Ted Lyons was a hard-luck pitcher who won 260 games despite pitching for the Chicago White Sox, who posted a .447 winning percentage when he didn’t get the decision. After skipping the minor leagues to go directly to the majors, he won at least 10 games 17 times, and reached 20 victories on three occasions. Lyons began his career as a teammate of Eddie Collins, who started his career in 1906, and ended it as a teammate of Dave Philley, who retired in 1962. Lyons threw a no-hitter against the Red Sox on August 21, 1926.
Had Lyons been fortunate enough to pitch for the Yankees, Tigers, or even the Senators, he would have won 300 games. As it was, he accumulated 260 for a club that played at a .459 clip in his 20 full seasons. Lyons posted a 260-230 won/loss record for his 21 year career, which is okay, but not great. Yet a closer look at how he won those 260 games reveals that he was a winner on a slew of poor White Sox teams. Over his long career, Lyons won at a .531 pace, while the White Sox were .447 when someone else started the game. That makes him 19% better than his team, which is a better rate than Hall of Fame pitchers Red Faber, Carl Hubbell, Herb Pennock, Burleigh Grimes, Waite Hoyt, Red Ruffing, Warren Spahn, Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson, and Steve Carlton.
In the nightcap of a doubleheader between the White Sox and Senators that prompted the Washington Post to write, “the less said about the game the better,” Ted Lyons came within an out of recording a no-hit game. Chicago won the game easily, 17-0, banging out 25 hits overall, while scoring seven runs in the second inning and eight in the fifth. Lyons, the Post recorded, “had the home hitters breaking their backs in unavailing efforts to solve his delivery.” With two outs in the ninth, Washington outfielder Bobby Veach delivered a “clean liner-single to right field” to break up Lyons no-no. In a wild contest, Washington manager Bucky Harris used 21 players, including seven pinch-hitters, in an effort to stem the tide. After the game, an apologetic Veach visited Lyons in the visitors clubhouse. “I knew Ted would want to earn a no-hit game if he did it at all, so I did my best, but believe me,” Veach said, “I’m mighty sorry things turned out that way.”