Teams: Baltimore Orioles (NL), 1899; Brooklyn Superbas, 1900; Baltimore Orioles (AL), 1901-1902; New York Giants, 1902-1908
Although his "Iron Man" nickname arose from his previous employment as an ironworker, Joseph Jerome McGinnity (1871-1929) could easily have earned the alias for his pitching exploits.
It's inconceivable today, but
Joe McGinnity pitched both ends
of a doubleheader several times.
He had, curiously, seemed too fragile only a few years earlier to make a mark in baseball. In 1894, after two forgettable seasons in the minor leagues and with his health questionable, he had even quit the game altogether and opened a saloon in his home state of Illinois.
During his layoff, however, McGinnity not only regained his strength, he developed a new pitch -- a tantalizingly slow sidearm curveball that he called "Old Sal." Returning to the professional ranks in 1898, he won 10 games for Peoria of the Western Association.
The Baltimore club, then in its last year in the National League, had seen enough promise to offer McGinnity a contract for 1899. The 28-year-old rookie won a loop-leading 28 games that year. In 1900, with the Baltimore franchise dropped and the senior circuit pared to eight teams, he moved to Brooklyn, where he paced the National League again with 29 victories.
McGinnity joined the mass exodus of NL stars to the upstart American League in 1901, reuniting with John McGraw, his manager in his rookie season in Baltimore. Midway through the 1902 campaign, both men jumped back to the senior circuit, signing with the New York Giants.
McGinnity remained with the Giants for the rest of his 10-year major-league career, topping the NL in wins three times. In 1903, McGinnity set a 20th-Century National League record with 44 complete games. Reaching his pinnacle in 1904, he bagged 35 victories and combined with Christy Mathewson to post 68 wins, a 20th-Century record for two pitchers on the same team.
Gauged by McGraw to be slipping when he logged only 11 wins in 1908, Joe was released at age 37. Although he never again pitched in the major leagues, he was still taking his regular turn on the mound in the minors as late as 1925, at the age of 54. The game's most durable pitcher, Iron Man retired in 1926 to take a coaching job with Brooklyn. McGinnity was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1945.
Here are Joe McGinnity's major league totals:
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