Baseball’s First ‘Babe’ Was Pittsburgh’s Adams

From SABR member Joe Guzzardi at Baseball Past and Present on May 18:

Baseball’s first “Babe” wasn’t Ruth but rather Charles Benjamin Adams, a Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher who won three 1909 World Series games games as a 27-year-old rookie.

According to baseball historians, Adams acquired his nickname because of his popularity with female fans. During a 1907 minor league stint in Louisville, more than five years before Ruth debuted with the Boston Red Sox, women cried out “Oh you babe” whenever Adams took the mound.

Adams was one of the best control pitchers ever. His record low of 1.29 walks per nine innings during his 19 major league years ranks second on the modern day list behind only teammate Deacon Phillippe’s 1.25 mark. On his stingiest day, July 17, 1914, against the New York Giants and its ace Rube Marquard, Adams pitched 21 innings, walked none but still lost a 3-1 decision.

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Originally published: May 19, 2011. Last Updated: May 19, 2011.