Carl Hubbell Essentials

Position: Pitcher
Bats: Right  •  Throws: Left
6-0, 170lb (183cm, 77kg)
Born: June 22, 1903 in Carthage, MO
Died: November 21, 1988 (Aged 85-152d) in Scottsdale, AZ
Buried: New Hope Cemetery, Meeker, OK
High School: Meeker HS (Meeker, OK)
Debut: July 26, 1928 (Age 25-034d, 5,890th in MLB history)
vs. PIT 1.2 IP, 7 H, 1 SO, 0 BB, 2 ER, L
Last Game: August 24, 1943 (Age 40-063d)
vs. CHC 0.0 IP, 2 H, 0 SO, 0 BB, 0 ER
Hall of Fame: Inducted as Player in 1947. (Voted by BBWAA on 140/161 ballots)
View Carl Hubbell’s Page at the Baseball Hall of Fame (plaque, photos, videos).

Full Name: Carl Owen Hubbell

Nicknames: King Carl or Meal Ticket

View Player Bio from the SABR BioProject

 

Ty Cobb didn’t have to hit Carl Hubbell’s screwball, but he still didn’t like it. That’s why Hubbell ended up pitching for 15 years for the New York Giants instead of the Detroit Tigers. Hubbell was a left-handed pitcher for the Giants from 1928 to 1943. He was an All-Star nine years in a row beginning in 1933 to 1942. He was twice named National League Most Valuable Player, including the 1933 season when the Giants won the World Series. Hubbell was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1947. During his career, Hubbell was considered to be one of the very best pitchers of his time. He was known for his screwball, a pitch that placed an unusual amount of torque on his arm and, as a result, affected where he ended up playing his entire career.

 

Born in Carthage, Mo., in 1903, Hubbell was working in the Oklahoma oil fields when he started playing ball for an oil company team. He played minor league ball for two years before signing his first pro contract with the Detroit Tigers, who invited him to spring training in 1926. His performance did not impress Tigers player-manager Ty Cobb, who did not like the screwball, fearing it would damage his arm. Hubbell himself was later quoted as saying, “The screwball is an unnatural pitch. Nature never intended a man to turn his hand like that throwing rocks at a bear.” Cobb forbade Hubbell to throw the pitch while in spring training, and he eventually sent the lefthander to play for the Toronto Maple Leafs of the International League. The Maple Leafs won the title that year, and Hubbell was 7-7 for the club.
Hubbell’s experience with the Tigers extended into 1927, when he was invited again to spring training, only to be shipped out again, this time to an even lower-level minor league club. Pitching for the Decatur Commodores of the Illinois-Indiana-Iowa League, Hubbell posted a record of 14-7.

The Tigers still didn’t want Hubbell on their major league roster in 1928, and they eventually sent him to Beaumont, Texas to play in the Texas League. That trip was destined to change Hubbell’s baseball fortunes, for it was in Beaumont that Giants scout Dick Kinsella spotted him for the first time. Kinsella reported to Giants manager John McGraw that he had found a good pitcher who threw a screwball. Unlike Cobb, McGraw had no particular adversion to that pitch since he had watched Christy Mathewson use it his entire career without damaging his arm. After a month in Texas, Hubbell was invited to join the Giants.

Hubbell, who eventually came to be known as “King Carl”, debuted in the major leagues in 1928. He was at his very best from 1933 to 1937, posting five consecutive 20-win seasons. In the 1933 World Series against the Washington Senators, he had two complete game victories, including an 11-inning affair won 2-1 by the Giants.

Between the end of 1936 and the beginning of the 1937 season, Hubbell won a major league record 24 consecutive games. In six World Series starts (1933, 1936 and 1937), Hubbell went 4-2, with 32 strikeouts and an ERA of 1.79. Hubbell was named National League MVP in both 1933 and 1936, and he was the first ever unanimous MVP selection in the second of those years. Many baseball fans viewed the 1936 World Series between the Giants and the New York Yankees as a direct individual competition between Hubbell and Yankees great Lou Gehrig.

The highlight of Hubbell’s All-Star appearances came in 1934 when he struck out future Hall of Famers Babe Ruth, Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons and Joe Cronin, in succession. The contest was the second ever All-Star Game, and Hubbell’s pitching exploits reportedly changed the attitude towards the Midsummer Classic into a spectacle that could not be missed.

The Giants released Hubbell after the 1943 season when Hubbell went 4-4. However, they hired him immediately thereafter to be their director of player development. Hubbell remained with the team in that role for the next 35 years, following the Giants to San Francisco. The Giants retired Hubbell’s number 11 jersey in 1944, making him the first National League player to be so honored. The former pitching great died in Scottsdale, Arizona, in an automobile accident in 1988.