Ed WalshEdward Augustine Walsh
Inducted to the Hall of Fame in: 1946
Primary team: Chicago White Sox
Primary position: Pitcher
"Big Ed Walsh. Great big, strong, good-looking fellow," Hall of Famer Sam Crawford said. "He threw a spitball. I think that ball disintegrated on the way to the plate, and the catcher put it back together again. I swear, when it went past the plate, it was just the spit went by."
Two achievements in particular speak to right-hander Ed Walsh's dominance of opposing batters at the turn of the 20th century: his lifetime ERA of 1.82, the lowest of all time, and his 40-win season for the 1908 Chicago White Sox. Walsh won 195 times in a 14-year career. Among modern era pitchers, 1901 to present, only contemporary Addie Joss at 1.89 registered a career ERA below the 2.00 mark. As to the latter accomplishment, Walsh is the last pitcher to top 40 wins in a season, with only Christy Mathewson (37 wins in 1908) and Walter Johnson (36 in 1913) coming anywhere close—though in a touch of irony Walsh did not lead the American League in ERA during his 40-win season. It being the height of the Deadball era, both Joss (1.16) and Cy Young (1.26) bested Walsh’s 1.42 ERA.
“Big” Ed Walsh stood 6-foot-1 and weighed 193 pounds and by his own estimate he threw his outstanding spitball, taught to him by teammate Elmer Stricklett, about 90 percent of the time. At the peak of his powers, Walsh exhibited strong control of the slippery pitch, topping out at 2.2 walks per nine innings in 1912, the final year of his iron-man run. He broke in with the White Sox as a 22-year-old rookie in 1904 and worked as a spot starter (21 times) and reliever (19 relief appearances) for two seasons before ascending to ace of the White Sox in 1906. Chicago’s “Hitless Wonder” club of ’06 rode Walsh all the way to a World Series championship against the cross-town Cubs. Walsh won both of his Series starts, allowing seven hits and six runs (only one earned) in 15 innings. He struck out 17 Cubs batters.
For seven seasons, from 1906 through ’12, no pitcher in the game was more durable than Walsh, and few were as effective. He paced all of baseball with 268 starts (an average of more than 38 per year), 2,526 1/3 innings (nearly 361 per year) and 1,540 strikeouts during those seven seasons—and he also ranked second with 89 relief outings and 33 saves! Only Mathewson, with 184 victories in that window, logged more than the 168 wins by Walsh, who posted a 1.71 ERA and .600 winning percentage at his peak.
Beginning in 1913 Walsh struggled with arm injuries, later recalling: “My arm would keep me awake till morning with a pain I had never known before.” He appeared in just 33 games and pitched 190 2/3 innings in the five seasons from 1913 though ’17, earning his release from the White Sox in December ’16 and retiring after one partial season with the Boston Braves.
"Umpiring is like everything else," Walsh said. "If you make the men respect you, and can prove that you know how to run the game, you won't have much trouble."
Year Inducted: 1946
Primary Team: Chicago White Sox
Position Played: Pitcher
Birth place: Plains, Pennsylvania
Birth year: 1881
Died: 1959, Pompano Beach, Florida
Chicago White Sox (1904-1916)
Boston Braves (1917)
Chicago White Sox (1924)
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