"The failure of the 1886 Detroits to win the pennant was not the fault of Lady Baldwin. He won 11 of his first 12 starts; he pitched one 1-hitter, five 2-hitters and five 3-hitters, and had 7 shutouts, which was best in the league. He started 56 games and completed 55, hurled 487[!!] innings and struck out 323 and wound up with a 42-13 (.764) record and an ERA of 2.24."
487 innings! Even from 50 feet that's a lot...
Charles B. Baldwin
Bats Left, Throws Left
Height 5' 11", Weight 160 lb.
Debut September 30, 1884
Final Game June 26, 1890
Born April 8, 1859 in Oramel, NY USA
Died March 7, 1937 in Hastings, MI USA
Charles "Lady" Baldwin pitched six seasons in the majors in the 19th Century and, aside from one record-breaking year, had a relatively unspectacular career.
Baldwin began playing in the minors in 1883 and by the next season had reached the big leagues with the Milwaukee Brewers of the Union Association. The circuit folded after one season, and he moved on to the Detroit Wolverines of the National League. After winning 11 in 1885, he had a career year in 1886, going 42-13 and setting the record for the most wins in a season by a left-hander, which still stands today. That year, he led the NL in wins and strikeouts (323) as his clubs finished in second place. During the course of the season, he threw 7 shutouts, a one-hitter, 5 two-hitters, and 5 three-hitters.
The next season, Baldwin fell to just 13 wins (Charlie Getzein led the team with 29) and, after struggling in midseason due to fatigue, was sent home for a while. Nonetheless, the Wolverines won the NL title that year. In that year's World Series, he went 4-1 in 5 starts and held the St. Louis Browns to a .155 batting average.
Baldwin played in just 6 big league games in 1888. He was back in the majors in 1890, splitting his time between the Brooklyn Bridegrooms of the NL and the Buffalo Bisons of the Players League.
Baldwin hit .231 lifetime. In 1886, when he won the 42 games, he also added 25 RBI. He got his nickname because he didn't smoke, drink, or curse. After baseball, he operated a farm and then a real estate business.
NL Wins Leader (1886)
NL Strikeouts Leader (1886)
NL Shutouts Leader (1886)
20 Wins Seasons: 1 (1886)
30 Wins Seasons: 1 (1886)
40 Wins Seasons: 1 (1886)
200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 2 (1886 & 1887)
300 Innings Pitched Seasons: 1 (1886)
400 Innings Pitched Seasons: 1 (1886)
200 Strikeouts Seasons: 1 (1886)
300 Strikeouts Seasons: 1 (1886)
The Wolverines and Lady Baldwin
[b]The baseball life of Charles Baldwin is a tale of two seasons and a curious nickname.
With a modest record of 73-41 in six major league seasons (three that were mere cups of coffee), the left-handed Baldwin probably would not merit inclusion here [in the book] were it not for his remarkable year with Detroit (NL) in 1886 and his feat of winning 4 games in the post-season series between Detroit and the St. Louis Browns in 1887. And then there was his nickname, "Lady".
Baldwin was born in Oramel, N.Y., a tiny hamlet about 60 miles southeast of Buffalo. When he was 18, his family moved to Hastings, Michigan, where he learned the rudiments of the game. He started professionally with Grand Rapids (Northwest League) in 1883 before joining Milwaukee of the same circuit the next season. In 1884, he also appeared in seven games with Milwaukee in the ill-fated Union Association. He was a mature 26 when midway through the 1885 season he joined the Detroit Wolverines (NL) and teamed up with Charlie Bennett, who was one of the greatest catchers of the day. Baldwin's 1885 record was an unprepossessing 11-9, but his ERA was a dazzling 1.86.
The failure of the 1886 Detroits to win the pennant was not the fault of Lady Baldwin. He won 11 of his first 12 starts; he pitched one 1-hitter, five 2-hitters and five 3-hitters, and had 7 shutouts, which was best in the league. He started 56 games and completed 55, hurled 487[!!] innings and struck out 323 and wound up with a 42-13 (.764) record and an ERA of 2.24.
The Wolverines followed their second place finish in 1886 with a pennant in 1887, but it was a bittersweet year for Baldwin. His arm, overworked in 1886, never was at full strength. Additionally, he had trouble adjusting to the new rule requiring the pitcher to keep one foot on the back line of the box and take only one step in delivering the ball [note: distance to plate was 50 feet prior to 1893 and pitchers pitched from a box area rather than a slab]. He was so bad that on July 27 he was sent home without pay, (His salary was a princely $ 3,200 [pretty darn good for the era]). Baldwin improved after rejoining the team in August, winning 7 of his last 8 games.
In the 15 game challenge series between Detroit and the St. Louis Browns (AA), precursor to the World Series, Baldwin won 4 of 5 starts, including the clinching game, and held the Browns to a feeble .155 batting mark.
As far as major league stardom is concerned, that was it for Baldwin. His arm dead, he pitched a few games for Detroit in 1888 and for Brooklyn (NL) and Buffalo (Players League) in 1890 before retiring.
The nickname? The mystery is not how he acquired it, but how he managed to survive in base ball as long as he did while bearing such a handle. He earned the name not because he was effeminate, but because he behaved the way ladies were supposed to behave: he did not smoke, swear, or imbibe. In an interview he gave in 1934 when he was 74, he said he had yet to taste alcohol or tobacco.
After retiring from the diamond, Baldwin operated a farm in Hastings, Michigan, until 1910 when he sold out and moved into town. In 1919, he started a real estate business at which he enjoyed great success. In 1937, the man they called Lady died in Hastings. He was 77.
He also pitched in two games for Grand Rapids in 1894.
Blog entry from 2003:
11-12-2003, 01:46 PM
I'm already on record for Baldwin. I'll make the longer case here.
Lady Baldwin (other non-drinkers got called "Deacon." He got "Lady?") had his only good year in 1886. Charles Baldwin was 42-13 in 56 starts with 55 CG and 7 shutouts. He threw 487.0 innings, allowing 371 hits and 194 runs, 121 earned. He gave up 11 home runs and 100 walks, striking out 323. His ERA was 2.24 against a league ERA of 3.29, for an ERA+ of 147.
John Clarkson had a fine year in 1886 in the middle of a fine career. Clarkson was 36-17 in 55 starts, 50 CG and 3 shutouts. In 466.7 innings he gave up 419 hits and 248 runs, 125 earned. He surrendered 20 home runs and 86 walks while striking out 313. He posted a 2.41 ERA against the league average (park-adjusted) of 3.62, for an ERA+ of 150.
It's close. But Clarkson gave up a lot of unearned runs, which you can interpret several ways. Clarkson also pitched in a tougher park. But I thought Baldwin had a better year.
Baldwin had a WARP3 score of 9.9, Clarkson was 4.0. Clarkson had better years, such as 1885 and 1889. I think it was Baldwin for the, err, "Al Spalding Award."