Carl Mays had a good Yankee career. He was the ace of the Yankees' first AL Pennant winning team in 1921 and was on the team when they won their first World Series in 1923. He was #88 in the Top 100 Yankees series here on Pinstripe Alley. He was also involved in one of the more regrettable moments in baseball history. He was the pitcher that hit Ray Chapman with a pitch that caused Chapman's death.
But that's not what this post is about. This is about one particular start in Mays' career. It's not a good start. Mays made plenty of those, but I much prefer this one. It is weird and dumb, and as always, dumb baseball is the best baseball.
On July 17, 1923, Mays got the start against the Cleveland Indians, the same opponent as the one in the aforementioned Chapman incident. It's was a battle of first and second in the AL, which sounds exciting. However, the Yankees had already opened up a double digit game lead on Cleveland.
After a scoreless first inning, this happened (Via Baseball-Reference):
Now, 13-0 games aren't foreign to baseball. It's not the craziest game imaginable, but let's take a look at Mays' stat line for the game:
He pitched the entire game for the Yankees. That is something that will only happen in the early days of baseball. Even in blowouts in the current era, one pitcher may get thrown to the wolves and is made to pitch multiple innings just to get his team through the game. But in 2015, that's not usually the starter. In 2015 baseball, Mays probably gets taken out in the fourth. Maybe he doesn't, but he definitely doesn't make it through the seventh if he's a starter of any importance to the team.
That being said, it's also a bit weird even for 1923. Yes, this was the '20s and the role of relievers wasn't what it is today. But it also wasn't the Old Hoss Radbourn era where every team had like 1.5 starters and they all threw 600 innings. I can only assume the logic of leaving him in the whole game was "You puked in my sheets? Well, you have to take them to the laundromat."
That little "GSc" in the box score stands for Game Score. Mays' -12 is the worst in Yankees' history. So this is arguably the worst start ever made by a Yankee.
The Yankees' lineup didn't help Mays out any and only picked up four hits. Funnily enough, one of those was a single by Mays.
Other things to note from this game:
- It featured a rookie Lou Gehrig going 0-1 after coming in for Wally Pipp.
- Name Hall-of-Famer Bill Wambsganss played.
- It finished in just over two hours. I know this was pre-TV so there weren't commercial breaks, but still. Today, if a team scores 13 runs in a game, that game is going four hours minimum.
As Andrew notes in the Top 100 Yankees piece on Mays, by this point he had fallen out of favor with the Yankees and wouldn't appear much down the stretch, or at all in the World Series. He was shipped off to the Reds after the '23 season.
Carl Mays had a very memorable major league career for good and bad reasons. This game probably won't be recounted in the story of his career. But that doesn't mean it isn't amazing.