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Erskine Mayer
Pitcher
Born: January 16, 1889(1889-01-16)
Atlanta, Georgia
Died: March 10, 1957 (aged 68)
Los Angeles, California
Batted: Right Threw: Right 
MLB debut
September 4, 1912 for the Philadelphia Phillies
Last MLB appearance
September 27, 1919 for the Chicago White Sox
Career statistics
(through Career)
Wins-Losses     91-70
Earned run average     2.96
Strikeouts     482
Teams

Philadelphia Phillies (1912-1918 Pittsburgh Pirates (1918-19)

Chicago White Sox (1919)
Career highlights and awards

Jacob Erskine Mayer (born James Erskine Mayer, January 16, 1889–March 10, 1957) was an American baseball player who played for three different Major League teams during the 1910s. In his eight-year career, Mayer played for the Philadelphia Phillies, the Pittsburgh Pirates, and the Chicago White Sox.

A right-handed pitcher, Mayer's repertoire of pitches included a curve ball which he threw from a sidearm angle.[1] As a result of his curve ball, then Brooklyn Dodgers manager Wilbert Robinson called Mayer "Eelskine" because the pitch was "so slippery."[2]

Mayer won 20 games in a single season in both 1914 and 1915. He appeared in the 1915 World Series as a member of the Phillies and in the 1919 World Series as a member of the White Sox, a series noted for the Black Sox Scandal.

He was 91-70 in his career, with a 2.96 ERA. He was one of the best Jewish pitchers in major league history, 3rd career-wise in ERA behind only Barney Pelty and Sandy Koufax, and 6th in wins, 9th in strikeouts (482), and 10th in games (245).[1]

Contents

Early life

Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Mayer attended the Georgia Military Academy for his secondary school education. Mayer then enrolled at the Georgia Institute of Technology in order to study engineering.[1] During his years at Georgia Tech, Mayer pitched on the Yellow Jackets baseball team. In 1910, after three years of school, Mayer left Georgia Tech to pursuit a career in professional baseball. He was not the only one in his family to pursue a career in baseball. Sam Mayer, Erskine Mayer's older brother, appeared in 11 games for the 1915 Washington Nationals.

Minor league career

When Mayer left Georgia Tech in 1910, he signed with the D Class Fayetteville Highlanders of the Eastern Carolina League. Mayer led the league with an .882 winning percentage (15-2), and the Highlanders won the league championship.

In 1911, Mayer played for the Albany Babies of the South Atlantic League where he won 14 games and lost 13. In 1912, Mayer joined the Portsmouth Pirates of the Virginia League. While with Portsmouth, Mayer won 26 games and lost just 9.

Major league career

On September 4, 1912, Mayer made his major league debut as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies in their game against the New York Giants. Mayer appeared in seven games that season, starting one and losing his only decision of the year.

Mayer spent his first full season in the major leagues in 1913. Unfortunately, Mayer's pitching was marked by a dubious moment. In the ninth inning of the Phillies August 18 game against the Chicago Cubs, Mayer set the Major League Baseball record for consecutive hits allowed (9). It was a record that remained unmatched for less than 24-hours as teammate Grover Cleveland Alexander repeated the feat the very next day.[3][4]

1914 was the first of Mayer's back-to-back 20 win seasons. That year, Honus Wagner became the second member of the 3000 hit club when he hit a double off Mayer. Wagner is the only person to get his 3,000th career hit off a pitcher who won 20 games that same season.[5]

In 1915 was a successful year both for Mayer and for the Phillies. Mayer recorded 21 wins, 20 complete games and a 2.36 earned run average. Meanwhile, the Phillies won their first ever National League pennant with a 90-win season. Unfortunately for Mayer, the Phillies lost the 1915 World Series to the Boston Red Sox. Mayer started two games in that Series, and lost in his only decision. Mayer's first start came in Game 2. Woodrow Wilson, then President of the United States, attended the game. It was the first time a United States President attended a World Series game.[6]

1916 Mayer won seven games, but lost seven as well. 1917 was a better year for him. Mayer won 11 games against only six loses and had a 2.76 earned run average. In 1918, Mayer won seven games in 13 appearances for the Phillies. However, he was traded to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Elmer Jacobs in July, 1918. In fifteen appearances for the Pirates, Mayer went 9-3 with a 2.26 earned run average. He finished with a combined record of 16-7 with a 2.65 earned run average and 18 complete games. with the Pirates.

Mayer started the 1919 season with the Pirates; however, in August of that year, the Chicago White Sox selected him off waivers. In exchange, the Pirates received $2,500.

In August 1919 he was selected off waivers by the Chicago White Sox from the Pittsburgh Pirates for $2,500. Mayer appeared in six regular season games for the White Sox and also pitched one inning in game 5 of the 1919 World Series. It was the final appearance of his major league career. When he retired after the season, he had won 91 games with a 2.96 earned run average.

In 1920, played in one game for the minor league Atlanta Crackers of the Southern Association.[1] He retired shortly thereafter. Three-years later, in 1923, he briefly served as an umpire in the South Georgia League.[1]

Post professional life

After retiring from professional sports, Mayer moved to Los Angeles, California. While there, he opened a cigar store. On March 10, 1957, he died of a heart attack. He was buried in Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in nearby Glendale, California.[1].

References and notes

  1. ^ a b c d e "Erskine Mayer SABR Bio". sabr.org. http://www.bioproj.sabr.org/bioproj.cfm?a=v&v=l&bid=949&pid=9027. Retrieved 2007-06-04.  
  2. ^ "Jews in Sports". jewsinsports.org. http://www.jewsinsports.org/Publication.asp?titleID=1&current_page=23. Retrieved 2007-06-04.  
  3. ^ Although it is difficult to identify the current record holder, the streak has been broken by at least one team - the Pittsburgh Pirates
  4. ^ "1913 in baseball". baseball-almanac.com. http://www.baseball-almanac.com/yearly/yr1913a.shtml. Retrieved 2007-06-04.  
  5. ^ "Wagner's 3,000th hit". baseballhalloffame.org. http://www.baseballhalloffame.org/exhibits/online_exhibits/3000_hit_club/wagner_honus.htm. Retrieved 2007-06-04.  
  6. ^ "Presidential Baseball Time line". baseballhalloffame.org. http://www.baseballhalloffame.org/history/2004/040330.htm. Retrieved 2007-06-04.  

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