Looking Back at the End of Bugs Raymond’s Career

From SABR member Graham Womack at Baseball Past and Present on May 30:

One hundred years ago today, a troubled, young pitcher named Bugs Raymond won the last game of his big league career. He’d be dead barely a year later.

Fans who’ve read Lawrence Ritter’s The Glory of Their Times or watched the Ken Burns Baseball miniseries, may be familiar with Raymond, who pitched six years in the majors between 1904 and 1911, going 45-57 with a 2.49 ERA. Former New York Giants teammate Fred Snodgrass told Ritter, “Bugs drank too much and came to an early tragic end, but when he was sober, and sometimes when he wasn’t, he was one of the greatest spitball pitchers who ever lived.”

At his peak, Raymond went 18-12 with a 2.47 ERA for the Giants in 1909, though he quit the team six weeks before the season ended to tend bar. Such behavior was emblematic of his short, mercurial career. “Bugs drank a lot, you know, and sometimes it seemed the more he drank the better he pitched,” another Giants teammate, Rube Marquard told Ritter. “They used to say he didn’t spit on the ball; he blew his breath on it, and the ball would come up drunk.”

By 1910, as Raymond’s SABR biography notes, his alcoholism had progressed enough that Giants manager John McGraw hired a former New York City policeman to track Raymond.

Read the full article here: http://baseballpastandpresent.com/2011/05/30/day-baseball-history-30-1911/

Originally published: May 30, 2011. Last Updated: May 30, 2011.