Charles Benjamin “Babe” Adams (May 18, 1882 – July 27, 1968) was an American right-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball from 1906 to 1926 who spent nearly his entire career with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Noted for his outstanding location control, his career average of 1.29 walks per 9 innings pitched was the second lowest of the 20th century; his 1920 mark of 1 walk per 14.6 innings was a modern record until 2005. He shares the Pirates’ franchise record for career victories by a right-hander (194), and holds the team mark for career shutouts (47); from 1926 to 1962 he held the team record for career games pitched (481).
Babe Adams was born in Tipton, Indiana. He made his Major League debut on April 18, 1906 with the St. Louis Cardinals, taking the loss in a 4-inning start, but did not pitch again for them. In September 1907 his contract was sold to the Pirates, with whom he spent the remainder of his career. After going 12–3 with a 1.11 ERA in the 1909 regular season, his first full year, Adams became the star of the 1909 World Series after being named the surprise starter of Game 1 following a tip by National League president John Heydler that Adams’ style was similar to that of an AL pitcher against whom the Detroit Tigers had had difficulty. He won three complete game victories – each of them a six-hitter. With a shutout in Game 7, Adams became the first rookie in World Series history to start and win Game 7, which has only been repeated once in baseball history by John Lackey in 2002. He was also the only member of that team who would be on the Pirates’ World Series champions in 1925. He later won 20 games in both 1911 and 1913. An off year in 1916 that saw his ERA rise to 5.72 got him farmed out to the Western Association, but late in 1918 he found his stride again and rejoined the Pirates, where he stayed until 1926.
Babe Adams was known as an excellent control pitcher. On July 17, 1914, he pitched an entire 21-inning game against the New York Giants without allowing a single walk, surrendering only 12 hits, but losing 3–1 on Larry Doyle’s home run in the top of the 21st; it is the longest game without a walk in Major League history. Rube Marquard also went the distance for New York to gain the victory, allowing two walks. In 1920, Adams allowed only 18 walks in 263 innings.
In his career Adams won 194 games and lost 140. His ERA was 2.76. His last game was on August 11, 1926; he was released days later after joining a group of players who requested that former manager and team vice president Fred Clarke, who had been openly criticizing manager Bill McKechnie, not be permitted to sit on the bench. Adams later managed in the minor leagues, farmed in Mount Moriah, Missouri, and worked as a reporter and foreign correspondent during World War II and the Korean War. Adams died of throat cancer in Silver Spring, Maryland at age 86.
- May, 18, 1882
- Tipton, Indiana
- July, 27, 1968
- Silver Spring, Maryland
Cause of Death
- died of throat cancer
- Mount Moriah Cemetery
- Mount Moriah, Missouri