James Francis "Pud" Galvin (1856-1902), baseball's first 300-game winner and earliest known juicer
Known as "Pud" because his blazing fastball was said to turn batters into pudding, portly James Galvin was one of baseball's first pitching aces. Also nicknamed "The Little Steam Engine" for his short stature and amazing durability, Galvin completed 94% of his starts, and in an age of two-man pitching rotations was able to rack up 6,003 innings pitched and 646 complete games in his 14-year career. Both marks are still second only to Cy Young in baseball history.
Born in St. Louis, Galvin had a brief cup of coffee with the St. Louis Browns in 1875 before making it to the major leagues for good with the Buffalo Bisons of the National League.
Galvin's greatest season, and indeed one of the greatest seasons in baseball history, came in 1884, when Pud started 72 games, completed 71, hurled 636 innings, tossed 12 shutouts, and struck out 396 batters en route to a 46-22 record and a 1.99 ERA. While Galvin certainly benefitted from the different standards of an era when pitchers threw much more often, his numbers were still amazing even by the standards of the day.
In 1885, Galvin was purchased from the Bisons by the Pittsburgh Alleghenys of the American Association, the team which later joined the NL as the Pittsburgh Pirates in 1887. Galvin continued to be an ace for the Pittsburgh team, winning at least 20 games in a season four more times to bring his career total to 10 seasons with at least that many victories.
In 1890, Galvin jumped to the Pittsburgh Burghers of the upstart Players' League before returning to the Pirates the following year after the league collapsed. With his once fearsome fastball in decline, Galvin was released by Pittsburgh in 1892, and finished up the season and his career with his hometown St. Louis Browns.
Among Galvin's numerous accomplishments, he was baseball's first ever 300-game winner, and was the first pitcher to throw a no-hitter on the road (against the Worcester Worcesters, in 1880). In 1890, Galvin faced off against Tim Keefe in the first ever battle between 300-game winners. There would be three more such confrontations with Keefe, and their last matchup, in 1892, was to be the final contest between 300-game winners until nearly a century later, when Don Sutton faced Phil Niekro in 1986.
Galvin was also one of the earliest players known to take performance enhancing drugs, when he injected himself with the "Famous Elixir of Brown-Sequard," aka "Liquor Spermaticus," which was basically testosterone drawn from the testicles of monkeys. Of course, back in those days nobody frowned upon the usage of such performance enhancers, and indeed the Washington Post praised Galvin for it:
If there still be doubting Thomases who concede no virtue of the Elixir, they are respectfully referred to Galvin's record in yesterday's Boston-Pittsburgh game. It is the best proof yet furnished of the value of the discovery.
Galvin died penniless in Pittsburgh in 1902, so poor that his funeral had to be paid for by donations from fans. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veterans Committee in 1965.
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