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1914 Boston Braves

  • Team History
  • Historical Matchups:

    Christy MathewsonvsTom Seaver
    • Pitcher/1900-1916
    • 372-187 record
    • 2.13 ERA
    • 2,502 strikouts
    • 838 walks
    • 5 ERA titles
    • led league in wins 4 times
    • 4 strikeout titles
    • Hall of Fame 1936
    • Complete Mathewson bio
    • Pitcher/1967-1986
    • 311-205 record
    • 2.86 ERA
    • 3,640 strikeouts
    • 1,390 walks
    • 3 ERA titles
    • led league in wins 3 times
    • 5 strikeout titles
    • Hall of Fame in 1992
    • Complete Seaver bio
    The first master of the screwball, Mathewson kept opposing hitters off-balance with a breaking pitch that broke the wrong way. He only used his 'fade away' a few times a game, but the rest of his repertoire was deadly enough to establish him as the pre-eminent hurler of his time. During a streak of twelve consecutive 20-win seasons from 1903 to 1914 -- which included four 30-win totals -- Mathewson led the National League in ERA and strikeouts five times apiece, and was elected as a charter member of the Hall of Fame in 1936. Blessed with the best mechanics of his day, Seaver developed a pitching style that left his right knee in the dirt and opposing hitters in the dust. Seaver's 'drop-and-drive' delivery powered a tough fastball that helped him to strike out 3,640 batters over a 20-year career -- fourth on the all-time list. His success in 1969 (25-7, 2.21) as the ace of the World Champion Mets helped influence the development of his fellow pitchers, including Nolan Ryan. Seaver went on to lead the league in strikeouts in five of the next seven years. Finishing his career with an ERA of 2.86, Seaver was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1992 with the highest percentage of votes ever cast in favor of any candidate.
    Mathewson wasn't known for the speed of his fastball, but blowing hitters away wasn't his style. His screwball, combined with a good assortment of other breaking balls, helped 'Big Six' outsmart the competition and compile a lifetime ERA of 2.13, good for fifth on the all-time list. Seaver's fastball was his best pitch, consistently hitting the upper-90s on the radar gun. His next-best pitch was a tough slider that was almost unhittable against right-handed batters.
    The best part of Mathewson's game. He only walked 1.6 batters per nine innings over his career, and at his peak (in his later years) consistently allowed far fewer. In 1913, he gave out only 21 free passes in 306 innings of work, which included an incredible streak of 68 innings without a walk. What set Seaver's fastball apart from those of other hard throwers was his accuracy, a trait that sprung from a smooth delivery. As his arm power declined later in his career, this control allowed him to outsmart hitters rather than outgun them. Seaver never walked more than 100 batters in a season.
    Mathewson pitched in an era in which four-man rotations and complete games were the norm. But when one considers the fact that his best pitch placed an unusual amount of stress on his arm, Mathewson's resilience was outstanding. He started forty or more games in ten out of his seventeen major-league seasons, and 435 of his 636 appearances were complete games. Perhaps his greatest display of endurance came in the 1905 World Series, when he pitched three complete-game shutouts in six days against the Philadelphia A's, walking just one batter. Seaver's longevity was remarkable in that he managed to adapt his pitching style to compensate for a mid-career hip injury and the resulting loss of an overpowering fastball. Even after passing his 40th birthday, he managed to post two straight winning records for the Chicago White Sox. Seaver started 647 games in his career (the twelfth highest total all-time) of which he finished 231, an impressive total in an era of specialized relief pitching.
    A blond, blue-eyed all-American from Pennsylvania, Mathewson was a college graduate, a national checkers champion and one of the most popular baseball personalities of the early 1900's. Mathewson's clean-cut image and pleasant nature was a rare -- and appealing -- sight in an era of rough-and-tumble, win-at-all-costs ballplayers, and helped define his team as one that won and lost with equal amounts of grace. If his Giants were blowing out an opponent, Mathewson was known to allow slumping opponents a few hits to boost their spirits. Not surprisingly, he was well-respected by his opponents, who were more intimidated by his control than his velocity. Like Mathewson, 'Tom Terrific' had a squeaky-clean smile, fans galore, and a positive attitude that lifted his teammates. When he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds on June 15, 1977, Mets fans were crushed and his former club finished 37 games out of the running in last place. Seaver was one of those rare pitchers who would inevitably win games, even if he was pitching for a bad team, and often dominated them. His greatest performance might well have been on April 22, 1970, when he struck out a record 19 hitters against San Diego, including the last 10 Padres to face him. He remains the only pitcher ever to strike out 10 men in a row.

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