New York Giants Hall Of Fame Pitcher: "The Meal Ticket" Carl Hubbell (1928-1943)
Carl Owen Hubbell was born June 22, 1903 in Carthage, Missouri. The six foot left hander became known as King Carl & The Meal Ticket.
As a young boy he would throw stones against his barn door, he got so good he was able to hit them on a hole the size of a dime. In his career Hubbell’ s best pitch was a screwball, he threw it so often it left his arm twisted and had his palm facing outward after his baseball career.
Hubbell attended high school at Meeker Oklahoma & was originally signed by the Detroit Tigers. He was first sent to minor league Toronto & then to Decatur Georgia as well as the Texas League. After two years of frustrations, he was released by Detroit, because player manager Ty Cobb feared the screw ball would hurt his arm.
In 1926 the New York Giants signed him, manager John McGraw said "after all Christy Mathewson threw a screw ball pitch called the fade away." Hubbell went 10-6 in his 1929 rookie year, with a 2.83 ERA. On May 8th, he threw a no hitter against the Pittsburgh Pirates. It was the first by a left hander in over a decade.
He then won 17 games or more over the next four seasons, coming in second place for the ERA title three times. By 1933 he established himself as one of the best pitchers in the game. He would win twenty or more games for five straight years, leading the league in wins three of those times. He would lead the league in ERA three times & winning percentage twice. In that time he threw over 300 innings each year, leading the league one time in that category as well as in complete games, strike outs & shut outs all one time.
He won his first MVP Award in 1933, going 23-12 with a 1.66 ERA & ten shut outs, pitching in 308 innings, all the best numbers in the league. He led his Giants to a pennant & a World Series win over the Washington Nationals.
Post Season: In the 1933 World Series he opened up Game #1 & threw a complete game five hit victory over Washington at the Polo Grounds. The Senators scored two un earned runs as Hubbell struck out ten batters. In Game #4 at Griffith Stadium in Washington D.C., he went ten innings and allowed just one unearned run, leading the Giants to their third victory of the Series. They would win the Worlds championship in five games.
Hubbell followed with two more twenty win seasons, but the Giants finished second in 1934 & third in 1935. In 1934 he led the league in ERA (2.30) complete games (25) & saves (8). His 23 wins (23-12) in 1935 were second best in the league, but he also allowed a league leading 27 HRs.
In the 1934 All Star Game, played at the Polo Grounds, Hubbell accomplished one of his most remembered feats. He struck out five consecutive batters headed to the Hall of Fame; Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons and Joe Cronin. Then after allowing a single he struck out Left Gomez to make it six Hall of Famers going down on strikes in two innings. Overall he played in nine All Star games throughout his career.
In 1936 he had another incredible year & won his second MVP Award. During a stretch from July 1936 which lasted to the end of May 1937, he won a record 24 straight games. Hubbell pitched 46 1/3 scoreless in that time. By mid July he was 10-6, when the streak began.
On July 17th he shut out the Pittsburgh Pirates 6-0 & then two days later he came in relief earning another win over the Reds in Cincinnati. On the next home stand he earned four wins; beating the Cardinals, Cubs, Reds & Pirates. In August not only did he go 6-0 but also earned himself a pair of saves in relief. All of his wins were complete games & on August 12th he tossed a two hit shutout over the Dodgers in Brooklyn. In September he went 6-0 once again, allowing just one run, pitching complete games three times that month.
He finished the year at 26-6, leading the league in wins, winning percentage (.813%) & ERA (2.31). He struck out 123 batters & walked 57 in 304 innings in 42 games (34 starts) leading the Giants to another pennant.
Post Season: In the 1936 subway series he won Game #1 at the Polo Grounds, allowing just one run in nine innings, striking out eight in the Giants 6-1 win. He returned in Game #4 buy took the loss across the Harlem River to Monte Pearson. Hubbell allowed three earned runs on eight hits in seven innings. The Giants lost the series in six games.
The Meal Ticket returned in 1937 and was receiving a lot of attention. In the second game of the season he shut out the Brooklyn Dodgers on a three hitter. At home in the Polo Grounds he won his next three starts, two of them complete games. It was on the road from there & he won in St. Louis, Pittsburgh & Cincinnati bringing the streak to 24 straight regular season wins.
On May 31st, 1937 at New York's Polo Grounds, the NYFD had to turn away a crowd of an estimated 20,000 fans who did not have tickets for the game, for public safety. An incredible 60,000 had already jammed into the Polo Grounds and the surrounding hills, to watch Carl (The Meal Ticket) Hubbell continue his win streak.
But it was on this day that he took his 1st loss in ten months losing 10-3 to the Brooklyn Dodgers. One of the things that makes baseball so great are the unsung heroes, that shine for a day to break or spoil a record. Today it was Brooklyn Dodger, back up catcher Paul Chervinko, making his first MLB start of a short 45 game career. Chervinko would contribute with two RBIs helping Brooklyn defeat the Giants & beat Hubbell for the first time on the season.
In June after earning a save, he went on a personal four game losing streak. He rebounded with a July that had him throw four complete game victories. He finished the year at 22-7, leading the league in wins (22) win percentage (.733) & strike outs (159).
Post Season: The Giants went on to win another pennant that season & Hubbell made his final World Series appearance. In Game #1 he gave up four runs & was knocked out of the game in the 6th inning, taking the loss to Lefty Gomez.
He came back in Game #4 to salvage the only game of the Series for the Giants. He pitched a two run, six hit complete game in a 5-3 win. In six World Series starts in his career, he was 4-2 with 32 strikeouts in 50 innings and a 1.79 ERA. At the plate he even had four hits in 19 at bats.
Hubbell went on to win double figures in the next five seasons for the Giants but the glory days were behind him. The Giants suffered a series of bad seasons, finishing a best third twice in those years. His last year pitching was 1943, Hubbell was 4-4 with a 4.91 ERA at age 40 & he was released.
Lifetime he was 253-154 (44th all time in wins) with 1677 strike outs (127th all time) 227 walks & a 2.98 ERA (165th all time) in 3590 innings pitched (62nd all time). He threw 260 complete games (69th all time) & 36 shut outs (63rd all time) in 433 starts (89th all time).
He was so respected by his peers, he was elected to the Hall of Fame four years after he retired, before the five year rule. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in the class of 1947. He was also a good hitter, batting a career .191 with 4 HRs 30 doubles & 101 RBIs.
Retirement: After his playing days, Giants owner Horace Stoneman, put him in charge of player development. He held that position for 35 years through the 1979 season. After that he became a scout through the next decade until the time of his death.
Honors: He was the first player in the NL to have his number retired (#11) and he was the last New York Giants player to still be involved in baseball.
Passing: In 1988 Hubbell passed away after complications following a series automobile accident. It was thiry years to the day that his team mate Mel Ott died of the same cause. He is interred in Meeker Oklahoma.