- OF, P, 2B, 1B
- Wabash George
- July 4, 1880
- 5' 11"
- 188 lbs
- Major League Debut:
- 5-04-1902 with DET
"Wabash George" Mullin was the first pitcher to throw a no-hit game for the Detroit Tigers, the first to win a World Series game, and a five-time twenty-game winner. In 1909, the right-hander ran off an 11-game winning streak early in the season to lead Detroit to their third straight pennant. That was his best season, as he won 29 games in the regular season and two more in the World Series against the Pirates. Mullin won 228 games in his 14-year career, helping himself with the bat, hitting .262 with good power.
Mullin holds the Detroit Tigers franchise record for innings pitched (in a career and in a season) and has the second most wins in the team's history. He also pitched the team's first no-hitter; had five 20-win seasons (including a league-leading 29 wins in 1909); helped the Tigers to three straight American League pennants (1907–1909); twice hit over .310 as a batter; and ranks 7th in major league history for fielding assists by a pitcher. Yet, as one author noted: "The pitching prowess and significant achievements of George Mullin seem to have faded away on the brittle pages of baseball history. Not even in the Motor City ... is the name of George Mullin, the burly right-hander from Wabash, Indiana, mentioned." (Warren Wilbert, "What Makes an Elite Pitcher?" (McFarland 2003), p. 25)
Mullin was a powerfully built right-hander with an intimidating fastball, but imperfect control. He was known to try to keep opposing batters off balance by talking to them when they came to bat, or even talking to himself. (George Van Dusen, Dan Ewald, Jim Hawkins, "The Detroit Tigers Encyclopedia" (2003), p. 169) And with a runner on third base at Bennett Park, Mullin was known to fake a throw over the head of catcher Boss Schmidt. Schmidt would then fake an attempt to run after the "errant" pitch, luring the runner toward the plate. Mullin would then toss the ball to Schmidt for an easy out.
He compiled a career record of 228-196, ranking 65th in wins in major league history.
Born in Toledo, Ohio, Mullin played semi-pro baseball in Wabash, Indiana, earning the nickname "Wabash George." In 1901, at age 20, Mullin signed with both the Brooklyn Superbas and Detroit Tigers. Mullin chose the Tigers, wishing to stay closer to his home in Indiana. Mullin played his first twelve seasons with the Tigers.
In his rookie season, 1902, Mullin won 13 games (and lost 16) for the 7th place Tigers. The following season, Mullin won 19 and reduced his ERA to 2.25 (an Adjusted ERA+ of 129). In 1903, Mullin was among the American League leaders with 6 shutouts (2nd in AL), 170 strikeouts (5th in AL), and 41 games (2nd in AL).
In 1904, Mullin had another strong year, pitching a club record 42 complete games (and 7 shutouts) with a 2.40 ERA and 161 strikeouts. However, the Tigers in the pre-Cobb era were a weak-hitting team that remained mired in 7th place, and Mullin lost 23 games despite a strong individual performance.
In 1905, Mullin won 21 games for his first 20-win season but also lost 21 games. He started in a career-high 44 games and pitched in a club record 382-1/3 innings. He continued to remain below the league average with an ERA of 2.51.
The Tigers finished in 6th place in 1906, but Mullin had another strong year with a record of 21-18 and 35 complete games.
Mullin's Workhorse Abilities
Mullin had remarkable stamina as a pitcher. He started 428 games and had 353 complete game—25th highest total in major league history. He was among the American League leaders in complete games nine straight years (1903–1911) and innings pitched for eight straight years (1903–1910). His career highs were 42 complete games (1904) and 382⅓ innings (1905), both Tigers team records.
To this day, Mullin is the Tigers' all-time innings pitched leader, both in a career (3394) and in a season (382⅓).
An Intimidating Fastball with Control Problems
Mullin was a powerfully built pitcher with an intimidating fastball, perhaps even more so due to his imperfect control. He hit batsmen 131 times in his career—the 19th highest total in major league history. He also threw 85 wild pitches and gave up 1238 bases on balls—45th most in major league history. He led the league in walks allowed four times (1903–1906), including a career high 138 in 1905, and was among the league leaders in walks allowed 11 times.
The American League Pennants: 1907-1909
In 1907, the Tigers added Hughie Jennings as manager, and with the bats of Ty Cobb and Sam Crawford, the team finally had the winning combination, as they won three straight American League pennants from 1907-1909. During the Tigers' pennant years, Mullin won 66 games and pitched 105 complete games and more than 950 innings.
Mullin's best season was 1909, when he started the season with a one-hitter on Opening Day and then recorded eleven consecutive wins. He did not lose a game until June 15, 1909, and went on to lead the American League in both wins (29) and win percentage (.784).
Six Complete Games in the World Series
Mullin started 6 World Series games for the 1907-09 Tigers. He went the distance, pitching complete games, in all 6 World Series Games he started. He gave up only 12 earned runs in 58 innings, for a lifetime ERA of 1.86 in World Series play.
Despite strong pitching from Mullin, the Tigers lost each of the World Series they played in from 1907-1909. He had a 2.12 ERA in the 1907 World Series, but the Detroit bats went cold, and Mullin lost both games he started. Mullin holds the distinction of being the only pitcher in World Series history to lose 20 games during the regular season, and still appear in the World Series. Mullin posted a 20-20 record in the '07 season. In the 1908 Series, Mullin pitched a complete game shutout for a win. And in the 1909 World Series, Mullin won two games, including a 5-hit, 10-strikeout complete game shutout in Game 4 against Honus Wagner's Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Cuban Tour of 1909
In November 1909, a group of Detroit Tigers players toured Cuba and played 12 exhibition games against two integrated Cuban teams, Habana and Almendares. Mullin was among the Tigers players who toured Cuba. The tour drew wide attention in Cuba, where baseball was already very popular. Demonstrating the high level of play in Cuba, the Tigers lost 8 of the 12 games to the integrated Cuban baseball teams. On November 27, 1909, Mullin shut out the Cuban Almendares team in a 4-0 victory for the touring Tigers.
One of the All Time Assists Leaders
An all around athlete, Mullin had great range and ability to get to the ball. He contributed 1244 assists as a pitcher, the 7th highest total of any pitcher in major league history, behind legends such as Cy Young, Christy Mathewson, Grover Cleveland Alexander, and Walter Johnson. His career record of 2.56 assists per game also ranks 7th in major league history for pitchers. He had a career-high 163 assists in 1904 and twice led the league in assists by a pitcher.
A Batter Who Once Pinch Hit for Ty Cobb
Mullin also excelled as a batter. He had a career .262 batting average with a .319 on base percentage. He had 96 extra base hits, 122 bases on balls, and 18 stolen bases. Hit hit three doubles in his first major league start and batted .325 in his rookie season. He was such a reliable hitter that he was used 101 times (with 21 hits) as a pinch hitter. (Paul Votano, "Stand and Deliver: A History of Pinch-Hitting" (McFarland 2003), p. 33) On September 18, 1906, Mullin even pinch hit for Ty Cobb. Cobb was slumping and manager Bill Armour summoned Mullin to bat for Cobb in the bottom of the 9th inning. According to the next day's account in the Detroit Free Press, Mullin "hit center field with a triple." (Paul Votano, "Stand and Deliver: A History of Pinch-Hitting" (McFarland 2003), p. 29)
Mullin continued as a winner and a workhorse in 1910 and 1911, with records of 21-12 and 18-10.
On April 20, 1912, Mullin was given the honor of pitching the first game at the new Navin Field, beating the Indians 6-5 in 11 innings. Mullin won his own game with an RBI single.
On May 21, 1912, Mullin shut out the Washington Senators, earning his 200th career win—a 2-0 pitching duel with Walter Johnson.
And on July 4, 1912 (Mullin's 32nd birthday), he pitched the first no-hitter in Detroit Tigers history, as Mullin helped himself with 3 hits and 2 RBIs in the game.
In 1913, Mullin got off to a shaky 1-6 start, and he was sold to the Washington Senators on May 17, 1913. That season he also pitched four games for the Montreal Royals in the International League (records).
In 1914, Mullin jumped to the newly formed Federal League and played for the Indianapolis Hoosiers. He enjoyed a one-year revival pitching for the Hoosiers in his home state of Indiana. His 2.70 ERA was among the Federal League leaders, and he also hit .312 with a .404 on base percentage and 21 RBIs in 77 at bats.
In 1915, the Hoosiers moved east and became the Newark Pepper, and Mullin played in only five games. His last major league game was with the Pepper on May 23, 1915. At least for that season he continued to work in the industry, pitching for Chester, Pennsylvania in the semiprofessional Delaware County League.
Mullin died in 1944 at age 63 in Wabash, Indiana. He was posthumously inducted into the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame in 1962.
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- George Mullin