Christy Mathewson was still spoken of in hushed tones when I was a boy. He won 22 games or more for 12 straight seasons, won 373 games in all, pitched three complete game shutouts in the 1905 World Series, was one of the five original inductees into the Hall of Fame. It was the era of the dead ball, but old men still remembered Mathewson’s snapping fastball, his complete command of the plate and of himself.
Not only was he a great athlete, he was an honest-to-God gentleman and scholar as well. (Mathewson attended Bucknell and got a 96 in a class devoted to Analytic Chemistry.) Badly gassed in World War I, he died young in 1925. Mathewson’s “Pitching in a Pinch” was (ghost)written in 1912, and has always been spoken of in laudatory terms. Now that it’s been reissued by Penguin, I can see why.
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