Feb 25, 2016

The Wild Story Of the Heavy Drinking New York Giants Pitcher: Bugs Raymond (1908-1910)

Arthur Lawrence "Bugs" Raymond was born on February 24, 1882 in Chicago, Illinois. The five foot ten, right hander supposedly got his nickname due to his antics on & off the field. Raymond pitched in pro ball in 1904, making a brief debut with the Detroit Tigers, pitching five games going 0-1. 



He went back to the minor leagues, and began throwing a spitball which was legal at the time. All of a sudden he won 35 games (35-11) for Charleston in the South Atlantic League in 1907. The St. Louis Cardinals bought his contract & he was back in the majors that season. In St. Louis he was the last place Cardinals top pitcher in 1908, winning 15 games on a team that only won 49 games in total. He struck out 145 batters (fourth in the NL), posted a 2.03 ERA (10th in the NL) but led the league in losses (25) and wild pitches (9). 

On average Raymond gave up fewer hits per games than the great Christy Mathewson did in New York with the Giants. Bugs threw five shutouts of his own, but in eleven of his starts the Cardinals were shut out as well. 

Raymond’s biggest problem was his heavy drinking which of course led to his wild antics. In December of 1908 the Cards gave up on him & traded him to the New York Giants with two other players for pioneer catcher; Roger Bresnahan. At first New York Manager John McGraw seemed to able to keep Raymond under control. 

In 1909 he then went & had his overall best season. Raymond won 18 games (18-12) with a 2.47 ERA pitching 270 innings and struck out 121 batters (9th in the NL) he also posted the tenth best strike out per nine inning ratio. He made 39 starts (5th in the NL) but also served up seven HRs (7th in the NL) 87 walks (9th in the NL) 239 hits, committing nine errors (second most in the NL). 

McGraw controlled his drinking only for a short time, soon Raymond was off the wagon & out of control once again. McGraw tried to fine him, so he wouldn’t have any money to buy liquor but that didn’t work. He would then send the money to Raymond's wife, but when Bugs found out he threatened to stop pitching saying "If she's getting my money, let her pitch." McGraw hired a private detective just to follow Raymond around to keep him in line, but that didn’t work either. Christy Mathewson once said, "after a night out, don't get too close to Bugs, his breath will stop a freight train". 

In 1910 Raymond dropped to a 4-11 record, pitching in just 19 games posting a 3.81 ERA. One old Giants Tale is that during a June game, when McGraw told Raymond to start warming up, he snuck over to a local saloon & traded a game ball for two shots of whiskey. When he was called into the 3-2 game, he hit two batters threw a wild pitch & gave up a pair of hits. McGraw was so pissed off he suspended him indefinitely. During another game he asked to be removed, even though he had pitched a scoreless one hit game through five innings. He told reporters he ate a strawberry sundae before the game & was suffering from a serious stomach ache. " 

Quotes: Team mate Fred Snodgrass once said: "When he was sober, and sometimes when he wasn't, he was the greatest spitball pitcher who ever lived." The great Giants pitcher Rube Marquard said "Sometimes it seemed the more he drank, the better he pitched. They used to say he didn't spit on the ball, he just breathed on it and the ball came up drunk, too." 

The next year he went 6-4 in 17 games, but was released mid season he kept showing up late and/ or drunk. McGraw had enough & he moved on as the Giants went on to win the 1911 pennant. Raymond hung his uniform in a saloon near the Polo Grounds & became a bartender there for a short time. 

Passing: In 1912 he pitched in the United States league in his home town of Chicago, but he kept drinking getting into fights. That same year he was badly beaten up & took some blows to the head with a baseball bat, after a bad bar fight. A few weeks later he got into a fight with an angry fan and took a few more blows to his head. Later that week, he complained of headaches and then was found dead in a Chicago hotel room. 

An investigation proved he had a fractured his skull, most likely in the brawls, and died of a cerebral hemorrhage. Bugs Raymond was only 30 years old, at the time of his death in 1912.  When his former manager McGraw learned of his death, he said " that man took seven years off my life", hence the nick name of Bugs. 

 In his six year career he was 47-57 with a 2.49 ERA, striking out 401 batters in 854 innings pitched over 136 games pitched.

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