Joe McGinnity teamed with Christy Mathewson to form one of baseball's best pitching duos
Joe McGinnity loved baseball. He started playing America’s game in his youth in the 1880s, began playing professionally in 1893, and got paid to pitch until after his 54th birthday. He debuted in the majors in 1899 with the National League’s Baltimore Orioles managed by John McGraw. Ther
Nicknamed “Ironman” he threw at least 300 innings in all but the last of his MLB seasons. In six of his ten campaigns he pitched at least 350 frames, topping the 400-inning mark twice.
McGinnity joined the Giants and Christy Mathewson in 1902 to form one of the greatest one-two punches the game’s history. Each season from ’02 until he retired in ’08, either McGinnity or Mathewson led the league in wins. Each pitcher held the top spot three seasons apiece.
In 1903, McGinnity tossed a career-high 434 innings to lead the NL. His 31 wins and 44 complete games also paced the Senior Circuit. Among 20th-century pitchers, the Ironman’s single-season WAR of 12.2 is surpassed only by Walter Johnson and Cy Young.
The following campaign McGinnity went 35-8, posting career-high and league-leading totals in wins, ERA (1.61), shutouts (9), and saves (5). In 1905 he topped the 20-win plateau for the 7th consecutive season. In World Series that year he threw 17 innings without giving up an earned run to help McGraw’s club win it all.
After his release from the Giants in 1908, McGinnity continued to pitch in the minors through the 1925 season. When he finally put the ball down, the Ironman’s professional win total stood at 478 games.
McGinnity passed away in 1929 four years after leaving the playing field. His signature remains elusive for even the most advanced autograph collectors.