Christy Mathewson, December 14, 1910 A brick at the Saranac Laboratory has been dedicated in the name of Christy Mathewson by Rich Loeber. Born: August 12, 1880, Factoryville, Pennsylvania

Died: October 7, 1925, Saranac Lake, New York

Married: Jane Stoughton

Children: Christy Mathewson, Jr.

Nicknames: "Big Six", "The Christian Gentleman", "Matty"

Playing primarily for the New York Giants, Christy Mathewson was one of the greatest baseball pitchers of all time, winning thirty or more games in the regular season four times, throwing three shutouts over a period of six days against Philadelphia during the 1905 world series. In 1913, he pitched 68 consecutive innings without walking a man. In five seasons, his earned run average was under 2.0; in 1909 it was 1.14. In eleven World Series Games, he had an ERA of 1.15, and completed ten games, two in extra innings. He completed 434 of 551 games started over seventeen seasons. He struck out 434 batters and won 373 games. He still leads the National League in total games won and is tied for third place for all of baseball. He was one of the famous "First Five" baseball players inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame when it was first established in 1936.

Christy Mathewson, Jr., late 1940s. Adirondack Daily Enterprise, August 3, 2002

He served in France as a Captain in the chemical warfare division during World War I. In June, 1920, he was diagnosed with TB. He moved to Saranac Lake by July 1, 1920, living first in the Santanoni Apartments, under the care of Dr. Edward N. Packard. He improved slowly. His former teammates held a double-header to help pay his expenses; at the game, a baseball autographed by Babe Ruth, President Warren Harding, Vice President Calvin Coolidge and Mathewson was auctioned off. By June, 1922, he had improved to the point that he threw the first pitch of the season opener between Saranac Lake and Plattsburgh. By December, he seemed to be nearly cured, and the following year, he became part owner of the Boston Braves. He also did charity work for the effort to cure tuberculosis and to aid its victims.

Meanwhile, Christy Jr. had graduated from Saranac Lake High School with honors in 1923; later he attended Bucknell University. It was late in 1924 that the Mathewsons moved into the house that would be known ever after as the Christy Mathewson Cottage. Matty was involved in a car accident driving between Saranac Lake and Lake Placid in July, 1924, in which his arm was injured. By the end of the year, his health had deteriorated, but he didn't lessen his workload. Then in April 1925, he caught a cold during Spring training in the south with the Braves, and the cold didn't go away. He returned to Saranac Lake, and bed rest, but on October 7, 1925, he died. The baseball world was stunned.

His wife remained in the house on Park Avenue until the early 1950s, when she returned to her hometown in Pennsylvania.

Along with Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, and Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson was one of the first five inductees in the Baseball Hall of Fame, founded in 1936.

Christy Mathewson baseball card, 1911. Library of Congress Collection.Christy Mathewson baseball card, 1911 [reverse]. Library of Congress Collection.

 

Sources

  • Gallos, Philip L., Cure Cottages of Saranac Lake, Historic Saranac Lake, 1985, pp. 119-123. ISBN 0-9615159-0-2
  • The Washington Post (1877-1922);Oct 1, 1921; ProQuest Historical Newspapers: The Washington Post, pg. 16