Sunday, August 2, 2009

Sunday School: History Lesson 25

Erskine Mayer was a pitcher with the Phillies from 1912-1918. He was a two-time 20 game winner for our Phils. Mayer attended Georgia Tech and left to play pro ball prior to his senior year and after going 26-9 for Portsmouth in his third year in the minors, his contract was purchased by the Phillies.

As a rookie in 1913, Mayer switched between relief work and starting assignments. He finished his first full season with a 9-9 record. Mayer would become known as a workhorse. In 1914, he appeared in 48 games (39 starts), the 2nd highest total in the NL, and threw 24 complete games and 321 total innings. He had a 21-19 record with 4 shut outs, 2 saves and a 2.58 ERA. In the second game on a double header on July 27th, Mayer tossed a 1-hitter against the Cardinals. Mayer also gave up Honus Wagner's 3,000th hit earlier that season.

In 1915, Mayer won 21 games again, this time with just 15 losses and a 2.36 ERA. He pitched 274 2/3 regular season innings that year. In the World Series, Mayer started game 2, allowing only a single run through 8 innings, before losing 2-1. Mayer also started the deciding game 5 of that series against the Red Sox, and was knocked out in the third inning.

Erskine Mayer's innings and appearances began to decrease over the next couple seasons. All the work took its toll and Mayer no longer had the same stamina. In 1916, Mayer made just 16 starts and put up a 7-7 record. Mayer gave an 11-6 effort in 1917, and began 1918 with a 7-4 record, before being traded to Pittsburgh, for Elmer Jacobs.

On August 1st, 1918, Mayer engaged in one of the greatest pitching duels of all time. Art Nehf of the Boston Braves and Mayer each pitched 15 scoreless innings to begin the game. More amazingly, Nehf threw 20 scoreless innings, only to lose the game 2-1, when the Pirates finally scored 2 runs in the 21st inning. Mayer finished 1918 with an overall record of 16-7 with a 2.65 ERA, while throwing 18 complete games. Mayer would pitch just one more season in the Majors.


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