Al Orth Essentials
Positions: Pitcher and Outfielder
Bats: Left Throws: Right
Height: 6-0 Weight: 200
Born: September 5, 1872 in Sedalia, MO USA
Died: October 8, 1948 in Lynchburg, VA USA
Burried: Spring Hill Cemetery, Lynchburg, VA
School: DePauw University (Greencastle, IN)
Debut: August 15, 1895
Last Game: September 20, 1909
vs. CLE 3.0 IP, 6 H, 1 SO, 1 BB, 0 ER
Full Name: Albert Lewis Orth
Nicknames: Smiling Al or The Curveless Wonder
Albert Lewis Orth was born on September 9, 1872, in Tipton, Indiana. As a child he played ball games, perfecting the art of hurling underhanded, which he later used in the professional ranks. At the age of 21, Orth attended DePauw University in Indiana, where he played on the baseball team. The next year, he pitched for Lynchburg, wherein 1895, he attracted national attention when he won 28 games in less than a full season. The Philadelphia Phillies signed him to a professional contract on August 13, for $1,000, putting Orth on the mound immediately. Using his underhand style, Orth won eight of nine decisions for Philadelphia, rallying them to a third-place finish.
From 1896-1900, Orth won 14 or 15 games every year for the Phillies and also earned playing time in the outfield. Orth was a good hitter — batting over .290 seven times in his 15-year career, and he exhibited fine speed on the basepaths. In 1901, using his fastball exclusively, Orth won 20 games for the Phillies. Following that success, Orth jumped to the Washington Senators in the fledgling American League in ’02. But he never got on track in Washington, suffering a 32-44 record in a little over two years with the losing Senators. In July of 1904, Orth was dealt to the Highlanders for former twenty-game winner Long Tom Hughes and a reliever.
In New York, Orth met the man who would have the largest impact on his career, teammate Jack Chesbro. A future Hall of Fame pitcher, Chesbro taught Orth how to throw a spitball, which gave him a second pitch to rely on. Finding success with his new pitch, Orth was soon using the spitter as much as possible, going 11-6 in his first partial season with the Highlanders. In 1905, Orth won 18 games, and the nest year he busted out with his career season — 27 wins and a 2.34 ERA.
Within a few seasons, Orth was out of New York’s rotation, but his lively bat kept him in the big leagues. In 1907, he batted .324 withs even extra-base hits and 13 RBI, and in 1908 he hit .290. In 1909, with younger men in the Highlanders’ rotation, Orth retired early in the season and took a job managing in the minor leagues. After that, he served as an umpire in the Virginia League and the National League (from 1912-1917), and later as a coach of several college teams, including Virginia Military Institute.