SJSports Online
High School Baseball

Baseball Leagues

Baseball Links

South Jersey Baseball History:
The Dominant Pitchers

Monday, April 24, 2000

By Charlie Schick
South Jersey Baseball Historical Society

When one looks for the best of the great major league pitchers with the most season victories, they have to go all the way back to the early part of the century. In fact, it was 1904 when New York Yankee Hall of Fame right-hander Jack Chesbro won 41 games to set the all-time major league single season wins mark. Chesbro started 51 games that year, and relieved in 4, as he appeared in a total of 55 games.

Just two years later, two Hall of Famers established themselves on the all-time victory honor roll, when both Ed Walsh (Chicago White Sox) won 40 and Christy Mathewson (New York Giants) captured 37. Walsh took 66 games and 464 innings, an all-time record, to accomplish his 40 wins. Mathewson, on the other hand, appeared in 56 contents on his way to 37 victories and a National League leading 285 strikeouts.

Fourth place on the all-time victory list belongs to the "Big Train" Walter Johnson of the Washington Senators. Hall of Famer Johnson collected 36 winners in 1913, as he had his finest major league season. Johnson also set a record with 55 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings, later topped by the LA Dodgers Orel Hershiser, former Cherry Hill East High star, when he threw 59 scoreless frames in a row in 1988.

Of course, when comparing South Jersey scholastic pitching records with big league numbers, we must keep in mind the number of fewer games played in a high school season. If, however, we triple or even double our local pitchers results, they certainly compare very favorably.

The first major pitching breakthrough in South Jersey happened in 1931 when Olden Stewart of Holy Spirit High became the first area pitcher to rack up 13 wins in a single season. In fact, Stewart's 13-1 record equaled 95 per cent of his team's total games played that year.

It was 31 years later until another South Jersey hurler won 13 games. In 1962, a pony sized chucker Ed Reiger of St. James High, not only equaled Stewart's victory total, but accomplished the feat with a perfect record of 13-0. More amazingly, at one time Reiger won 25 straight games in a row over a two-year period.

Throughout the 1970's and early 1980's, seven more area pitchers achieved the 13 victory club, with South Jersey Baseball Hall of Fame member Rich Carlucci of Audubon High turning the trick twice. Right-hander Carlucci pitched to a 13-2 slate in 1973 and a 13-0 record in 1975, as he helped establish Audubon as a state baseball power.

After South Jersey Hall of Famer Ron Bennett, Pennsville High right-hander, collected 13 victories without a loss in 1981, it took just two years for the 13 game barrier to be broken. A big left-hander from Moorestown High, Mike Havers set the new record when he amassed a 14-2 slate in 1983. Havers' efforts help led Head Coach Russ Spicer's Moorestown squad to the area's #1 ranking and his eventual induction into the South Jersey Baseball Hall of Fame.

The following year, another lefty wrote his name in the record books when he set two landmark pitching accomplishments. Pennsville High's Steve Hirt not only won 15 games, but also did it without losing a contest in 1984. His outstanding mound work help Coach Ed Reiger's, the same 1962 pitcher mentioned above, Pennsville squad to the state Group I title and the #1 ranking in the state of New Jersey.

Hirt's record stood until 1988, until a crafty pint-sized right-hander by the name of Micky McCoy racked up an amazing 16-2 season for St. James High. McCoy posted 120 innings of pitching in setting his South Jersey all-time record. One that will probably stand for a long time to come because of the restrictions place on today's pitchers under the NJSIAA's new high school pitching regulations.

Click here for more articles about South Jersey Baseball History

©2000 South Jersey Sports Online