Contemporaries of 6’3″ Addie Joss admired him as much as almost anyone who ever put on a major league uniform. His untimely death from an attack of tubercular meningitis in April 1911 shocked the baseball world; Cleveland’s opener in Detroit was postponed due to funeral services in Toledo. So well thought of was Joss that the top AL players of the day formed an all-star team to play the Indians for the benefit of his widow.
After winning 25 games in his second pro season at Toledo (Western Association), Joss pitched a one-hitter in his 1902 debut. He led the AL with five shutouts that season, and he won at least 20 games each year from 1905 through 1908. His career-high 27 victories in 1907 tied him for the AL lead with Chicago’s Doc White. Joss used a good fastball and an exceptional curve to five times record ERAs of 1.83 or less. His 1908 league-leading ERA of 1.16 is the eighth-lowest ever. On October 2, 1908 Joss and Chicago’s 40-game winner, Big Ed Walsh, squared off in one of the game’s most memorable pitching duels. Cleveland, Chicago, and Detroit (who ultimately prevailed) were locked in a pennant race, adding to the tension of the contest. Walsh tossed a four-hitter, striking out 15 and allowing only one run. Joss, however, was even better, setting down 27 straight for a perfect game. Two years later, he no-hit the White Sox again.
Perhaps most remarkable of Joss’s feats was his completion of 234 of his 260 starts. In his final season he was plagued by arm injuries, making just 13 appearances. His lifetime 1.88 ERA ranks second all-time to Ed Walsh’s 1.82. Joss pitched only nine years; it was his ERA that convinced the Veterans Committee to bend the 10-year career minimum rule and let him into the Hall of Fame.