For a variety of reasons, pitchers going a full nine innings in a game has become more elusive than ever. In general, teams are a bit reticent to push their pitchers too far for fear on injury. Besides that, keeping a pitcher in too long can also be bad in certain strategical situations. Beyond the disadvantage of a pitcher tiring in general, it’s been shown that pitchers are often penalized the more they go through an opposing team’s lineup.
Due to all those factors, it’s highly unlikely we’ll ever see a Yankee pitcher do what George Mogridge do in one week in 1916.
In August 1915, the Yankees had purchased the 26-year old lefty from the Minneapolis Millers of the American Association. Mogridge had an earlier, brief stint with the White Sox from 1911-12, but didn’t especially set the world on fire.
Upon coming to New York, Mogridge had a nice run in September and October 1915, putting up a 1.76 ERA (169 ERA+) in 41 innings. That got him in the team’s plans for the 1916 season.
While an arm injury kept him out of the first couple weeks of 1916, Mogridge put together a very nice campaign. Through the end of July, he had posted a 2.09 ERA in 90.1 innings across 15 games and 10 starts. He then took the ball to kick off the Yankees’ next month for an August 1st start against the St. Louis Browns.
After being given a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, Mogridge went out and started off the game with seven shutout innings, getting within a couple outs of a complete-game win. However, St. Louis then picked up two runs off him in the eighth, partially wrecking that plan.
The Yankees’ offense managed to answer in the top of the ninth, though. They knotted things up at two, and eventually sending the game into extra innings. Mogridge then battled valiantly for another four shutout innings, only to not be rewarded with any run support. He finally couldn’t hold out any longer in the 14th inning. A RBI from future Yankee teammate Armando Marsans in the 14th gave the Browns a walk-off 3-2 win.
For the day, Mogridge allowed three runs — only one of which was credited as earned thanks to two Yankee errors — on 10 hits and a walk in 13 innings. Unfortunately, the Yankees themselves mustered just two runs on eight hits against Browns’ pitching, dooming them to a loss.
Four days later, things got even dumber for Mogridge.
After leaving St. Louis, the Yankees went up to Detroit for a series against the Tigers. Mogridge was given the start in the third game of the series on August 5th. In the first inning, he had to work around some trouble, but then retired seven in a row at one point.
While the New York offense gave Mogridge a lead in the top of the fourth, the Tigers answered back in the bottom half of the inning, thanks in part to an error by catcher Les Nunamaker. After that run, Mogridge proceeded to throw the next five innings scoreless. However, the Yankee offense again couldn’t do anything for him, as the game again went into extra innings.
Mogridge threw a 1-2-3 inning in the 10th, and the Yankees then took the lead in the 11th. The pitcher even got involved himself, recording a two-out single to keep the inning alive for Solly Hoffman. The Yankees’ center fielder delivered an RBI single to put the Yankees in front. However, Mogridge got a bit greedy and was thrown out at home to end the inning with just one run scoring. That turned out to be important.
Mogridge couldn’t quite hold off the heart of the Tigers’ order in the bottom of the 11th. Ty Cobb came up with a RBI single that kept the game going even longer.
For a second straight Mogridge start, the game went into the 14th inning. After the offense went down in order in the top half of the frame, third baseman Paddy Baumann committed an error to put the winning run on base for a Tigers. A couple batters later, Del Baker singled home that run. For the second-straight Mogridge start, the Yankees had lost a game 3-2 in 14 innings, with the pitcher himself going the distance and getting dinged by some errors from his defense.
Over the course of those two games, Mogridge went a total of 26.2 innings and allowed just three earned runs, which is an ERA of 1.01, as opposing hitters OPS’d just .370 in those contests. Yet, he came away the losing pitcher in both decisions. In fact, if you add in the two games before it and the weeks after, Mogridge was in a stretch where he was the losing pitcher in 11-straight games where he got a decision. In that span, he had a 2.45 ERA, which was better than average for 1916. That run wasn’t broken until Mogridge went down as the winning pitcher in a game on September 28th.
Mogridge remained with the Yankees through 1920, and even threw the first no-hitter in franchise history in 1917.
Mogridge later went on to win a World Series with the Washington Senators in 1924, and was generally a pretty solid pitcher over the course of his 15-year career.
The no-no might have been the southpaw’s crowning achievement, but during one stretch in 1916, Mogridge put up one of the wilder stat lines in Yankees history.