According to Wilkipedia, the years 1900-1919 were known as the “dead ball era” in baseball. Again, from Wilkipedia, “The term also accurately describes the condition of the “baseball”. A baseball cost three dollars, a hefty sum then equal to $37.74 in current dollars.Club owners were therefore reluctant to spend much money on new balls, if not necessary. It was not unusual for a single baseball to last an entire game, by the end of which, the ball would be dark with grass, mud, and tobacco stains, and misshapen from contact with the bat. Balls were replaced only if they were hit into the crowd and lost, and many clubs employed security guards solely to retrieve balls hit into the stands.”
The following pitchers, who played from 1910-1919, dominated during the second decade of the dead ball era.
In particular, the Washington Senators’ Walter Johnson lead in virtually all the major pitching categories during the period. Johnson, nicknamed The “Big Train”, led in wins (265), strikeouts (2,219), earned run average (ERA) with a 1.59 mark, innings pitched (3,427.2) and shutouts (74). Johnson even had 20 saves during the period!
However, there were also other pitchers that had outstanding 10-year runs from 1910-1919.
The statistics are based on data contained in Baseball Digest (May/June 2010, Vol. 69, No.3).
Grover Alexander, who played for the Philadelphia Phillies from 1911-1917, and the Chicago Cubs for the remainder of the decade, was second in wins for the period, with 208. He was also second to Johnson in strikeouts (1,539), innings pitched (2,753), and shutouts (70). In addition, Alexander was fourth in ERA with 2.09.
Eddie Cicotte was third in wins (162) and innings pitched (2,535), fifth in strikeouts (1,104), tied for sixth in shutouts (28), and 10th in ERA (2.29). Cicotte pitched for the Boston Red Sox (1910-1912) and the Chicago White Sox for the rest of the decade.
Cicotte’s career ended badly and prematurely. He was a member of the 1919 Chicago “Black Sox,” that supposedly “threw”, or lost on purpose, the 1919 World Series against the Cincinnati Reds. According to Wikipedia, “In the 1919 World Series against the Reds, Cicotte pitched in three games, winning one but pitching ineffectively and losing the other two.
Cicotte was the first of the eight players to come forward, signing a confession and a waiver of immunity. He later recanted this confession and was acquitted of all charges at trial by jury. Despite this, Cicotte and his alleged co-conspirators were subsequently made permanently ineligible for baseball by Kenesaw Mountain Landis, Major League Baseball’s new commissioner, recently hired to restore the integrity of the game in the wake of the 1919 scandal.”
Hippo Vaughn, who played for the New York Highlanders (ultimately to be renamed the Yankees) from 1910-1912, also appeared with the Senators in 1912, and spent the rest of the decade with the Chicago Cubs. He was third in strikeouts (1,253) and saves (37), fourth in wins (156) and innings pitched (2,317.1).
Slim Sallee led the decade in saves with a modest (by today’s standards) 32. He also was fifth in wins with 149 and innings pitched (2,244.2). Sallee played for the St. Louis Cardinals (1910-1916), also the New York Giants in 1916-1917, and finished the decade with the Reds in 1919. He played against Cicotte in the infamous 1919 World Series.
Other pitchers making an impression in multiple categories during the period include Eddie Plank, who was seventh in wins (140), eighth in ERA (2.25). Plank pitched for the Philadelphia Athletics from 1901-1914, the St. Louis Terriers of the Federal League in 1915, and finished his career with the St. Louis Browns in 1916-1917.
Claude Hendrix was seventh in strikeouts (1,020) and innings pitched (2,167.2), and tied for seventh in shutouts with 27. He was also ninth in wins (135). He pitched for the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1911-1913, the Chicago Chi-Feds and Whales of the Federal League in 1914-1915, and finished the decade with the Chicago Cubs.
Baseball Digest (May/June 2010, Vol. 69, No.3).
Various ESPN.com baseball sites
Eddie Cicotte’s Biography:
Hippo Vaughn’s Biography:
Slim Sallee’s Biography:
Claude Hendrix’s Biography: