Hitting Homers Off Christy Mathewson

This article was written by Ray Gonzalez

This article was published in the 1980 Baseball Research Journal


Christy Mathewson was probably the greatest pitcher in National League history, and this is reflected in the outstanding statistics he compiled from 1900 to 1916 in victories, percentage, strikeouts, and earned run average. One newly developed statistic for pitchers of his era which is not so outstanding is the number of home runs he allowed.

Mathewson gave up 91 home runs in 4783 innings. That is a very good ratio by modern standards, but it must be remembered that he pitched his entire career in the deadball era prior to 1920 when comparatively few fourbaggers were hit. A look at the records of some of Matty’s pitching contemporaries indicates that they were more stingy about giving up the four-base blow (Federal League records for these hurlers are not included).

 

IP HR
Chief Bender 2850 33
Mordecai Brown 2703 33
George Mullin 3484 35
Eddie Plank 4245 41
Ed Reulbach 2363 35
Ed Walsh 2964 24

 

The New York Giants’ righthander was, over-all, a better hurler than any of the above, but probably was touched for the long ball more frequently because he was a hard thrower with good control, giving some batters a chance to dig in. They certainly did zero in on him in 1914, blasting him for 16 roundtrippers. This was the most homers given up by any NL hurler in a season in the 1900-20 period. Ironically, he still had a good season, winning 25 games.

A review of the list of players hitting home runs off Mathewson indicates many who were not great hitters or home run threats. The chief slugger of that period, Frank Schulte of the Cubs, connected only twice off “Big Six.” On the other hand, Joe Tinker, a poor batter but a notorious nemesis of Mathewson, hit three homers off the famous fadeaway finger.

It was a third Chicago Cub player, Vic Saier, who hit the most home runs off Matty. He connected five times in the relatively brief period that they were opponents. The last time was on September 4, 1916, which was the only game Matty pitched for Cincinnati and the last of his career. There were special arrangements made so that Mathewson could face his old rival, Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown of the Cubs. It also was the last game for Brown, who lost 10-8 in spite of Saier’s three-run homer.

Johnny Kling and Owen Wilson were next with four roundtrippers off Mathewson. Honus Wagner, who probably faced Matty more than any other player (because of their closely synchronized careers), reached him for only three home runs in 17 years. Matty gave up only one grand slam and this was to journeyman infielder Frank Bonner ot the Braves, who drove the ball into the rightfield stands at the Polo Grounds on April 27, 1903. Fred Tenney also homered in that game, but Matty still struggled through to a 10-7 victory.

There were two opposing hurlers who connected off Mathewson.  Willie Sudhoff of the Cardinals on June 24, 1901, and George Tyler of the Braves on May 4, 1916. As a batter, Matty hit seven homers in his career.

Mathewson was the victim of lefthanded batters 51 times and righties 40 times. In addition to the 54 homers hit off him in New York, he gave up 8 in Chicago, 7 in Philadelphia and St. Louis, 5 in Pittsburgh, 4 in Cincinnati, and 3 each in Brooklyn and Boston.

Here is a rundown of the 91 homers hit off Mathewson in his major league career.

 

Date of Game

Place

Batter and Club

Inn

Comment

 July 25 1900

N.Y.

Fred Clarke, Pitt

3

CM in relief

 June 24 1901

N.Y.

Willie Sudhoff, StL

5

Opposing hurler

 June 26 1901

N.Y.

Dick Harley, Cin

5

 

 Oct. 5 1901 (2)

Bkn

Joe Kelley, Bkn

1

 

 July 15 1902

Cin

John Dobbs, Cin

1

Lead off hr

   

Dummy Hoy, Cin

2

Last Hoy hr

 Sep. 19 1902

N.Y.

Jim Sheckard, Bkn

5

 

 Apr. 27 1903

N.Y.

Frank Bonner, Bos

4

Grand Slam

   

Fred Tenney, Bos

8

 

July 28 1903 (1)

N.Y.

Ed Greminger, Bos

6

 

Aug. 17 1903 (1)

N.Y.

Cy Seymour, Cin

3

 

June 2 1904

N.Y.

Cy Seymour, Cin

4

 

June 13 1904

N.Y.

Frank Chance, Chi

8

Beat CM 3-2

July 21 1904

Chi

Frank Chance, Chi

7

 

Aug. 17 1904

N.Y.

Moose McCormick, Pitt

9

 

Sep. 161904(1)

N.Y.

Emil Batch, Bkn

7

Ruined shutout

Sep.21 1904 (1)

N.Y.

Heinie Peitz, Cin

4

 

Sep.24 1904

N.Y.

Ginger Beaumont, Pitt

6

 

June 17 1905

StL

Dave Brain, StL

6

 

July 18 1905

N.Y.

George Gibson, Pitt

3

 

Aug.21 1905

N.Y.

Dave Brain, Pitt

6

 

Sep. 12 1905 (1)

N.Y.

Harry Lumley, Bkn

8

 

July 17 1906

Chi

Joe Tinker, Chi

6

 

Sep. 17 1906

N.Y.

Sherry Magee, Phil

4

 

Oct. 4 1906

N.Y.

John Titus, Phil

3

 

May 23 1907

N.Y.

Jim Sheckard, Chi

5

Two men on

June 19 1907

Cin

Miller Huggins, Cin

1

Leadoff hr

July 17 1907

N.Y.

Ed Abbatichio, Pitt

9

 

July 29 1907

StL

Ed Konetchy, StL

11

 

Aug. 12 1907

Pitt

Tommy Leach, Pitt

3

Bounce hr

Aug. 17 1907

N.Y.

Johnny Kling, Chi

12

 

May 25 1908

Chi

Frank Schulte, Chi

1

 

June 11 1908

N.Y.

Honus Wagner, Pitt

4

 

July 17 1908

Chi

Joe Tinker, Chi

5

Beat CM 1-0

Sep. 23 1908

N.Y.

Joe Tinker, Chi

5

Merkle miscue

Sep. 26 1908 (1)

N.Y.

Harry Bayless, Cin

8

His only hr

May 31 1909 (2)

N.Y.

John Titus, Phil

4

 

June 23 1909 (2)

N.Y.

Beals Becker, Bos

1

 

June 15 1910

N.Y.

Ham Hyatt, Pitt

7

His first hr

Aug. 2 1910

N.Y.

Frank Schulte, Chi

2

 

Aug.11 1910 (1)

N.Y.

Tom Downey, Cin

2

 

Sep. 20 1910 (2)

N.Y.

Arnold Hauser, StL

5

 

Sep.24 1910

N.Y.

Johnny Kling, Chi

9

 

June 9 1911

Pitt

Fred Clarke, Pitt

7

 

July 3 1911

Phil

Jim Walsh, Phil

4

 

July 15 1911

N.Y.

Dick Hoblitzell, Cin

6

 

Aug. 19 1911 (2)

N.Y.

Mike Mitchell, Cin

4

 

Sep. 1 1911(1)

Phil

Sherry Magee, Phil

4

 

Apr. 15 1912

Bos

Johnny Kling, Bos

7

 

May 4 1912

N.Y.

Tom Downey, Phil

8

Two men on

June 13 1912

N.Y.

Jimmy Archer, Chi

7

 

June 22 1912 (1)

Bos

Johnny Kling, Bos

8

 

Sep. 12 1912 (1)

N.Y.

Rube Ellis, StL

1

 

Sep. 16 1912

N.Y.

Jimmy Archer, Chi

7

Beat CM 4-3

May 3 1913

Phil

Cliff Cravath, Phil

8

Pinch hitter

May 16 1913

N.Y.

Ham Hyatt, Pitt

8

 

June 14 1913

Pitt

Jim Viox, Pitt

1

 
   

Owen Wilson, Pitt

9

 

July 15 1913

N.Y.

Josh Devore, Cin

6

 

Aug. 16 1913

N.Y.

Honus Wagner, Pitt

1

Two men on

Aug. 21 1913

N.Y.

Johnny Evers, Chi

5

 

Aug. 30 1913

Phil

Bobby Byrne, Phil

7

 

Apr. 18 1914

Bkn

Zach Wheat, Bkn

7

Two men on

May 4 1914

N.Y.

Jake Daubert, Bkn

4

 

May 23 1914

StL

Ivey Wingo, StL

2

 

June 1 1914

Phil

Fred Luderus, Phil

2

 

June 6 1914

N.Y.

Owen Wilson, StL

2

 
   

Ivey Wingo, StL

2

 

June 11 1914

N.Y.

Vic Saier, Chi

1

 

June 26 1914 (1)

Bos

Joe Connolly, Bos

8

 

July 11 1914

StL

Owen Wilson, StL

2

 
   

Cozy Dolan, StL

7

 
   

Walton Cruise, StL

9

Pinch hitter

July 14 1914

Chi

Vic Saier, Chi

8

Two men on

July 25 1914

N.Y.

Ed Konetchy, Pitt

7

 

Aug. 6 1914

N.Y.

Vic Saier, Clii

8

 

Aug. 29 1914 (2)

Chi

Vic Saier, Chi

4

 

Sep. 26 1914 (2)

N.Y.

Honus Wagner, Pitt

4

 

Apr. 17 1915

N.Y.

Cliff Cravath, Phil

1

 

May 1 1915

Phil

Beals Becker, Phil

1

 

May 12 1915

N.Y.

Heinie Groh, Cin

3

Two men on

June 11 1915

StL

Owen Wilson, StL

9

 

June 28 1915 (1)

N.Y.

Sherry Magee, Bos

4

 

July 7 1915

Phil

Bert Niehoff, Phil

6

Two men on

July 23 1915 (1)

N.Y.

Doc Johnston, Pitt

3

 

July 31 1915(1)

Chi

Cy Williams, Chi

4

Two men on

Sep. 14 1915

Cin

Ivey Wingo, Cin

5

 

May 4 1916

N.Y.

George Tyler, Bos

6

Opposing hurler

May 9 1916

Pitt

Walter Schmidt, Pitt

9

 

June 26 1916(1)

Bkn

George Cutshaw, Bkn

5

Two men on

Sep.4 1916 (2)

Chi

Vic Saier, Chi.

9

CM with Cincy

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