Day, and his relationship with the team soured quickly. After Baltimore of the Double-A International League purchased his contract, Malone split the season with the Orioles and the Chattanooga Lookouts of the Class A1 Southern Association, where he was reunited with new manager and former nemesis Rogers Hornsby. Malone posted a combined 6-16 record and 4.62 ERA for the three teams. Baltimore sold his contract to the Oakland Oaks of the Double-A Pacific Coast League in the offseason, but Malone chose to retire on February 20, 1939, instead of reporting.
Malone never shied away from challenging anyone. “[He] was a stuff pitcher,” said Ed Froehlich. “He didn’t have finesse, didn’t nibble the corners. He threw straight down the middle of the plate and beat you with his stuff.”[fn]Peter Golenbock, 197.[/fn] In his ten-year big-league career, Malone won 134 and lost 92, logged 1,915 innings, posted a 3.74 ERA (111 ERAplus), and was on four pennant winners. In eight seasons in the minors, he recorded 98 wins and 113 losses.
The 36-year-old Malone returned to his hometown in the Allegheny Mountains with his wife and daughter and opened a saloon in downtown Altoona. Less than six years after he played his last big-league game, big Pat Malone died on May 13, 1943, of acute pancreatitis, a disease that can be caused by alcohol abuse. He was just 40 years old. Even in retirement, he never lost his love for the game. “You go out on the mound one day, feeling great and thinking you have a lot of stuff,” Malone once said of the thrills and frustrations of pitching. “Then the opposition pins your ears back in a couple of innings. You warm up, feel out of shape, know you haven’t any speed, and realize your curve isn’t breaking. But you go out and pitch a two-hit game. That’s baseball.”[fn]The Sporting News, November 9, 1933, 3.[/fn]
This biography appears in “Winning on the North Side: The 1929 Chicago Cubs” (SABR, 2015), edited by Gregory H. Wolf.
Chicago Daily Tribune
New York Times
The Sporting News
Pat Malone player file at the National Baseball Hall of Fame, Cooperstown, New York