Red Faber

Faber was a steady, even-tempered spitballer whose long life in the second division probably kept him from the select 300-win club. With Chicago’s lineup decimated by the loss of the Black Sox stars, Faber endured 13 seasons in or below fifth place, and only three at .500 or above. His lifetime winning percentage of .545 was achieved mostly with teams below .500.

Faber acquired his spitter in 1911, after a sore arm ruined early tryouts with the Pirates. Sold to Des Moines (Western League), he had two sterling seasons, and was purchased by the White Sox for $3,500. The Sox and Giants scheduled a world tour after the 1913 season. Faber, who had not yet pitched an inning of major league ball, was loaned to the Giants when Christy Mathewson declined to take the trip. Faber won four exhibitions against his future teammates, and began his 20-year, one-team career in 1914.

He was the pitching star of the 1917 Series win over the Giants, missed most of 1918 in the Navy, and returned to help win the 1919 pennant with 11 victories. He was on the bench for the scandalous Series, however, with recurring arm trouble and the flu.

Faber’s peak years were 1921 and 1922, when he won 25 and 21 games while the Sox were finishing seventh and fifth. He led the league in ERA and complete games both years. From 1914 through 1923, he had ten consecutive winning seasons. But he was not overpowering. His 1,471 strikeouts are far down the all-time list, yet he always claimed success against Ruth and Cobb. Like many spitballers, he threw the spitter sparingly, for contrast, and with a variety of motions. Always poised, the excellent control pitcher became increasingly sager. In his 4,087 innings, he allowed only 110 HR (one every 37 innings), and hit only 104 batters (one every 39).

His oddest statistical feats came as a batter. A .134 switch hitter, in 1915 he walked seven times in a row. Twice, he made the most of his rare on-base appearances by stealing home.

Faber served several seasons as a White Sox coach. After baseball, he worked until his eighties on a Cook County Highway Department survey team.