Baseball’s First “Babe” Was Pittsburgh Pirates Pitcher Adams

Baseball’s first “Babe” wasn’t Ruth but rather Charles Benjamin Adams, a Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher who won three 1909 World Series games as a 27-year-old rookie.

According to baseball historians, Adams acquired his nickname because of his popularity with female fans. During a 1907 minor league stint in Louisville, more than five years before Ruth debuted with the Boston Red Sox, women cried out “Oh you babe” whenever Adams took the mound.

Adams was one of the best control pitchers ever. His record low of 1.29 walks per nine innings during his 19 major league years ranks second on the modern day list behind only teammate Deacon Phillippe’s 1.25 mark. On his stingiest day, July 17, 1914, against the New York Giants and its ace Rube Marquard, Adams pitched 21 innings, walked none but still lost a 3-1 decision.

In his first season, Adams pitched mostly in relief and led the Pirates to the National League pennant by tossing 130 innings and compiling a 12-3 record with a microscopic 1.11 ERA, a rookie record that still stands.

Adams followed up his 1909 brilliance with an 18-9 season in 1910 and back-to-back 20-win seasons in 1911 and 1912 to establish himself as one of the baseballs best pitchers.

In the 1909 World Series, Adams fired three consecutive, complete game 6-hitters to shut down the Detroit Tigers in games one, five and seven. As evidence of his dominance Adams held Ty Cobb, a .366 lifetime hitter, to lone single in his eleven plate appearances.

Adams stuck around baseball long enough to throw a single shut out inning in the 1925 World Series at age 43 against the Washington Senators.

During his career, all but a single game of it with the Pirates, Adams logged a 194-140 record with a 2.76 ERA.

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