When Christy Mathewson pitched in Medina

By Mike Wertman, Sports Writer Posted 6 May 2020 at 11:54 am

Contributed Photo – Christy Mathewson

Many no doubt know that Babe Ruth played an exhibition baseball game at Medina’s Oak Orchard Park (now Veterans Memorial Park) in October of 1920 during which he hit one of his famous home runs.

However, probably not too many know that a decade earlier another baseball Hall of Famer, Christy Mathewson, pitched in Medina.

And that appearance was truly an unusual one as Mathewson’s pitching performance was in an  indoor baseball exibition game at the Pearl Street Armory (now the home of the Orleans County YMCA) on January 14, 1910.

Mathewson was the star player on New York Giants manager Hall of Famer John McGraw’s barnstorming team of major leaguers which faced off against a Medina squad.

The free scoring indoor baseball contest (a popular sport of that era) saw the Giants win 22-19 out hitting the local squad 28-13.

The Medina Daily Journal’s January 15 1910 report of the game gave Mathewson’s efforts mixed reviews. It stated “Mathewson is a fine big boy, draws a good salary for appearing, gets a fine hand from the crowds and then proceeds to enjoy the game as a real player should – kicks on most everything, makes a few safe hits and keeps himself general conspicuous. Christy is a good ball player, but at the indoor game, he’s rather tame. However, the crowd saw him in action, liked his boyish ways and went home satisfied with the entertainment.”

The report also highlights a Medina rally at the plate against Mathewson early in the game which gave the locals their only lead.  It notes “For two innings the visitors made a few safe wallops, and aided by many errors, they corralled seven tallies. Meanwhile, they held the locals to two runs. Then our side went after Mathewson the Great. They took kindly to his offerings and passed them around indiscriminately among the crowd, and when the slaughter was over we led, eight to seven. This was the only time we were in the front of the parade.”

Matthewson was coming off a 1909 major league season in which he posted a 25-6 record on the mound for the Giants. The upcoming 1910 season would see him go 27-9. During his 17 year major league career (1900-1916) he compiled a record of 373-188  with 2507 strikeouts and an earned run average of 2.13. He registered three shutouts in the 1905 World Series leading the Giants to the title.

The Journal’s January 13, 1910 story leading up to the game stated  that “it is expected that fully 1200 people will be there for the contest.

The article also lists the names of the Medina players on the team including “Con” Bradley at pitcher, Cleary or Bacon at catcher, Reil at first, Eddie Collins at second ,”Crab” Mpontgomery at shortstop and Boyle at third with Tillman, H. Montgomery, Haingrey or Cleary in the outfield.