Hall of Fame: Christy Mathewson (1936)

Where did the nickname “Big Six” come from?

 Year Ag Tm  Lg  W   L   G   GS  CG SHO  GF SV   IP     H    R   ER   HR  BB   SO   ERA *lgERA *ERA+ WHIP
+--------------+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+--+------+----+----+----+---+----+----+-----+-----+----+-----+
1900 19 NYG NL 0 3 6 1 1 0 4 0 33.7 37 32 19 1 20 15 5.08 3.62 71 1.693
1901 20 NYG NL 20 17 40 38 36 5 2 0 336.0 288 131 90 3 97 221 2.41 3.32 138 1.146
1902 21 NYG NL 14 17 34 32 29 8 2 0 276.7 241 114 65 3 73 159 2.11 2.81 133 1.135
1903 22 NYG NL 30 13 45 42 37 3 3 2 366.3 321 136 92 4 100 267 2.26 3.33 147 1.149
1904 23 NYG NL 33 12 48 46 33 4 2 1 367.7 306 120 83 7 78 212 2.03 2.73 134 1.044
1905 24 NYG NL 31 9 43 37 32 8 6 2 338.7 252 85 48 4 64 206 1.28 2.93 230 0.933
1906 25 NYG NL 22 12 38 35 22 6 3 1 266.7 262 100 88 3 77 128 2.97 2.60 87 1.271
1907 26 NYG NL 24 12 41 36 31 8 4 2 315.0 250 88 70 6 53 178 2.00 2.46 123 0.962
1908 27 NYG NL 37 11 56 44 34 11 10 5 390.7 285 85 62 5 42 259 1.43 2.39 168 0.837
1909 28 NYG NL 25 6 37 33 26 8 4 2 275.3 192 57 35 2 36 149 1.14 2.54 222 0.828
1910 29 NYG NL 27 9 38 35 27 2 3 0 318.3 292 100 67 5 60 184 1.89 2.96 156 1.106
1911 30 NYG NL 26 13 45 37 29 5 6 3 307.0 303 102 68 5 38 141 1.99 3.36 168 1.111
1912 31 NYG NL 23 12 43 34 27 0 9 4 310.0 311 107 73 6 34 134 2.12 3.40 160 1.113
1913 32 NYG NL 25 11 40 35 25 4 5 2 306.0 291 94 70 8 21 93 2.06 3.13 152 1.020
1914 33 NYG NL 24 13 41 35 29 5 6 2 312.0 314 133 104 16 23 80 3.00 2.65 88 1.080
1915 34 NYG NL 8 14 27 24 11 1 1 0 186.0 199 97 74 9 20 57 3.58 2.55 71 1.177
1916 35 TOT NL 4 4 13 7 5 1 4 2 74.7 74 35 25 4 8 19 3.01 2.45 81 1.098
NYG NL 3 4 12 6 4 1 4 2 65.7 59 27 17 3 7 16 2.33 2.43 104 1.005
CIN NL 1 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 9.0 15 8 8 1 1 3 8.00 2.59 32 1.778
+--------------+---+---+---+---+---+---+---+--+------+----+----+----+---+----+----+-----+-----+----+-----+
17 Yr WL% .665 373 188 635 551 434 79 74 28 4780.7 4218 1616 1133 91 844 2502 2.13 2.89 135 1.059

2 Triple Crowns (1905, 1909)
2 No-hitters

Christopher Mathewson was born August 12, 1880 in Factoryville, Pennsylvania. He would go on to Bucknell University and play on both the football and baseball teams. Mathewson left college and signed with a team from the New England League before the New York (Baseball) Giants purchased his contract. Initially, he failed to live up to expectations, so the Reds selected him in the next Rule V draft (which was a better selection — Mathewson or Johan Santana?) and then traded him back to the Giants.

Mathewson employed a good fastball and a new pitch — the screwball — during his 17-year career. One of the best stories about Mathewson is the 1905 World Series against the Philadelphia Athletics. He pitched a 4-hit shutout in Game 1 for the win. Then, he came back three days later to throw another 4-hit shutout. To top it all off, he came back two days later and twirled a 6-hit shutout to clinch the series.

Mathewson had a great career in New York, but he didn’t do it on Sunday. He had a religious conviction against pitching on the Sabbath and may have been a reason he was called the “Christian Gentleman”. When he did pitch, he was great, and he even had a brother that pitched alongside him. Henry and Christy won the most games by brothers on a single team with 373. Christy won 373 of them, and Henry won all of 0.

The Reds would take him back for his last game in the majors on September 4, 1916. That game pitted him against his old foe Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown. Mathewson threw a complete game but gave up eight runs in his final victory. He would manage the Reds for the next two seasons until he enlisted in the Army for WWI along with Ty Cobb.

Along with Cobb, Babe Ruth, and Honus Wagner, Mathewson was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1936 with 205 votes.

Update (1/12/09 at 3:40 PM): Cool. Michael Fraser, in the comments, notes:
The “Big Six” nickname came from the top NYFD fire engine at the turn of the century. Apparently the top fire crew in New York City in 1900 was the 6th unit, and their engine had the nickname of the “Big Six”. So Mathewson’s pitching was seen as the equivalent to putting out offensive fires of the other team, the “Big Six” nickname seemed appropriate.

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2 Responses to “Hall of Fame: Christy Mathewson (1936)”

  1. Michael Fraser Says:

    The “Big Six” nickname came from the top NYFD fire engine at the turn of the century. Apparently the top fire crew in New York City in 1900 was the 6th unit, and their engine had the nickname of the “Big Six”.
    So Mathewson’s pitching was seen as the equivalent to putting out offensive fires of the other team, the “Big Six” nickname seemed appropriate.

  2. tHeMARksMiTh Says:

    Ah, thanks. I tried to look it up, but I couldn’t find it anywhere.

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