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Carl Owen Hubbell (June 22, 1903November 21, 1988) was a left-handed screwball pitcher in Major League Baseball who played with the New York Giants in the National League from 1928 to 1943.

Early years[]

Hubbell was born in Carthage, Missouri. He was originally signed by the Detroit Tigers and was invited to spring training in 1926. However, pitching coach George McBride and player-manager Ty Cobb weren't impressed with him. Additionally, they were concerned about his reliance on a screwball, a pitch similar to Christy Mathewson's [fadeaway]]. Hubbell was sent to the Toronto Maple Leafs in the International League before the start of the season. He went 7-7 on a championship team. 1927, he was invited to spring training again with Detroit, but McBride and Cobb still weren't impressed and sent him two steps down the minor-league ladder, to the Decatur Commodores of the Illinois-Indiana-Iowa League. Despite going 14-7, the Tigers didn't invite him back for 1928, and he was sent to the Beaumont Exporters of the Texas League. [1]

Hubbell was so fed up by this time that he told Beaumont manager Claude Robinson that unless he was sold to another organization by the end of the season, he'd retire and go into the oil business.[2] Years later, he said that being unloaded by the Tigers was the best thing that ever happened to him.

Career with the Giants[]

His break came that June, when Giants scout Dick Kinsella happened to be in Houston attending the Democratic National Convention, and decided to take in a game between Hubbell's Exporters and the Houston Buffs. He hadn't planned on doing any scouting, but was impressed by Hubbell. Kinsella called Giants manager John McGraw and mentioned that he'd found out he'd been released by Detroit in part because of Cobb's concerns about the screwball. McGraw replied that Christy Mathewson had a screwball--or a fadeaway, as it was called in his time--and it didn't seem to affect his arm. Kinsella followed Hubbell for a month and was still impressed.[1] Hubbell

Hubbell would go 10-6 in his first major league season, and would pitch his entire career for the Giants. He was held back somewhat in his first few years by Manager John McGraw, who retired in June, 1932 and limited Hubbell's use of the "screwball." When Bill Terry replaced McGraw, he did not put any restirictions on Hubbell's use of the screwball. With a slow delivery of his devastating screwball, Hubbell recorded five consecutive 20-win seasons for the Giants (1933-37), and helped his team to three NL pennants and the 1933 World Series title against the Washington Senators. In the 1933 Series, he won two complete game victories, including an 11-inning 2-1 triumph in Game Four (the run was unearned). In six career Series starts, he was 4-2 with 32 strikeouts and a low 1.79 earned run average. Hubbell finished his career with a 253-154 record, 1678 strikeouts, 724 walks, 36 shutouts and a 2.97 ERA, in 3590 innings pitched.

Hubbell was released at the end of the 1943 season after going 4-4; it was the only time he didn't record double-digit wins..[2] However, Giants owner Horace Stoneham immediately appointed him as director of player development, a post he held for 35 years. The last 10 years of his life were spent as a Giants scout. At the time of his death, he was the last New York Giant still active in some capacity in baseball.

He won 24 consecutive National League decisions between 1936 (16) & 1937 (8), the longest such streak ever recorded in either the National league or American League. He was twice named National League MVP (1933, 1936) (1st unanimous NL MVP pick in 1936). He led the league in wins 3 times in 1933 (23), 1936 (26), and 1937 (22). He led the league in ERA three times in 1933 (1.66), 1934 (2.30), and 1936 (2.31). He led the league in innings pitched in 1933 (308). He led the league in strikeouts in 1937 (159). He led the league in strikeouts per 9 innings pitched in 1938 (5.23). He led the league in shutouts in 1933 (10). He led the league in saves in 1934 (8, retroactively credited). He compiled a streak of 46 1/3 scoreless innings (NL record until broken by Don Drysdale of the L.A. Dodgers in 1968. and four shutouts in 1933. He pitched a no-hitter against the Pittsburgh Pirates (11-0, May 8, 1929). He pitched an 18-inning 1-0 shutout against the St. Louis Cardinals (1-0, July 2, 1933), without allowing a walk. Hubbell pitched another memorable game on May 30, 1940, when he threw only 87 pitches in a 7-0 one-hitter against the Brooklyn Dodgers. He faced the minimum 27 batters, as Johnny Hudson, who singled, was caught stealing. Hubbell had 5 consecutive 20-win seasons (1933-1937). He struck out 5 consecutive (eventual) Hall of Famers in the 1934 All-Star Game at the Polo Grounds, Ruth, Gehrig, Foxx, Simmons, and Cronin - the basis of a popular baseball trivia question.

In its 1936 World Series cover story about Lou Gehrig and Carl Hubbell, Time magazine depicted the Fall Classic that year between crosstown rivals Giants and Yankees as "a personal struggle between Hubbell and Gehrig", calling Hubbell "...currently baseball's No. 1 Pitcher and among the half dozen ablest in the game's annals." Time said that while he was growing up on his family's Missouri farm, he "practiced for hours...throwing stones at a barn door until he could unfailingly hit knotholes no bigger than a dime".[3]

Hubbell's primary pitch was always the screwball, a particularly difficult ball to throw, and one that places an unusual amount of stress on a pitcher's arm. However, he threw it so frequently and for so many years that his left arm became permanently twisted, leaving his left palm facing outward at arm's rest. [4]
At the time of Hubbell's retirement, he was 2nd in wins by an NL lefthander with 253 wins (Eppa Rixey had 266 wins, but lost 251 games compared to Hubbell's 154 (although Rixey pitched for some very bad teams). He has since been surpassed by Warren Spahn (363), Steve Carlton, and Tom Glavine.

All-Star game moments[]

In the 1934 All-Star game played at the Polo Grounds, Hubbell set a record by striking out in succession five batters destined for Cooperstown: Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons and Joe Cronin. In 1984, the 50th anniversary of this legendary performance, the National League pitchers Fernando Valenzuela (who perfected the screball himself) and Dwight Gooden combined to fan six batters in a row for a new All-Star Game record (future Hall of Famers Dave Winfield, Reggie Jackson, and George Brett by Valenzuela; Lance Parrish, Chet Lemon, and Alvin Davis by Gooden). Hubbell himself was on hand for the 1984 All-Star Game at San Francisco's Candlestick Park to throw out the first pitch (a screwball) [citation needed]. Hubbell, who died in 1988, survived the 5 consecutive Hall-of-Fame bound players he struck out: Babe Ruth (1948), Lou Gehrig (1939), Jimmie Foxx (1967), Al Simmons (1956), and Joe Cronin (1984).


Hubbell died due to injuries sustained in an auto accident in Scottsdale, Arizona in 1988. He is interred at Meeker-Newhope Cemetery in Meeker, Oklahoma. Ironically, fellow-Giant Hall of Famers Frankie Frisch (1973) and Mel Ott (1958) also died as a result of automobile accidents. (Frisch was never Hubbell's teammmate, having played 2nd half of career with St.Louis Cardinals)

Baseball honors[]

Hubbell is mentioned in the poem "Lineup for Yesterday" by Ogden Nash:

Lineup for Yesterday
U would be 'Ubbell
If Carl were a Cockney;
We say Hubbell and baseball
Like football and Rockne.
Ogden Nash, Sport magazine (January 1949)[5]

See also[]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Neyer, Rob (2006). Rob Neyer's Big Book of Baseball Blunders. New York City: Fireside.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Purdy, Dennis (2006). The Team-by-Team Encyclopedia of Major League Baseball. New York City: Workman.
  3. "Equinoctial Climax", Time magazine, October 5, 1936. Retrieved on 2007-12-17.
  4. David Schoenfield, "Baseball's greatest pitches of all-time", ESPN, May 15 2007
  5. Baseball Almanac. Retrieved on 2008-01-23.

External links[]