Though overshadowed on the Giants staff by Christy Mathewson, Wiltse won in double
figures for New York in each of his first eight seasons and was with them for five
pennants. He had a sensational rookie year in 1904, winning his first 13 starts and
finishing 13-3. On May 15, 1906, he struck out seven consecutive Cincinnati batters
in two innings. He pitched 29 career shutouts.
Wiltse's nickname did not come from
his curveball but from the way he would reach out with his long right arm to snare
line drives and high bounders coming back through the box. Frank Bowerman, his catcher
with the Giants, would shout, "That's hooking them, George," and the name Hooks stuck.
Wiltse's brother Lewis pitched with four ML teams in 1901-03.
In the first game
of a July 4, 1908 doubleheader, Wiltse pitched a 10-inning, 1-0 no-hitter against
Philadelphia. He almost had a 30-out perfect game. With two out in the ninth, umpire
Cy Rigler failed to give Wiltse a third strike, which he later admitted could have
been called. The next pitch hit the batter. Wiltse got the next man, and was perfect
in the tenth after his team scored a run.
Wiltse pitched in relief in two 1911
World Series games, but appeared in the 1913 WS only at first base. Regular first
baseman Fred Merkle was hurt, and his replacement, Fred Snodgrass, injured his leg
sliding in the second game. Wiltse, a great fielder who loved to work out at first
base, was sent in, and made several sensational plays to save Christy Mathewson's
shutout of Philadelphia.
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