Here’s the first “Hall of Fame Inductee” card for the 1978 set, one portraying tragic figure Addie Joss, who was finally given his due in Cooperstown decades too late:
Joss spent nine years pitching like few others before or after, all with the Cleveland Naps (Indians) between 1902 and 1910.
Of those nine years, the highest his earned run average he ever posted in a season was 2.77, which was his rookie year.
After that, he’d go on to post five seasons of sub-2.00 ERA, with a low
of 1.16 in 1908 when he posted a 24-11 record with nine shutouts and 130
strikeouts over 42 games and 325 innings pitched.
In his eight-years of full play he’d have four 20-win seasons, with a
high of 27 in 1907, five sub-2.00 ERA seasons, and five seasons of five
or more shutouts, posting nine twice (1906 and 1908).
In 1908 in the middle of a heated pennant race, Joss went on to pitch
the fourth perfect game in league history when he blanked the Chicago
White Sox (and pitcher Ed Walsh) 1-0.
Walsh would give up only 4 hits while striking out 15, and the game is
considered by many to be one of the all-time best in baseball’s long
It’s worth noting that Addie Joss was robbed of a no-hitter in his very
first start as a Major League pitcher in 1902 against the St. Louis
Browns when he ended up with a one-hit shutout, the lone hit coming off
the bat of future Hall of Famer Jesse Burkett.
Witnesses to the event swear that the hit was actually caught on the fly
by outfielder Zaza Harvey, though it was ruled trapped by umpire Bob
Caruthers (a former pitcher who should ALSO be in Cooperstown!).
Sadly, after experiencing an injury-plagued 1910 season that saw Joss go
5-5 with a 2.26 ERA over 13 games, he became ill in April of 1911 and
died of tuberculous meningitis just three days later.
Joss was very well-liked by his peers, and technically the very first
“all-star game” was played as a benefit game for the Joss family on July
24th of 1911.
The Cleveland team invited players from the rest of the American League
to play against them, with proceeds going to help the Joss family after
their loss, raising $13,000 ($330,154 in today’s money).
Falling of short of baseball 10-year minimum of a career for Hall of
Fame consideration, a special preclusion was made for Joss, allowing the
Veteran’s Committee to finally get in, even if it was decades later.
Joss finished his career with a 160-97 record with a 1.89 earned run
average (second only to Ed Walsh), with 45 shutouts and 920 strikeouts
over 286 games and 2327 innings pitched.
Who knows what he may have accomplished had not illness struck him down at such a young age.