Doak used saliva to wet the baseball and he was very good at making the sphere do what he wanted. He won 19 games and led the National League in ERA in his first full season, with the St. Louis Cardinals in 1914. The lanky right-hander from Pittsburgh spent 13 seasons with the Cardinals, winning 144 games for them and garnering two ERA titles. Playing so many years in St. Louis, Doak became quite acquainted with the Rawlings Company, who made many of the gloves used in the majors. In 1919 Doak suggested some improvements to his glove and as a result his model was the most used glove in MLB for decades.
Did you know?
Doak only trails Bob Gibson for most shutouts thrown by a Cardinal pitcher. He tossed 34, seven of them in his stellar 1914 season.
The outlawing of the Spitball
The Major League Baseball Rules Committee banned the use of the spitball after the 1920 season, though they allowed 17 pitchers to be grandfathered in and use the pitch for the remainder of their careers. Those 17 pitchers were deemed to rely so much on the spitter that to ban them form using it would curtail or end their careers.
Pitchers allowed to continue to use the Spitball in rule change of 1920
Shufflin’ Phil Douglas
It’s not completely true that the spitball was banned solely because Ray Chapman was killed by such a pitch thrown by Carl Mays in 1920. It was a factor, but the previous winter, after the 1919 season, pressure from some team owners had resulted in each club designating just two pitchers who could legally throw the pitch in 1920. Mays was one of those selected by the Yankees to be able to do so. After Chapman was hit in the head with a ball darkened by Mays’ tobacco juice, the end of the spitball was inevitable.
It should be noted that the spitball was a very effective pitch, quite obviously. It gave the pitcher a decided advantage, as is evidenced by the number of pitchers who relied on it having great success in their careers. At least five pitchers who threw excellent spitters are in the Hall of Fame: Ed Walsh, Stan Coveleski, Red Faber,†Burleigh Grimes, and Gaylord Perry. Some have also accused Whitey Ford of throwing it quite a bit. Of the 17 pitchers who were allowed to keep throwing it after the ’21 season – essentially the pitchers who made a living off the pitch – many of them had very long and successful careers. In addition to Hall of Famers Grimes, Faber, and Coveleski, Urban Shocker won 187 games and won consistently despite being on mediocre clubs. Jack Quinn threw a spitball in competitive leagues for three decades, winning 247 games in the majors. Doak, Fisher, and Douglas were all very good pitchers too.