Jacob “Erskine” Mayer
Born: James Erskine Mayer
Born: January 16, 1890 - Atlanta, GA
Died: March 10, 1957 - Los Angeles, CA
MLB Pitching Record: 91–70
Philadelphia Phillies NL (January 16, 1889 - March 10, 1957)
Pittsburgh Pirates NL (1918–1919)
Chicago White Sox AL (1919)
Steve Carlton won 238 more games than Erskine Mayer, but the two have a lot in common. In 1914, Mayer was a good pitcher on a bad team, winning 21 games for the sixth place Philadelphia Phillies. Carlton would meet the same fate 58 years later going 27–10 for the last place 1972 Phils. Both men deserved better. In 1914, only one Phillies regular, Beals Becker, hit over .300. It was for this reason that Mayer also lost 19 games that season.
In 1915, Mayer’s team caught up with his arm. The Phillies took the National League flag as Mayer won 21 games with a 2.36 ERA. In the World Series versus the Red Sox, Mayer surrendered 16 hits in two starts as Boston eliminated Philly in five games. Those two seasons proved to be the pinnacle of his career. However, even at his best, Mayer was always overshadowed by teammate Grover Cleveland Alexander. On July 1, 1918, Mayer was traded to Pittsburgh for Elmer Jacobs. With the Pirates, he would complete his last great season in the big leagues, fashioning a 16–7 record with 18 complete games. In Mayer’s final season of 1919, he returned to the World Series with the ChiSox.
Although Mayer was not involved, the fix was in and the Black Sox fell in disgrace.
Mayer’s genealogy is more interesting than his career. His great-grandfather worked for German statesman Otto Von Bismarck, and his uncle captained the river boat that inspired the stories of a young author named Samuel Clemens, also known as Mark Twain. Mayer himself was no writer, but from time to time he did author a gem or two on the hill.
– Tom and Ellen Zappala, The Cracker Jack Collection: Baseball's Prized Players. For more information on their book and/or to order a copy at a special PSA discount, visit http://crackerjackplayers.com/PSA_order.html