Leon Kessling Ames was born on August 2nd, 1882 in Warren Ohio. The five foot ten, right handed pitcher became a member of John McGraw’s New York Giants in 1903 at the age of 23.
He made his debut on September 14th, 1903 & pitched a five inning no hitter against the St. Louis Cardinals. He made one more appearance that year & threw a five hit complete game victory.
By 1905, he became a starter, winning 22 games (22-8) for the World Champion Giants on an incredibly talented pitching staff. The staff was made up of; Ames, Christy Mathewson (31 wins) Iron Joe McGinnity (21 wins) Dummy Taylor (16 wins) & Hooks Wilste (15 wins). The Giants drew over a half a million fans, by far most in the league & won 105 games.
Ames had his best season that year, third in the NL in wins, posting a 2.74 ERA, striking out 198 batters (2nd in the NL) in 262 innings pitched. He posted the best strike outs per nine innings ratio in the league & would do so for three straight years. His biggest downfall was his wildness.
He threw an erratic curve ball, described in the day as dramatic. His curve would fool hitters at times, but also had him throw a modern day record; thirty wild pitches that season. He also walked 105 batters (5th most in the league).
Post Season: He pitched just one inning of relief in the 1905 World Series against the Philadelphia Athletics; it came in the Giants only loss as he finished out the 9th inning. This was the famous Series where Christy Mathewson performed the greatest pitching feat in history, tossing three World Series shut outs in the same week.
Ames would put up double figures in win for twelve seasons, winning 15 games twice but never matching his twenty win season. He fell to 12-10 in 1906 & two seasons later posted 15 wins (15-10). He was seeing action as both a starter & a reliever in the next few years as well.
On Opening Day in 1909, he pitched a no hitter for nine innings, but lost the game in the 13th inning.
He would get to two more World Series with the Giants, losing to the same Philadelphia A’s in 1911 & Boston Red Sox in 1912.
In 1911 the Giants won another pennant, Ames went 11-10 with a 2.68 ERA, pitching behind Mathewson, Wilste & Rube Marquard; who was the Giants latest pitching star. In the 1911 World Series against the Philadelphia Athletics, he made relief appearance in Game Five & then a start in Game Six, taking a loss to Chief Bender.
In 1912 he had a fine year going 11-5 with two saves as the Giants repeated as NL Champions. Ames made just one relief appearance in the Giants Game #4 loss.
In 1913 he was involved in a big trade at the time, getting traded to the Cincinnati Reds along with Heinie Groh & Josh Devore in exchange for Art Fromme. He went from the best team to the worst, as the reds would finish seventh & then last. He had a busy year in 1917, winning 15 games & leading the league in saves (6) but also led in losses with 23.
In 1915 he was purchased by the St. Louis Cardinals & would pitch there for parts of five seasons, before ending his career in Philadelphia.
In his long 17 year career, was 183-167 with 36 saves & a 2.63 ERA (62nd all time). He struck out 1702 batters in 3198 innings pitched (104th all time) giving him an average of 4.3 strike outs per nine innings (8th best all time). Ames walked 1034 (99th all time) with 156 wild pitches (30th all time) in 282 games making 212 starts.
Retirement: After the majors he played in the minors for two years & managed the Daytona Islanders in 1923.