Tim Keefe

Timothy John Keefe
Inducted to the Hall of Fame in: 1964
Primary team: New York Giants
Primary position: Pitcher

Though Timothy Keefe spent the majority of his baseball career pitching from a distance of 50 feet, he also threw in an era when pitchers worked every other day, and his talent was so great that it might have withstood the test of time.

The submarine pitcher spent his first big league season throwing from 45 feet, and his last from 60 feet, six inches, notching 342 victories along the way.

In his first season, he posted a 0.86 ERA in 105 innings pitched, a record that still stands from when he accomplished the feat in 1880.

Over his 14 seasons in the majors, Keefe held many records and teamed up with fellow Hall of Famer Mickey Welch to bring the Giants not only their first pennant, but he also added two more after that one. His teammate saw the dominance Keefe had over batters firsthand.

“I never saw a better pitcher,” Welch said. “True, he did his best work from 50 feet, but he still would have had no superior at 60 feet, six inches.”

Keefe was sent to the New York Metropolitans from Troy before the beginning of his fourth season in 1883. He pitched 68 complete games that year in 68 starts for a total of 619 innings. He won 41 games and struck out 361 batters along the way.

He also pitched two complete-game victories on the same day that year for the Mets, surrendering only three hits between them. On July 4, 1883, he first threw a one-hit gem, followed by a two-hit win later that afternoon.

From that first year in New York to 1888, a span of six seasons, Keefe never won less than 32 games a year for his teams. In 1886, he had a 42-20 record with a 2.56 ERA.

His best season came in 1888 with the New York Giants. Keefe was the Triple Crown winner, leading the National League in wins (35), strikeouts (335) and ERA (1.74). He also topped the league with 51 complete games, eight shutouts, a .745 winning percentage and the fewest average hits per nine innings with 6.55.

The right-hander also had 19 consecutive victories in his best season, a record that lasted 24 years. It was also in 1888 when Keefe and Welch brought New York to the pennant for the first time, a feat the duo was destined to accomplish during their time together.

“Keefe was one of the first pitchers celebrated for his head work,” Hall of Fame historian Lee Allen said. “Teaming with...Mickey Welch, he assured the Giants of a well-pitched game almost every day.”

Keefe was the first pitcher to post three separate 300-strikeout seasons, and when he left the game of baseball in 1893, he had fanned 2,533 batters, ranking first all-time.

He won games in 47 different major league ball parks. Randy Johnson is second on the all-time list, having won in 41.

"The New York Club in traveling about the country, began to notice that as soon as they reached their hotel in any city, they happened to be visiting, Keefe retired to his room, shut himself in and wasn’t seen again excepting on the ball field. This conduct puzzled the club for a long time, until it was discovered that the big pitcher was studying short-hand, and studying it seriously, too. For hours every day and evening, Keefe practice those mysterious twirls and loops and arches and dots. To this worthy task he has since applied himself with undiminished ardor until he has attained a degree of proficiency that is safe to place him in a position of equality with the best short had writers in the country. Under these circumstances, when the great pitcher of the New York Club concludes to abandon baseball, he will undoubtedly be able, with the influence he can command, to step at once into new employment of a lucrative character. "
The Sporting Life, 1888

Career stats

Year Inducted: 1964
Primary Team: New York Giants
Position Played: Pitcher
Bats: Right
Throws: Right
Birth place: Cambridge, Massachusetts
Birth year: 1857
Died: 1933, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Played for:
Troy Trojans (1880-1882)
New York Metropolitans (1883-1884)
New York Giants (1885-1889)
New York Giants (1891)
New York Giants PL (1890)
Philadelphia Phillies (1891-1893)
Innings PitchedIP
Winning %Winning %
Games StartedGS
Complete GamesCG
Earned RunsER