Except for a single game he lost for St. Louis in 1906, Adams pitched his entire major league career with Pittsburgh. After a brief stay with the Pirates in 1907, the quiet Hoosier rejoined the team as a 27-year-old rookie in 1909 and helped them win the pennant with a 12-3 mark. The Pirates went into the World Series against Ty Cobb and the Detroit Tigers with staff ace Howie Camnitz laid up with tonsillitis. Even though Adams ranked fifth on the club in wins, manager Fred Clarke chose him as the opening game pitcher on a tip that the righthander’s style resembled that of Dolly Gray, an AL pitcher who’d handled the Tigers well during the season. Adams won Game One 4-1, Game Five 8-4, and, on two day’s rest, clinched the series 8-0 to become the first pitcher to win three games in a seven-game series.
Over the next half-dozen years, Adams was the Pirates’ ace, winning 22 games in 1911 and 21 in 1913. A sore arm threatened his career in 1916, and he returned to the minors. He was 34-16 in less than two minor league seasons before the Pirates brought him back. In both 1919 and 1920 he posted 17-win totals. He led the NL with eight shutouts in 1920. In 1925, when he was a 43-year-old reliever, he made another World Series appearance, pitching one scoreless inning against the Senators.
Adams was never a hard thrower and his sore arm cost him what speed he had, but he could put the ball exactly where he wanted to. In 1920, he walked only 18 men in 263 innings. He allowed a mere 430 bases on balls for his career.