Beyond Rare 5

In 1908, both the American League and National League pennant races careened to the final games. The Cubs and the Giants, rivals with an unbridled mutual hatred, fought it out in the senior circuit. They were neck and neck on September 26 when Ed Reulbach took the mound for the Cubs against Brooklyn. The Cubs’ pitching staff was tired, so Reulbach offered to pitch both games of that day’s double header. He not only won both games, he pitched shutouts in both, the only pitcher ever to do so.

Reulbach was an outstanding pitcher for Notre Dame before leaving the Irish for medical school at the University of Vermont, where he caught the attention of major league scouts. He signed with the Cubs and pitched 13 years. He was one of the greatest ever.

Here are some of his feats other than the double header shutouts: He pitched 21 games in his career giving up three hits or fewer; in 1906, he yielded 5.3 hits per nine innings, still the 3rd lowest ratio of all-time; he gave up fewer hits than innings pitched in every season of his long career; his winning percentage of .632 is among the best ever; his lifetime ERA of 2.28 ranks 18th; his double shutouts were sandwiched within 44 consecutive scoreless innings. His statistics compare with those of Sandy Koufax.

Despite his glowing career, Ed Reulbach is unknown by even most baseball fans. As fate would have it, his obscurity followed him to his obituary. He died at 78 on July 17, 1961. Ty Cobb died the same day.

(From an article by Cappy Gagnon for the SABR bio project)

In the next post, I’ll compare the likelihood of the five players’ records being broken, putting aside Chapman’s death. I assume that no player will be killed twice.

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