top of page
file.jpg
  • Writer's pictureSSTN Admin

The First 300-Game Winner

by Dan Schlossberg

February 2024

***

Note - This article appeared in Here's The Pitch, the newsletter for the IBWAA in January 2024 and is used with permission.

***

With 300-game winners already an extinct species, it’s high time to salute the first one.


James Francis Galvin, variously called “Pud” (because he made opposing hitters quiver like pudding) or “The Little Steam Engine” (because he threw hard despite his 5’8” stature), won 361 games in a 14-year career that spanned 1875-1892.


Working almost every game, he twice won 46 games in a season, once won 37, and topped 600 innings pitched two years in a row.


The only 300-game winner never to pitch from the modern pitching distance of 60 feet, 6 inches, Galvin was the first pitcher with 50 shutouts but never led his league in any of the three categories in the Pitching Triple Crown: wins, strikeouts, or earned run average. He also never pitched for a first-place team.


When he wasn’t pitching, he occasionally appeared in the outfield (51 games) or even at shortstop (twice) — mainly because he was an early gate attraction who was well-liked by fans, teammates, and managers.


Never mind that he allegedly used Brown-Sequard elixir, a performance-enhancing drug, in 1889.


A mild-mannered St. Louis native, Galvin pitched two no-hitters, blending his hard fastball with a “cannonball curve” (rivals said it looked like it was shot out of a cannon), baffling changeup, and proficient pickoff move (he once picked off three runners in the same inning).


He spent most of his early years with Buffalo, then in the National League, but later played with Pittsburgh. Although earned run average was not yet an official stat, his would have figured out to 2.87 if today’s rules were applied to yesterday’s stats.


In 1884, the Little Steam Engine chugged his way into the record book by stopping two streaks: 20 wins in a row by Providence and 18 straight by Old Hoss Radbourn, who won 60 times that summer (some historians credit him with “only” 59).


One of Galvin’s biggest fans was a local lawman named Grover Cleveland, a future president whose name would be given to a future 300-game winner, Grover Cleveland Alexander. Years later, when a delegation of ballplayers visited the White House, President Cleveland asked, “How’s my friend Jimmy Galvin?”


During his last three seasons, Galvin had multiple match-ups with Tim Keefe, the second 300-game winner. Galvin won the first and one of the last three.


After their last duel, no 300-game winners met until Don Sutton dueled Phil Niekro in 1986.


Galvin’s career ended after he suffered a leg injury in a collision with Cap Anson. He also suffered from weight problems and a bad finger. He spent a year as an umpire before retiring to run a saloon in Pittsburgh.


That gave him plenty of opportunities to regale customers with tales of his baseball career — which began at a time the American flag had just 38 stars.


The father of 11, Galvin hung up his spikes one year before the introduction of the current pitching distance in 1893. In fact, pitchers were banned from throwing overhand before 1884, his sixth year in the National League.


Long overlooked by baseball historians, the first 300-game winner finally climbed the steps to Cooperstown in 1965.


Twenty-three pitchers followed Pud Galvin into the 300 Club, with Randy Johnson the most recent in 2009. All but controversial Roger Clemens are in the Hall of Fame.

***

Timeless Trivia

Notable zeroes in baseball history:

0 Times Willie Mays led his league in runs batted in

0 Triple Crown winners who also led their league in stolen bases

0 MVP trophies for Ted Williams during his Triple Crown seasons

0 American League MVPs for David Ortiz during his entire career

0 Home run crowns for Stan Musial

0 Cy Young Awards for Nolan Ryan

0 No-hitters by Roger Clemens, Steve Carlton, Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and John Smoltz combined

0 Number of times players and owners met during first 42 days of 2021 lockout


The above material was excerpted from Baseball’s Memorable Misses: an Unabashed Look at the Game’s Craziest Zeroes by Dan Schlossberg (Sports Publishing, 2023).

***

Former AP sportswriter Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ covers the game for Here’s The Pitch, forbes.com, Memories & Dreams, Sports Collectors Digest, USA TODAY Sports Weekly, and other outlets. His Hank Aaron biography comes out just before the 50th anniversary of No. 715 in April. Book Dan to speak via ballauthor@gmail.com.

4 Comments


fuster
Feb 16

one eye-catching stat is that Galvin had 72 complete games in one season

Like
Robert Malchman
Robert Malchman
Feb 16
Replying to

The manager did not want to be seen pulling Pud.

Like

jjw49
Feb 16

"Pud"..... doesn't get any better than that name.....

Like
fuster
Feb 16
Replying to

knew a guy living outside of Otisville, N Y whose mother called him Pud.

Like
dr sem.png

Start Spreading the News is the place for some of the very best analysis and insight focusing primarily on the New York Yankees.

(Please note that we are not affiliated with the Yankees and that the news, perspectives, and ideas are entirely our own.)

blog+image+2.jpeg

Have a question for the Weekly Mailbag?

Click below or e-mail:

SSTNReaderMail@gmail.com

SSTN is proudly affiliated with Wilson Sporting Goods! Check out our press release here, and support us by using the affiliate links below:

587611.jpg
583250.jpg
Scattering the Ashes.jpeg

"Scattering The Ashes has all the feels. Paul Russell Semendinger's debut novel taps into every emotion. You'll laugh. You'll cry. You'll reexamine those relationships that give your life meaning." — Don Burke, writer at The New York Post

The Least Among Them.png

"This charming and meticulously researched book will remind you of baseball’s power to change and enrich lives far beyond the diamond."

—Jonathan Eig, New York Times best-selling author of Luckiest Man, Opening Day, and Ali: A Life

From Compton to the Bronx.jpg

"A young man from Compton rises to the highest levels of baseball greatness.

Considered one of the classiest baseball players ever, this is Roy White's story, but it's also the story of a unique period in baseball history when the Yankees fell from grace and regained glory and the country dealt with societal changes in many ways."

foco-yankees.png

We are excited to announce our new sponsorship with FOCO for all officially licensed goods!

FOCO Featured:
carlos rodon bobblehead foco.jpg
bottom of page