Saturday, March 19, 2005

March 19th, 1871

Joe McGinnity Born

Joe McGinnity has been dead for three-quarters of a century but still holds the National League single-season record for innings pitched, four hundred thirty-four in 1903. McGinnity nicknamed "Iron Man" not for his durability but because he worked at a foundry in the off-season, pitched in fifty-five of the New York Giants' games, starting forty-eight of them and completing all but four of his starts. The next year he threw four hundred eight innings and led the league with a 1.61 ERA. He then went on to pitch over three hundred innings his next three seasons for John McGraw and co. until he finally faltered in 1908 when he managed just one eighty-six innings in his final season for the Giants. McGinnity would never pitch in the Major Leagues again but continued to pitch in the minor leagues until he was fifty-four, just four years before his death in 1929. He attributed his longevity to an underhand pitching motion that he claimed placed less stress on the arm than a traditional overhand motion, a belief that was shared by the greatest pitcher of all time, Walter Johnson. McGinnity was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1946.

McGinnity also has the obscure honor of having played for two different Baltimore Orioles franchises, neither of which is connected to the modern Orioles. His 1899 debut Orioles were in the National League and folded after that season. In 1901, after a season in
Brooklyn, he returned to Baltimore and pitched for a new Orioles team, this one in the American League. In the midst of the 1902 season John McGraw "jumped" from the O's to the New York Giants, taking McGinnity and most of the team's stars with him. Wilbert Robinson (he of grapefruit catching fame) took over as manager of the largely gutted team. After that season, the franchise moved to New York where they became the Highlanders, and in 1913, the Yankees, a team of which you've probably heard. The 'modern' Orioles, incidentally, began their lives as the original Milwaukee Brewers in 1901, then spent just over half a century as the St. Louis Browns before being relocated to Baltimore in 1954.

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