Old-Tyme Pitching Decisions (the 1916-1949 edition)

Retrosheet


Old-Tyme Pitching Decisions (the 1916-1949 edition)

By Tom Ruane

Among people who take their baseball analysis seriously, pitching wins and losses are not a fashionable statistic. They argue that there are a host of better metrics for evaluating pitchers (ERA+, FIP and so on), and they certainly have a point. Still, I suspect that even they are not immune to the simple charms of a won-loss line, and would be much more likely to watch a meaningless season-ending game if one of the starting pitchers began the day with nineteen rather than eighteen wins.

For the most part, wins and losses are pretty straightforward and understandable. If you were the last pitcher on the mound for your team when they take the lead for good, you get the win. If you are charged with the last go-ahead run, you lose. Oh, things can get complicated if the first pitcher for the winning team fails to last five innings, but even then, the situation is almost always pretty clear-cut.

It wasn't always that way. There was a time when the rules weren't so straightforward, when official scorers (and sometimes even league presidents) could be creative in their choices of winners and losers. Or could they?

In the spring of 1916, John Heydler, the Secretary of the National League, sent a letter of instructions to his official scorers. In the section entitled "Basic Rules for Determining Games Won and Lost Where Two or More Pitchers Participate on a Side," he wrote:

"While it is not possible to make hard and fast rules for determining which pitcher should be credited with winning, or charged with the loss of a game, yet there are certain fundamental rules in arriving at a decision which have stood the test of criticism and which are as follows:

"1. When one pitcher is relieved by another with runners on bases, charge up all such runners, in case they score, to the first pitcher. The relieving pitcher, coming into the game 'cold,' and possibly in the midst of a batting rally, cannot be held responsible for runners he may find on the bases; nor should he be charged up with the first batsman he faces reaching first if such batsman had any advantage because of the wild pitching of the first pitcher.

"2. Where the relieving pitcher goes in with the score tied on even innings, he must win or lose the game, regardless of the number of innings or how effectively the first pitcher may have pitched. If the first pitcher is relieved with the score in his favor,and later the score is tied up off second pitcher, then the latter wins or loses. A tie game at any stage (with no one on bases) must be considered tor all intents and purposes the start of a new game for the second pitcher.

"3. Where the first pitcher is retired after pitching. say, seven innings, he is entitled to the benefit of all runs by his side in an equal number of innings. For instance, Brown of the home club has pitched seven innings, with the score 2 to 0 against him. He is taken out when his turn at bat comes in the seventh. Before close of that inning his team has scored two runs. Brown retires with the game a tie, and the next pitcher becomes responsible.

"4. Do not give the first pitcher credit for a game won, even if score is in his favor, unless he has pitched at least the first half of the game. A pitcher retired at close of fourth inning, with the score 2 to 1 in his favor, has not a won game. If, however, he is taken out because of his team having secured a commanding and winning lead in a few innings, then he is entitled to the win. The good judgement of the scorer must determine in such cases, as much depend on whether the pitcher is relieved because of ineffectiveness, or because he has a commanding lead, or because it becomes necessary, at a critical stage, to replace him by a stronger batsman.

"5. Regardless of how many innings the first pitcher may have pitched, he is charged with the loss of the game, if he is retired with the score against him, and his team is unable thereafter either to tie or overcome that lead."1

For the most part, this is a pretty modern view. The basic areas of difference between his letter and the practices of today are:

1) It seems as if he doesn't think a visiting pitcher should get credit for any runs scored in the top half of an inning if he doesn't at least take the mound for the start of the bottom half, and

2) He has no problem awarding a victory to a pitcher making a short start as long as the pitcher was removed because of his team's commanding lead and not due to ineffectiveness.

I give the modern rules a split decision over Heydler here. Giving the visiting starter credit for any runs scored before another pitcher takes the mound for his team makes more sense than what his letter described. But the modern rule requiring that a starter pitch at least five innings is not really an improvement over the common sense approach outlined above. Why should a relief pitcher be able to retire a single batter and pick up a win, while an effective starter is not worthy if he retires with a fat lead after four innings?

But these differences don't begin to explain some of things we see once we start examining the decisions of the official scorers during these years and there are two reasons for this. First, not all official scorers in the National League paid attention to those directions. The other reason? Ban Johnson.

Ban Johnson, the president of the American League from its inception until 1927, didn't like pitching wins and losses. That didn't prevent him from having strong opinions on the subject, however, opinions that were often unpopular. On August 26, 1912, Walter Johnson came on in relief of Tom Hughes in the top of the seventh with two men on, one out and Washington holding a 3-2 lead. Johnson struck out the first batter he faced before giving up a two-run single. Another strikeout ended the inning, but the Browns now had a 4-3 lead they would not relinquish.

Today, both runs in that inning, as well as the loss, would have been charged to Hughes. But Ban Johnson ruled that the runs and loss should be the responsibility of the reliever. Since this questionable loss broke Johnson's American League record sixteen game winning streak, the ruling was very unpopular in Washington. According to the Washington Post: "Washington fans are slow to accept President Johnson's decision in the Walter Johnson case of Monday, and probably will resent it during their lifetime...."

It didn't help that when John Heydler was asked for his opinion, he responded that the "Rule invariably followed by me holds pitcher responsible for all runners on bases when he retires from game, and first pitcher, therefore, must be charged with the defeat. It is an unfair proposition, under such conditions, to expect the second pitcher to prevent runs."2

It became less of an issue when Walter proceeded to lose his next four starts, but the league president's intercession at the expense of his namesake, as well as the reaction to it, were not forgotten.

Ban would make it up to Walter the following July 16th, when he awarded the pitcher a win he wouldn't have gotten today. This time, the league president was following the policy outlined in Heydler's earlier note, and did not give the previous reliever, who departed in the bottom of the eighth inning, the benefit of the decisive runs scored in the top of the next inning. The pitcher who would have won the had not Johnson interceded? Tom Hughes, the pitcher saved from a loss the previous August.

By that time, Ban Johnson had already instructed his official scorers to stop awarding pitching wins and losses. A practice that continued until 1919. So where did the wins and losses for these missing years come from? Well, Baseball Guides and newspaper continued to publish unofficial totals, and then during the 1960s, ICI, Information Concepts Incorporated, the group responsible for the first edition of the Macmillan Baseball Encyclopedia, went through the official dailies, assigning wins and losses on the sheets. And when I say "on the sheets," I mean just that: they marked up the originals of the fifty-year old dailies.

So much for the preamble. This article will document three classes of pitching decisions:

1) starting pitchers who were credited with the win despite being gone by the time their team took their last lead,

2) starting pitchers who were not credited with the win despite pitching at least five innings and leaving with a lead his team would not lose, and

3) losing pitchers who didn't give up the run that cost their team the game. Note: this will not include games like the Walter Johnson loss described above because he was charged with the inherited runners who scored.

First things first. From 1916 to 1949, there were 31 instances of a starting pitcher getting a win in games in which he had been replaced on the mound before his team took the lead for good. Here are the games, the winning pitcher ("Winner"), his won-loss record that season, the pitcher who normally would have received credit for the victory ("Unwinner"), and his record:

 Game          Team   Oppon  Winner              W  L   Unwinner            W  L
 4-22-1916     CHI N  CIN N  Tom Seaton          6  6   Jimmy Lavender     10 14   
 6-16-1916     CHI A  BOS A  Lefty Williams     13  7   Jim Scott           7 14   
 6-22-1916(2)  BRO N  PHI N  Sherry Smith       14 10   Wheezer Dell        8  9   
 6-25-1916(2)  STL A  DET A  Bob Groom          13  9   Ernie Koob         11  8   
 7- 1-1916(2)  STL N  CHI N  Red Ames           11 16   Lee Meadows        12 23   
 7-15-1916     DET A  NY  A  Hooks Dauss        19 12   Bernie Boland      10  3   
 8- 7-1916     STL A  WAS A  Carl Weilman       17 18   Bob Groom          13  9   
 8-13-1916     DET A  CHI A  Bill James          8 12   Harry Coveleski    21 11   
 8-13-1916     CLE A  STL A  Otis Lambeth        4  4   Jim Bagby          16 17   
 9-15-1916     CLE A  PHI A  Ken Penner          1  1   Pop-boy Smith       1  2   o
 9-21-1916     CLE A  WAS A  Pop-boy Smith       1  2   Al Gould            5  6   o
 9-30-1916(2)  CHI A  CLE A  Lefty Williams     13  7   Eddie Cicotte      15  7   
 5-16-1918     PHI A  CLE A  Vean Gregg          9 14   Scott Perry        20 19   
 9-26-1919     NY  N  BOS N  Rosy Ryan           1  2   Jean Dubuc          6  4   f
 9-12-1920     BOS A  STL A  Waite Hoyt          6  6   Bullet Joe Bush    15 15   
 6- 3-1921     BOS A  CLE A  Allen Russell       6 11   Herb Pennock       13 14   
 7- 7-1921(2)  DET A  CHI A  Red Oldham         11 14   Jim Middleton       6 11   
 5- 3-1922     STL N  CIN N  Bill Doak          11 13   Lou North          10  3   
 5-27-1924(1)  STL N  CIN N  Jeff Pfeffer        9  8   Bill Doak          13  6   
 8-10-1924     STL A  PHI A  Dave Danforth      15 12   Elam Vangilder      5 10   
 9- 5-1926     CHI N  PIT N  Bob Osborn          6  5   Walt Huntzinger     1  5   
 8-19-1928     DET A  WAS A  Vic Sorrell         8 11   George Smith        1  1   
 5-23-1930     PHI N  NY  N  Ray Benge          11 15   Phil Collins       16 11   
 7-18-1930     NY  N  STL N  Pete Donohue        8  9   Joe Heving          7  5   
 8- 9-1930     STL N  BRO N  Flint Rhem         12  8   Bill Hallahan      15  9   
 4-18-1931     STL N  CHI N  Bill Hallahan      19  9   Paul Derringer     18  8   
 7-14-1931     STL N  BRO N  Jesse Haines       12  3   Jim Lindsey         6  4   
 5-12-1933     PHI N  CHI N  Jack Berly          2  3   Phil Collins        8 13   
 6-21-1933     PHI N  CIN N  Cy Moore            8  9   Snipe Hansen        6 14   
 7-29-1933     NY  N  BOS N  F.Fitzsimmons      16 11   Hi Bell             6  5   
 6-27-1934     STL N  NY  N  Dizzy Dean         30  7   Jim Mooney          2  4   

f - first major league win
o - first and only major league win

And here are the 28 starters who under modern rules should have been credited with a win (pitched at least five innings and left with a lead his team would not relinquish) but weren't:

 Game          Team   Oppon  Unwinner            W  L   Winner              W  L
 4-16-1916     STL A  CHI A  Carl Weilman       17 18   Eddie Plank        16 15   
 5- 7-1916     CLE A  CHI A  Fritz Coumbe        7  5   Willie Mitchell     9 10   v
 5-30-1916(1)  CHI A  DET A  Lefty Williams     13  7   Reb Russell        18 11   v
 6- 4-1916     CHI A  NY  A  Reb Russell        18 11   Red Faber          17  9   
 6-11-1916     CHI A  WAS A  Jim Scott           7 14   Reb Russell        18 11   
 6-18-1916     BOS A  CHI A  Ernie Shore        16 10   Carl Mays          18 13   v
 6-22-1916     CLE A  DET A  Stan Coveleski     15 13   Fritz Coumbe        7  5   v
 8-14-1916     WAS A  BOS A  Bert Gallia        17 13   Joe Boehling       11 15   v
 9- 1-1916     BOS N  NY  N  Pat Ragan           9  9   Tom Hughes         16  3   
 9-17-1916     CLE A  NY  A  Pop-boy Smith       1  2   Joe Boehling       11 15   
 9-21-1916     NY  A  STL A  Urban Shocker       4  3   Bob Shawkey        24 14   v
 9-24-1916     CLE A  BOS A  Joe Boehling       11 15   Jim Bagby          16 17   h
 9-28-1919     DET A  CHI A  Doc Ayers           5  9   Slim Love           6  4   v
 8-14-1923(2)  CHI N  BOS N  Vic Keen           12  8   Nick Dumovich       3  5   
 9- 7-1923     DET A  CLE A  Hooks Dauss        21 13   Ray Francis         5  8   v
 8-13-1925     STL A  PHI A  Milt Gaston        15 14   Elam Vangilder     14  8   v
 8- 2-1927(2)  CIN N  BRO N  Ray Kolp            3  3   Dolf Luque         13 12   
 7-28-1928(1)  WAS A  CHI A  Lloyd Brown         4  4   Firpo Marberry     13 13   v
 6-13-1930     CIN N  BRO N  Jakie May           3 11   Archie Campbell     2  4   f
 4-25-1933     CIN N  CHI N  Benny Frey          6  4   Ray Kolp            6  9   h
 7-13-1933     PHI N  CIN N  John Jackson        2  2   Phil Collins        8 13   
 8- 6-1933(2)  NY  N  BRO N  Roy Parmelee       13  8   Dolf Luque          8  2   
 7- 8-1934(1)  PIT N  CHI N  Larry French       12 18   Ralph Birkofer     11 12   v
 8-21-1936     DET A  CHI A  Schoolboy Rowe     19 10   Roxie Lawson        8  6   
 5-13-1940     BRO N  PHI N  Hugh Casey         11  8   Vito Tamulis        8  5   h
 8-26-1941(1)  NY  N  CIN N  Bill McGee          2 10   Hal Schumacher     12 10   
 8-18-1944     PHI A  STL A  Don Black          10 12   Joe Berry          10  8   h
 4-20-1948     BRO N  NY  N  Rex Barney         15 13   Hugh Casey          3  0   v

v - visiting team went ahead for good when pitcher was removed for a pinch-hitter.
h - home team went ahead for good when pitcher was removed for a pinch-hitter.
f - first major league win

So what can we say about these lists? Well, I noticed one thing immediately: a LOT of these games (24 of 59) took place in 1916. And the overwhelming majority of those (20 of 24) involved American League teams. Much of this had to do with Ban Johnson's opinion of pitching wins and losses, but he had pretty much the same opinion in 1917, and that year had exactly zero of these questionable wins. I'm not sure why there is such a big difference between 1916 and 1917.

There were other clusters of note. In the second half of September 1916, there were five questionable win assignments during Cleveland Indians' games. And three of those involved Pop-boy Smith. He made his season debut on September 15th, entering a tie game in the top of the eighth inning and holding the Athletics scoreless until he could knock in the winning run with one out in the bottom of the ninth. So who got credit for the victory? Ken Penner, the starting pitcher. Two days later, he made his first start of the season, leaving the game in the seventh, having squandered most (but not all) of what had once been a 9-1 lead. When Joe Boehling held the opposition scoreless in the eighth and ninth, he was rewarded with the 9-7 win. Smith's third appearance came on September 21st. He pitched well, but left the game after nine innings with the score tied at two. The Indians eventually won the game in the thirteenth, after Al Gould had pitched four scoreless innings. Who was credited with that win? Well, Smith of course.

So in each of his first three games of that season, Smith was either denied or given a victory because of the peculiar scoring practices of the day. But were they really so peculiar? What was the justification for those decisions? Well, in the first and third games, the feeling was that the pitcher who threw the most innings in the game, barring a large difference in their relative effectiveness, was most responsible for the team's victory and so should be rewarded with the win regardless of the timing of the run support. And in the second game, Boehling was rewarded for performing better in his two innings than Smith had in his six and a third.

In an 1982 article in "The National Pastime," Frank J. Williams discussed the scoring practices of the Deadball Era and came up with a set of eleven practices that were different than what we do today. Apart from the first practice (the starting pitcher didn't need to go five innings to get credit for the win), all of the rest fall into the same category: regardless of when each team took or lost the lead, the league officials were free to grant a win to the pitcher they felt was most responsible for the win and charge the loss to the pitcher who was most responsible for the loss.3

The last questionable win given to an American League starter came in 1928. The nine after that all occurred in the senior circuit, five of those involving the Cardinals. The last one occurred on June 27, 1934 and the beneficiary was Dizzy Dean. I must admit that one of the things I was looking for when I did this research were pitchers who either reached or were denied milestone wins due to these decisions. And if you scan the records of the winners and unwinners above, you'll see there was only one, but it was (as my mother used to say) a doozy.

Of course, there's no way to know how a different scoring decision would have altered the rest of the season (and that's one of the hazards of attempting to "correct" things like this), but I think it's safe to say that his distinction of being the last National League pitcher to win as many as thirty games in a season would have a rather large asterisk alongside it if this game had occurred in late September rather than June. As it was, it gave Dean his twelfth win of the season, and by the time he had racked up his thirtieth victory three months later, few still remembered this game.

By the way, the funny stuff officially stopped in 1950, when the rules committee outlined rules for determining wins and losses and decided to enforce them.

So much for the questionable winners. Here are the sore losers, pitchers who got tagged with the defeat in a game despite not giving up the final go-ahead run. Note: this won't flag games like Walter Johnson's loss that ended his 1912 winning streak, games in which inherited runners are charged against the pitcher who let them score and not the pitcher responsible for putting them on base in the first place.

This is a long list, and actually includes one game after the rules were clarified in 1950. I suspect that a few of the games below owe their appearance to errors in the box score events files, but I'm confident that the vast majority of them are legitimate.

 Game          Team   Oppon  Unloser             W  L   Loser               W  L
 4-21-1916     CHI A  DET A  Jim Scott           7 14   Dave Danforth       6  5   
 4-21-1916     WAS A  NY  A  Bert Gallia        17 13   George Dumont       2  3   
 4-27-1916     PHI A  WAS A  Elmer Myers        14 23   Rube Bressler       0  2   
 4-28-1916     PHI A  WAS A  Cap Crowell         0  5   Jack Nabors         1 20   
 4-29-1916     CLE A  DET A  Fritz Coumbe        7  5   Stan Coveleski     15 13   
 5- 2-1916     PHI N  BOS N  George Chalmers     1  4   Al Demaree         19 14   
 5- 9-1916     CIN N  CHI N  Al Schulz           8 19   Pete Schneider     10 19   
 5-13-1916     CHI A  BOS A  Reb Russell        18 11   Jim Scott           7 14   
 5-15-1916     DET A  WAS A  Jean Dubuc         10 10   Harry Coveleski    21 11   
 5-21-1916     CHI N  PHI N  George McConnell    4 12   Jimmy Lavender     10 14   
 5-22-1916     CHI N  PHI N  Tom Seaton          6  6   Claude Hendrix      8 16   
 6-10-1916     WAS A  CHI A  George Dumont       2  3   Jim Shaw            3  8   
 6-16-1916     BOS A  CHI A  Rube Foster        14  7   Vean Gregg          2  5   
 6-26-1916(1)  BRO N  NY  N  Sherry Smith       14 10   Duster Mails        0  1   
 6-26-1916(1)  PHI N  BOS N  Chief Bender        7  7   Eppa Rixey         22 10   
 6-28-1916(1)  CHI N  PIT N  Hippo Vaughn       17 15   Jimmy Lavender     10 14   
 7-10-1916     STL N  PHI N  Steamboat Williams  6  7   Hi Jasper           5  6   
 7-20-1916(1)  CHI A  WAS A  Reb Russell        18 11   Eddie Cicotte      15  7   
 7-23-1916     DET A  CHI A  George Cunningham   7 10   Jean Dubuc         10 10   
 8- 1-1916     NY  A  STL A  Allen Russell       6 10   George Mogridge     6 12   
 8- 3-1916     BOS A  STL A  Carl Mays          18 13   Dutch Leonard      18 12   
 8- 4-1916(2)  CHI A  WAS A  Joe Benz            9  5   Lefty Williams     13  7   
 8-13-1916     CHI A  DET A  Lefty Williams     13  7   Jim Scott           7 14   
 8-19-1916     STL A  WAS A  Ernie Koob         11  8   Earl Hamilton       6  9   
 8-22-1916(2)  PHI N  PIT N  George McQuillan    1  7   Chief Bender        7  7   
 8-23-1916     CHI A  NY  A  Red Faber          17  9   Reb Russell        18 11   
 9- 7-1916     CLE A  CHI A  Guy Morton         12  6   Jim Bagby          16 17   
 9-16-1916(1)  CHI N  PHI N  Paul Carter         2  2   Jimmy Lavender     10 14   
 9-30-1916(2)  WAS A  PHI A  Claude Thomas       1  2   Jim Shaw            3  8   
 4-19-1917     CHI A  STL A  Reb Russell        15  5   Jim Scott           6  7   
 5-22-1917     CHI N  PHI N  Vic Aldridge        6  6   Tom Seaton          5  4   
 5-26-1917     STL A  BOS A  Dave Davenport     17 17   Earl Hamilton       0  9   
 6- 5-1917     CLE A  BOS A  Guy Morton         10 10   Al Gould            4  4   
 6-18-1917(1)  CHI A  BOS A  Lefty Williams     17  8   Dave Danforth      11  6   
 7- 1-1917     PHI N  BRO N  Eppa Rixey         16 21   Jimmy Lavender      6  8   
 7- 2-1917     CHI N  CIN N  Tom Seaton          5  4   Mike Prendergast    3  6   
 7-12-1917(2)  NY  A  CHI A  Nick Cullop         5  9   Bob Shawkey        13 15   
 7-15-1917     CHI A  WAS A  Dave Danforth      11  6   Lefty Williams     17  8   
 7-18-1917(1)  BOS N  PIT N  Jesse Barnes       13 21   Lefty Tyler        14 12   
 7-20-1917     BOS A  CHI A  Herb Pennock        5  5   Rube Foster         8  7   
 7-30-1917     BOS N  CHI N  Pat Ragan           6  9   Frank Allen         3 10   
 8-11-1917     BRO N  CHI N  Jack Coombs         7 11   Rube Marquard      19 12   
 8-18-1917(1)  BOS A  CLE A  Herb Pennock        5  5   Dutch Leonard      16 17   
 8-18-1917(2)  CLE A  BOS A  Otis Lambeth        7  6   Guy Morton         10 10   
 8-27-1917     STL N  PHI N  Bill Doak          16 20   Oscar Horstmann     9  4   
 9-21-1917     PHI A  CLE A  Bullet Joe Bush    11 17   Rube Schauer        7 16   
 4-26-1918     STL N  CHI N  Red Ames            9 14   Bill Sherdel        6 12   
 5- 2-1918     CIN N  CHI N  Snipe Conley        2  0   Mike Regan          5  5   
 5- 7-1918     CIN N  STL N  Hod Eller          16 12   Rube Bressler       8  5   
 5- 8-1918     BOS A  WAS A  Carl Mays          21 13   Bullet Joe Bush    15 15   
 5- 8-1918     STL N  CIN N  Lee Meadows         8 14   Jakie May           5  6   
 6-24-1918     STL N  CHI N  Jakie May           5  6   Lee Meadows         8 14   
 7-16-1918     BOS N  STL N  Dick Rudolph        9 10   Pat Ragan           8 17   
 8- 8-1918     STL N  BOS N  Bill Doak           9 15   Bill Sherdel        6 12   
 4-28-1919     PHI N  BRO N  Mike Prendergast    0  1   Frank Woodward      9 14   
 5-15-1919     DET A  NY  A  Rudy Kallio         0  0   Willie Mitchell     1  2   
 5-20-1919     STL N  PHI N  Bill Sherdel        5  9   Marv Goodwin       11  9   
 5-31-1919     CLE A  CHI A  Guy Morton          9  9   Tom Phillips        3  2   
 6- 2-1919     STL N  CIN N  Jakie May           3 12   Lee Meadows        12 20   
 6-13-1919     NY  A  DET A  Jack Quinn         15 14   George Mogridge    10  9   
 7-12-1919     CHI A  BOS A  Dave Danforth       1  2   Dickey Kerr        13  7   
 7-25-1919     WAS A  PHI A  Ed Gill             1  1   Eric Erickson       6 13   
 7-25-1919     PHI N  BRO N  Brad Hogg           5 12   Gene Packard        6  8   
 9-15-1919     PHI N  CHI N  George Smith        5 13   Lee Meadows        12 20   
 5- 8-1920     STL A  DET A  Bill Burwell        6  4   Hod Leverette       0  2   
 6-19-1920     NY  A  CHI A  Jack Quinn         18 10   George Mogridge     5  9   
 6-22-1920     NY  N  CHI N  Jesse Barnes       20 15   Rube Benton         9 16   
 7-13-1920     PHI A  CLE A  Eddie Rommel        7  7   Dave Keefe          6  7   
 8- 4-1920     NY  A  CHI A  Rip Collins        14  8   George Mogridge     5  9   
 8-11-1920     WAS A  CHI A  Tom Zachary        15 16   Eric Erickson      12 16   
 9-19-1920     PHI A  CHI A  Scott Perry        11 25   Eddie Rommel        7  7   
 5-23-1921     CHI A  WAS A  Dickey Kerr        19 17   Lum Davenport       0  3   
 5-27-1921     STL A  CLE A  Bill Burwell        2  4   Dixie Davis        16 16   
 5-31-1921     CHI A  STL A  Shovel Hodge        6  8   Lum Davenport       0  3   
 6- 2-1922     CHI N  CIN N  Buck Freeman        0  1   Tony Kaufmann       7 13   
 6- 8-1922     CHI N  NY  N  George Stueland     9  4   Vic Aldridge       16 15   
 7-22-1922     CHI N  BRO N  Tiny Osborne        9  5   Virgil Cheeves     12 11   
 8- 4-1922(1)  NY  N  CHI N  Claude Jonnard      6  1   Hugh McQuillan     11 15   
 8-15-1922     BOS A  CHI A  Rip Collins        14 11   Herb Pennock       10 17   
 8-29-1922     DET A  CHI A  Ole Olsen           7  6   Red Oldham         10 13   
 9- 4-1922(1)  WAS A  PHI A  Walter Johnson     15 16   Ray Francis         7 18   
 9- 5-1922(2)  DET A  CHI A  Ole Olsen           7  6   Syl Johnson         7  3   
 9- 6-1922     CHI A  DET A  Lum Davenport       1  1   Charlie Robertson  14 15   
 9-18-1922(2)  PIT N  PHI N  Johnny Morrison    17 11   Earl Hamilton      11  7   
 5- 9-1923     PHI A  STL A  Rollie Naylor      12  7   Walt Kinney         0  1   
 6- 2-1923     PHI N  NY  N  Ralph Head          2  9   Bill Hubbell        1  6   
 6-29-1923     STL N  CHI N  Clyde Barfoot       3  3   Jesse Haines       20 13   
 7-12-1923     BOS N  STL N  Tim McNamara        3 13   Dick Rudolph        1  2   
 8-28-1923     DET A  WAS A  Herman Pillette    14 19   Ray Francis         5  8   
 9-14-1923     WAS A  DET A  Allen Russell      10  7   Tom Zachary        10 16   
 5-16-1924     CHI N  NY  N  Vic Keen           15 14   Sheriff Blake       6  6   
 7- 2-1924(1)  NY  A  PHI A  Waite Hoyt         18 13   Bullet Joe Bush    17 16   
 7- 6-1924     WAS A  NY  A  Firpo Marberry     11 12   John Martina        6  8   
 7- 8-1924     CHI N  BRO N  Elmer Jacobs       11 12   Vic Aldridge       15 12   
 9- 2-1924(2)  DET A  CHI A  Dutch Leonard       3  2   Lil Stoner         11 11   
 9-11-1924     PHI N  BRO N  Lefty Weinert       0  1   Hal Carlson         8 17   
 5-13-1925     STL N  BRO N  Bill Hallahan       1  0   Pea Ridge Day       2  4   
 6-18-1925     WAS A  STL A  Dutch Ruether      18  7   Firpo Marberry      9  5   
 6-23-1925     NY  A  WAS A  Urban Shocker      12 12   Alex Ferguson       9  5   
 7- 9-1925     CHI A  WAS A  Ted Lyons          21 11   Sarge Connally      6  7   
 7-17-1925     PHI N  CHI N  Johnny Couch        5  6   Jack Knight         7  6   
 4-29-1926     STL N  CHI N  Jesse Haines       13  4   Duster Mails        0  1   
 6-24-1926     CLE A  CHI A  Garland Buckeye     6  9   Dutch Levsen       16 13   
 7- 1-1926     DET A  CLE A  Augie Johns         6  4   Sam Gibson         12  9   
 8- 5-1926     BOS A  CHI A  Tony Welzer         4  3   Red Ruffing         6 15   
 9- 1-1926     PHI A  NY  A  Lefty Grove        13 13   Sam Gray           11 12   
 4-20-1927     NY  A  PHI A  Wilcy Moore        19  7   Urban Shocker      18  6   
 7-13-1927(2)  WAS A  DET A  Garland Braxton    10  9   Sloppy Thurston    13 13   
 8- 2-1927     WAS A  DET A  Walter Johnson      5  6   Garland Braxton    10  9   
 8-20-1927(1)  CHI N  BOS N  Hal Carlson        16 13   Charlie Root       26 15   
 4-28-1928     STL A  CHI A  Ernie Nevers        1  0   General Crowder    21  5   
 6-22-1928(1)  DET A  STL A  Lil Stoner          5  8   Vic Sorrell         8 11   
 6-26-1928(2)  PIT N  CHI N  Bill Burwell        1  0   Johnny Miljus       5  7   
 7-25-1928(2)  NY  A  DET A  Myles Thomas        1  0   Hank Johnson       14  9   
 7-26-1928(2)  NY  A  DET A  Hank Johnson       14  9   Wilcy Moore         4  4   
 8-25-1928(1)  PHI A  CHI A  Lefty Grove        24  8   Howard Ehmke        9  8   
 8-25-1928(1)  WAS A  CLE A  Sad Sam Jones      17  7   Firpo Marberry     13 13   
 5-15-1929     PHI A  DET A  Ossie Orwoll        0  2   Rube Walberg       18 11   
 6-10-1929     BOS N  CHI N  Bunny Hearn         2  0   Art Delaney         3  5   
 6-16-1929     PHI A  CLE A  Ossie Orwoll        0  2   Bill Shores        11  6   
 6-25-1929(2)  BOS N  PHI N  Art Delaney         3  5   Johnny Cooney       2  3   
 8-10-1929     CHI A  BOS A  Bob Weiland         2  4   Ed Walsh            6 11   
 9-24-1929     BRO N  PHI N  Johnny Morrison    13  7   Watty Clark        16 19   
 5-21-1930(1)  NY  A  PHI A  Hank Johnson       14 11   Roy Sherid         12 13   
 5-30-1930(2)  PHI N  BRO N  Harry Smythe        0  3   Ray Benge          11 15   
 7- 7-1930     PHI N  NY  N  Hap Collard         6 12   Snipe Hansen        0  7   
 7-23-1930     CHI N  NY  N  Bob Osborn         10  6   Sheriff Blake      10 14   
 9-16-1930     PIT N  PHI N  Jim Mosolf          0  0   Spades Wood         4  3   
 8- 5-1931     CIN N  CHI N  Si Johnson         11 19   Ray Kolp            4  9   
 8-12-1931(2)  NY  A  CLE A  Ed Wells            9  5   Hank Johnson       13  8   
 8-13-1931     BOS A  STL A  Jack Russell       10 18   Wilcy Moore        11 13   
 4-23-1932     CIN N  CHI N  Biff Wysong         1  0   Whitey Hilcher      0  3   
 5-19-1932     BRO N  PIT N  Jack Quinn          3  7   Joe Shaute          7  7   
 8-18-1932     BOS N  CHI N  Huck Betts         13 11   Socks Seibold       3 10   
 7-23-1933     BRO N  NY  N  Joe Shaute          3  4   Boom-Boom Beck     12 20   
 8-11-1935(1)  CIN N  PIT N  Si Johnson          5 11   Tony Freitas        5 10   
 4-30-1936     STL A  PHI A  Earl Caldwell       7 16   Sugar Cain         15 11   
 7- 9-1937     CIN N  STL N  Gene Schott         4 13   Lee Grissom        12 17   
 8-22-1937(2)  PIT N  STL N  Jim Weaver          8  5   Ed Brandt          11 10   
 8- 5-1938     DET A  BOS A  Harry Eisenstat     9  6   Tommy Bridges      13  9   
 8-25-1939     BOS A  CHI A  Lefty Grove        15  4   Emerson Dickman     8  3   
 5-30-1940(2)  NY  A  BOS A  Monte Pearson       7  5   Steve Sundra        4  6   
 6-14-1940     PIT N  NY  N  Ken Heintzelman     8  8   Bob Klinger         8 13   
 6-23-1940(1)  STL N  BOS N  Jack Russell        3  4   Carl Doyle          3  3   
 7-29-1940     DET A  PHI A  Al Benton           6 10   Fred Hutchinson     3  7   
 4-15-1941     WAS A  BOS A  Danny MacFayden     0  1   Sid Hudson         13 14   
 7-16-1942     BOS N  CIN N  Lefty Wallace       1  3   Tom Earley          6 11   
 7-20-1944(2)  PIT N  PHI N  Nick Strincevich   14  7   Xavier Rescigno    10  8   
 8-26-1944     CHI N  CIN N  Red Lynn            5  4   Paul Erickson       5  9   
 6-26-1946     CHI N  BOS N  Red Adams           0  1   Hank Wyse          14 12   
 4-18-1947     CIN N  PIT N  Clayton Lambert     0  0   Joe Beggs           3  6   
 9- 4-1947     PIT N  CIN N  Jim Bagby           5  4   Mel Queen           3  7   
 5- 9-1948(2)  BRO N  PIT N  Ralph Branca       14  9   Willie Ramsdell     4  4   
 5-19-1949     CIN N  NY  N  Johnny Vander Meer  5 10   Eddie Erautt        4 11   
 7- 6-1949     CHI N  CIN N  Monk Dubiel         6  9   Warren Hacker       5  8   
 8-28-1949(1)  CHI A  NY  A  Billy Pierce        7 15   Max Surkont         3  5   
 8- 5-1951(2)  PIT N  PHI N  Bill Werle          8  6   Ted Wilks           3  5   

Apart from documenting these decisions, there's not much more I have to say about them. I did want to do one more thing before wrapping this up. I thought it might be interesting to focus on 1916, the year with the most of these differences, and compare the official record of each pitcher with his record using the modern interpretation of wins and losses. In addition, I listed their record as shown in the 1917 Spalding Guide.

Here's the list for the AL:

Pitcher            Official   Modern   Spalding
Jim Bagby           16  17    16  16    16  17
Joe Benz             9   5     9   6     9   5
Joe Boehling        11  15    10  15    10  15
Bernie Boland       10   3    11   3    10   3
Rube Bressler        0   2     0   1     -   -
Eddie Cicotte       15   7    16   6    17   7
Fritz Coumbe         7   5     7   6     6   6
Harry Coveleski     21  11    22  10    23  10
Stan Coveleski      15  13    16  12    16  13
Cap Crowell          0   5     0   6     -   -
George Cunningham    7  10     7  11     7  11
Dave Danforth        6   5     6   4     5   5
Hooks Dauss         19  12    18  12    18  12
Jean Dubuc          10  10    10  10    10  10
George Dumont        2   3     2   3     2   2
Red Faber           17   9    16  10    17   9
Rube Foster         14   7    14   8    14   7
Bert Gallia         17  13    18  14    18  14
Al Gould             5   6     6   6     6   6
Vean Gregg           2   5     2   4     2   3
Bob Groom           13   9    13   9    13   9
Earl Hamilton        6   9     6   8     7   8
Bill James           8  12     7  12     7  12
Ernie Koob          11   8    12   9    11   9
Otis Lambeth         4   4     3   4     2   5
Dutch Leonard       18  12    18  11    18  12
Carl Mays           18  13    17  14    17  13
Willie Mitchell      9  10     8  10     8  10
George Mogridge      6  12     6  11     6  11
Guy Morton          12   6    12   7    12   6
Elmer Myers         14  23    14  24    15  23
Jack Nabors          1  20     1  19     1  19
Ken Penner           1   1     0   1     -   -
Eddie Plank         16  15    15  15    15  15
Allen Russell        6  10     6  11     6  11
Reb Russell         18  11    17  12    17  11
Jim Scott            7  14     9  13     8  12
Jim Shaw             3   8     3   6     3   5
Bob Shawkey         24  14    23  14    23  14
Urban Shocker        4   3     5   3     5   2
Ernie Shore         16  10    17  10    17   9
Pop-boy Smith        1   2     2   2     -   -
Claude Thomas        1   2     1   3     -   -
Carl Weilman        17  18    17  18    18  18
Lefty Williams      13   7    12   7    13   8

In order to get some idea which set, official or modern, came closest to matching what was listed in the Spalding Guide, I computed the total differences for each. The official totals differed from the Spalding Guide by 47 wins and losses; the modern totals, by 33.

Here's the list for the NL, without the Spalding column, since in every case they agreed with the official statistics.

Pitcher            Official   Modern
Red Ames            11  16    10  16
Chief Bender         7   7     7   7
Paul Carter          2   2     2   3
George Chalmers      1   4     1   5
Wheezer Dell         8   9     9   9
Al Demaree          19  14    19  13
Claude Hendrix       8  16     8  15
Tom Hughes          16   3    15   3
Hi Jasper            5   6     5   5
Jimmy Lavender      10  14    11  11
Duster Mails         0   1     0   0
George McConnell     4  12     4  13
George McQuillan     1   7     1   8
Lee Meadows         12  23    13  23
Pat Ragan            9   9    10   9
Eppa Rixey          22  10    22   9
Pete Schneider      10  19    10  18
Al Schulz            8  19     8  20
Tom Seaton           6   6     5   7
Sherry Smith        14  10    13  11
Hippo Vaughn        17  15    17  16
Steamboat Williams   6   7     6   8

Despite the fact that there were far more differences in the AL, an NL hurler, Jimmy Lavender, would have been most affected by a more modern view of wins and losses. By adding a win and subtracting three losses, his 10-14 mark would have become an even 11-11.

And finally, I would like to make it clear that I am not advocating that we go back and modernize these statistics. There are some mistakes here to be sure, but where the decisions made by the scorers and (in case of the AL from 1913 to 1919) researchers reflect common practices of the day, they should be left alone. That doesn't mean we can't attempt to discover what their marks would have been under modern rules, only that we shouldn't rewrite the history of the period by changing the historical record.

Notes:

1"1917 Spalding Official Baseball Guide," John B. Foster, editor. (New York, American Sports Publishing Co., 1917), Pages 38-39.

2"Sporting Facts and Fancies," Joe S. Jackson. The Washington Post. August 28, 1912. Page 8.

3"All the Record Books Are Wrong," Frank J. Williams. "The National Pastime" (Cooperstown, New York, The Society For American Baseball Research, 1982), Pages 50-62.