Getzein was an outstanding pitcher of the 1880s. In 1886 he was 30-11 for the Detroit NL team. The following season, he was 29-13 and led the NL in winning percentage (.690) as Detroit won the pennant. In the 15-game postseason championship series between the NL winner and the American Association champion, he posted four wins. Getzein and catcher Charlie Ganzel became known as the Pretzel Battery because they both were of German extraction.