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#420 Jim Maloney


Condition: EX+, off-center but otherwise pretty crisp and trivia answer is not revealed.

Trivia question: “Which pitcher won 24 straight ballgames?”

Topps got this one right, and it’s still the correct answer. Carl Hubbell of the Giants won 24 consecutive decisions starting on July 17, 1936, and ending on May 27, 1937. He did have three no-decisions in there, but the Giants won those three games anyway.

Hubbell was a rare baseball lifer with one organization. He pitched for the Giants from 1928-43, then spent the next 45 years working for the team until his death in a car accident in 1988.

A few things about Jim Maloney:

* Maloney was one of the top pitchers of the ’60s who’s mostly forgotten now. If not for an Achilles injury in 1970 that basically ruined his career, he could potentially have been a Hall of Famer. Because of the devastating injury, he was unable to play for the Reds that dominated the N.L. in the 1970s. But from 1963 through 1969, he went 117-60 with a 125 ERA+, 29 shutouts and two no-hitters (plus a third that doesn’t technically count).

* Speaking of no-hitters, Maloney is one of only seven pitchers to throw a no-hitter against the Cubs. On August 19, 1965 he threw 10 no-hit innings at Wrigley Field and the Reds won 1-0. Maloney walked 10(!) but managed to not let any of them score. His other official no-hitter came on April 30, 1969, a 10-0 win over Houston.

* So what about the no-hitter that didn’t count? On June 14, 1965, Maloney threw 10 no-hit innings against the Mets but gave up a home run to lead off the 11th (and eventually gave up another hit) and he lost the game 1-0. He struck out 18 and walked just one, giving him a game score of 106 (one of the highest of all-time).

* Maloney was coming off a big year in 1963, in which he went 23-7 with a 2.77 ERA and 265 strikeouts in 250.1 innings. He followed it up in 1964 with an even-better 2.71 ERA (133 ERA+) but his record dipped to 15-10. By WAR, 1965 was his best season, and also his only all-star selection. He threw a career-high 255.1 innings, with a 2.54 ERA (148 ERA+) and only 6.7 H/9 allowed. That was good for an 8.2 pitching WAR, which was second in the N.L. behind Juan Marichal. Alas, Sandy Koufax with his 26 wins, 2.04 ERA and (then) major league-record 382 strikeouts swept all 20 Cy Young votes (somehow, Koufax’s WAR was 8.1).

* After his major Achilles injury in 1970, the Reds traded Maloney to the Angels for pitcher Greg Garrett, who appeared in two games in 1971 and never pitched in the majors again. Maloney himself pitched in 13 games (30.1) innings for California in 1971 and hung it up at the age of 31.

* As of August 2018 Maloney is still alive and reportedly lives in his hometown of Fresno, California. He’s currently 78 years old.

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