Phenomenal Smith: The man who is credited with finding one of the most beloved pitchers of all time!
(photo contributed by mancavepictures.com / 1904 Christy Mathewson)
Who is Phenomenal Smith you might ask? Well, certainly not a well-known name to most avid baseball fans of today, but a common question I'm sure most here are scratching their heads and asking themselves.
According to Wikipedia, "John Francis "Phenomenal" Smith was born as John Francis Gammon on December 12, 1864 and died at the age of 87 on April 3, 1952. was an American professional baseball player and player-manager from 1884 to 1905. He played eight seasons in Major League Baseball, principally as a pitcher for six different clubs. In his eight seasons in the major leagues, Smith appeared as a pitcher in 140 games and compiled a 54–74 (.422) win-loss record with a 3.89 ERA and 519 strikeouts. He saw his most extensive playing time with the Baltimore Orioles of the American Association, compiling a 41–50 win-loss record during the 1887 and 1888 seasons. Smith later served as a player-manager in the minor leagues from the early 1890s through 1905. He was credited with discovering Christy Mathewson in 1899 and developing him into an outstanding pitcher during the 1900 season. The rest as they say, is history! And the irony is that the man who discovered and gave baseball one of its greatest pitchers of all-time and whose name is renowned throughout baseball history, is himself as obscure a name that you most likely, like myself, never heard of. Yet without his influence, we may never have known who Christy Mathewson is!