Longtime rivals Christy Mathewson and Mordecai Brown face off one last time
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Taking place in early September in Chicago, the last meeting of the two heralded pitchers would not have been possible without a transaction earlier in the season. Christy Mathewson – a career-long New York Giants star – was traded to the Cincinnati Reds in mid-July. He had not pitched since July 4 – entering a quasi-retirement of sorts – but Mathewson toed the rubber one last time Sept. 4.
Fittingly, this duel would turn out to be the last pitching performance of Brown and Mathewson’s career. Mathewson advertised the fact that, indeed, he would be pitching one last time against his old rival. “You can positively count on my pitching against Brown on Sept. 4th,” he said.
The game had about as much fanfare as a World Series. “[it] was probably the most sentimental hurling duel [that was] ever staged,” baseball historian Lee Allen said.
In the 25th meeting between the two foes, both Brown and Mathewson went the full nine innings. However, the final showdown was a far cry from the pitching battles that came earlier in the rivalry.
Mathewson earned the win, giving up eight runs in nine frames, while Brown also pitched a complete game, giving up 10 earned runs.
Rivalry aside, two of the greatest pitchers of an era of great pitchers combined for 612 career wins, 3,882 strikeouts, 134 shutouts, 706 complete games, 7,961 innings pitched with 19 20-win seasons in 31 total seasons pitched. Mathewson had a career ERA of 2.13, while Brown’s ERA was 2.06.
Mathewson was elected to the Hall of Fame with the inaugural class of 1936. Brown joined him in Cooperstown in 1949.
“They were both idols of the fans and ideal ball players,” New York sportswriter Sam Crane said. “They were a credit to the game.”
Andrew Kivette was a public relations intern in the Hall of Fame’s Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program for Youth Leadership Development