Posts Tagged ‘Ossie Schrecongost’

1908: “The Greatest Game Ever Pitched”

October 2, 2018

Ed Walsh (left) and Addie Joss in 1908

On 2 October 1908, with both Cleveland and Chicago still alive for the American League pennant, the two teams met in Cleveland. By the time the game ended, some newspapers christened it “the greatest game ever pitched.” Over 100 years later it still has some claim to the title.

The two pitchers were twin Hall of Famers Addie Joss and Ed Walsh. Joss came into the game sporting a 23-11 record while Walsh was 39-14. Both were staff aces and each was on the verge of completing an extraordinary season.

Both men got through the first two innings without harm. In the bottom of the third Cleveland outfielder Joe Birmingham singled and stole second. Walsh, a noted spitball pitcher, uncorked one that White Sox catcher Ossie Schrecongost let slip by for a passed ball. Birmingham scampered home for the first run.

And it was to be the only run of the game. Walsh was magnificent allowing one unearned run on four hits and a walk. He struck out 15 in eight innings. But this was Joss’ masterpiece. He threw 74 total pitches, struck out three, and allowed not one Chicago runner to reach first. It was a perfect game, only the second in American League history (Cy Young had one in 1904).

For the season Walsh would win 40 games, strike out 269, have six saves, 11 shutouts, and an ERA of 1.42. All of those except the latter led the AL. With an ERA of 1.16 Joss took that title. In the modern category of WAR, Walsh ended the year at 10.0. Joss was at 8.6.

It wasn’t a deathblow to the ChiSox. They were 2.5 games back (three in the loss column) with four games to play. One more game with Cleveland was followed by a three game set against the league leading Detroit Tigers. For Cleveland it put them only a half game back of Detroit (two in the loss column). They had the one game left with Chicago then had a four game series with the St. Louis Browns. Both still had a pennant shot. For Chicago, the three games against Detroit would make or break their season.