Cooperstown Chronicles – Bobby Matthews
There hasn’t been a starting pitcher elected to the Hall of Fame since Nolan Ryan in 1999. I’m going to go way back for one that I feel is deserving.
Bobby Matthews pitched from 1871-1887 and compiled 297 wins for the Fort Wayne Kekiongas, the Baltimore Canaries, the New York Mutuals, the Cincinnati Reds, the Providence Grays, the Boston Red Caps, and the Philadelphia Athletics. His career ERA was 2.89. If he had three more wins, 1 more win every five years of his career, he would have been a lock for the Hall of Fame. He had a three year stretch where he went 96-63. He has another three year stretch where he was 90-48. He was in the top 10 ten times in ERA (including leading the league in 1874), twelve times in Wins (2nd in 1874 with 42), twelve times in Winning Percentage, nine times in Strikeouts (led the league twice). He won 25 or more games seven times in his career. He was the first to develop the spit ball. He also was one of the first pitchers to master the curve and sinking fastball. He’s the only pitcher to win 50 games in three different major leagues (National Association, National League, and American Association). He was the winning pitcher in baseball’s first professional league. In 1878 and 1880 he pitched in non-sanctioned leagues for more money, so he is not credited with as many wins as he could have been. Judging by his record, his innovation in the art of pitching, his excellence, and his longevity, I think he should be in the Hall of Fame.