Bobby Mathews

From BR Bullpen

Bobby Mathews.jpg

Robert T. Mathews

  • Bats Right, Throws Right
  • Height 5' 5", Weight 140 lb.

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Biographical Information[edit]

"Bob Matthews depended solely on a slow-raise ball, and for years was the most effective pitcher in the country." - Tim Murnane, writing in 1892


Bobby Mathews was the first pitcher in Major League history. He won a 2-0 victory in the National Association's May 4, 1871 opener between the Cleveland Forest Citys and Fort Wayne Kekiongas.

Mathews pitched prior to the existence of the National Association, with a team called the Baltimore Marylands. He then spent five years in the National Association, five years in the National League, and five years in the American Association.

Mathews is one of the greatest pitchers who is not in the Hall of Fame, winning 297 games from 1871 onwards. That doesn't count his victories in amateur ball before 1871. He was pitching at the highest level available in 1869 and 1870, so he quite possibly won three games in that period to get him to 300.

He served as an umpire in the National Association (1871 and 1873-1875); the National League (1876, 1880 and 1882); the American Association (1888 and 1891); and the Players League ( 1890). He worked 155 games between those various assignments.

Toward the end of his life he worked in the employ of Joe Start at Start's roadhouse.


In spite of 297 victories (or more, if you count play prior to 1871), Mathews is not in the Hall of Fame. The reason is partly because his career ended approximately 50 years before the Hall got started, and so he was largely forgotten by then. The reason is also partly because he won nearly half of his games in the National Association, often considered to be less challenging than later leagues, and most of the rest of his wins in the American Association, generally considered less capable than the National League. When Mathews was in the National League, his performance was not particularly impressive, with a record of 60-75 and an overall ERA that was worse than average. Additionally, he never led any league in wins, ERA or WHIP.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • NA ERA Leader (1874)
  • 2-time NL Saves Leader (1879 & 1881)
  • NA Innings Pitched Leader (1875)
  • 2-time NA Strikeouts Leader (1872 & 1873)
  • NA Complete Games Leader (1875)
  • 2-time NA Shutouts Leader (1871 & 1874)
  • 20 Wins Seasons: 8 (1872-1876 & 1883-1885)
  • 30 Wins Seasons: 4 (1874 & 1883-1885)
  • 40 Wins Seasons: 1 (1874)
  • 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 9 (1872-1876 & 1882-1885)
  • 300 Innings Pitched Seasons: 8 (1872-1876 & 1883-1885)
  • 400 Innings Pitched Seasons: 7 (1872-1876, 1884 & 1885)
  • 500 Innings Pitched Seasons: 3 (1874-1876)
  • 600 Innings Pitched Seasons: 1 (1875)
  • 200 Strikeouts Seasons: 3 (1883-1885)

Related Sites[edit]