Big Ed Reulbach Leads ’08 Cubs to the Pennant; Shuts Down Brooklyn Twice

Here’s the latest guest post from Joe Guzzardi, a regular contributor here. Every Saturday for the past few months, Joe has been offering “Double the fun,” looking at one memorable doubleheader each week. This will be the final edition of the column until next baseball season.

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Pitch count fanatics take note.

On September 26, 1908 the Chicago Cubs’ “Big” Ed Reulbach pitched two complete game shut outs, allowing only eight hits, in both ends of a double header against the arch rival Brooklyn Supurbas. Reulbach prevailed 5-0 and 3-0. The nightcap took 1:12.

For good measure, Reulbach followed up with a 6-0 October 1 shut out at Cincinnati before ending his season with another win over the Reds on October 3, 16-2.

The Cubs along with the Pittsburgh Pirates and New York Giants were locked in a tight pennant race. With the Chicago pitching staff worn out, Reulbach stepped up to help the Cubs finish first and go on to its last winning World Series appearance by knocking off the Detroit Tigers, 4-1.

By the time the Cubs got to the series, Reulbach was worn out, too. The Tigers knocked him out in the seventh inning of the first game which the Cubs eventually won in a 10-6 slugfest. In game three, Reulbach pitched one scoreless inning in relief in the Cubs only loss, 8-3.

Cut from the same cloth as Christy Mathewson, Reulbach was an outstanding dead ball era hurler on the field. Off it, like Mathewson, Reulbach promoted clean living and followed his own advice.

Although he never received a single Hall of Fame vote, Reulbach’s career statistics are imposing. Over Reulbach’s 13-year career, he posted a 182-106 record with a 2.28 ERA

Reulbach hurled two one-hitters, six two-hitters, and 13 three-hitters. In 1906, his best year (24-7; 2.03), Reulbach yielded 5.33 hits per nine innings, still the third-lowest ratio of all time. Reulbach also gave up fewer hits than innings pitched in each of his 13 seasons.

Reulbach’s post-baseball years were a mix of professional success and personal tragedy. Reulbach earned a Columbia University law degree and became one of the founding directors of the Baseball Fraternity, the forerunner of the Player’s Union. In 1945, Reulbach copyrighted the “Leadership Development Plan” that rotated a team’s captain among all nine players, one inning at a time, to encourage team effort.

According to Cubs’ teammate Johnny Evers, Reulbach was always “five years ahead of his time in baseball thought.”

In 1976, 14 years after Reulbach’s death, Esquire Magazine published baseball writer Harry Stein’s “All Time, All Star Argument Starter” that consisted of five ethnic teams. Stein named Reulbach the Jewish right handed starting pitcher.

Unfortunately for Stein and in what serves as a glowing example to journalists everywhere to research carefully and completely, Reulbach was not Jewish but a Roman Catholic who pitched at University of Notre Dame and is buried in Immaculate Conception Cemetery.

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Joe Guzzardi belongs to the Society for American Baseball Research, as well as the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America. Email him at guzzjoe@yahoo.com

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