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The Saddest Nickname Ever: Hugh “Losing Pitcher” Mulcahy

August 30, 2011

One of our followers on facebook, Frank Trimborn, made me aware of Hugh Mulcahy, a Phillie with the saddest (and perhaps most unfair) nickname ever. Thanks, Frank. If any of our readers have anything you’d like to see us write about, please just let us know on our facebook page. We are always looking for interesting local sports history stories. I’m glad Frank pointed me in the direction of this one. It made me aware of a man who at first glance seemed to be little more than a hard luck pitcher with a funny nickname. But like most stories, it was a bit more complex than that. He turned out to be a class act and an American hero. 

It is quite easy for me to name the hardest luck pitcher of my lifetime. His name was Anthony Young, and despite a very respectable 3.89 career ERA (to put that into perspective, Cliff Lee’s career ERA is a slightly better 3.72), he could not win a game to save his life. He racked up 27 straight losses for the New York Mets in the early 1990s. If you think the Phils won’t score for Cole Hamels, you should have seen the inept Mets rack up zeroes on the scoreboard for Anthony Young. In 1993, they averaged a pathetic 2.09 runs per game that Young started. He was sent to the Cubs, but couldn’t shake the loser tag, and despite a solid ERA  he was out of baseball in 1996, finishing with a record of 15-48.

But Phillie fans in their 70s and 80s remember a pitcher who was every bit as snakebit as poor Mr. Young. His name was Hugh Mulcahy, and he was the losing pitcher in so many starts that he acquired that awful, unfair nickname: “Losing Pitcher” Mulcahy. Never mind that he played with a group of misfits better suited for Keystone Cops than for a baseball diamond, a team that lost over 100 games every year for the 3 straight years that Mulcahy started every 4th day. Never mind that the Phils owner, Gerry Nugent, sold off all the talent the Phils had in the late 1930s, leaving them with a shell of a team that really, honestly, shouldn’t have played in the Major Leagues. And never mind that, as sabermetrics have made us aware, the Win is a fairly useless statistic to determine a player’s value. Nope, Hugh Mulcahy couldn’t win for losing, a fact that was driven home with that brutally unfair nickname.

Of course, it shouldn’t have taken a sabermetrician to tell  you that wins were useless after Mulcahy’s 1940 season. He went 13-22, despite a 3.60 ERA (compare that to Zach Greinke of the Brewers, who this year has a 13-5 record and a 4.05 ERA). Despite the 22 losses, in his final game of the 1940 season he threw a 4-hit shutout, and it was obvious that this was a pitcher entering his prime. There is little doubt that he was poised to shed that awful nickname.

He never got the chance. Still snakebit, he was the very first major leaguer drafted by the Army, costing him the 1941 season. He was discharged on December 5th, 1941, then was back in fatigues 48 hours later. By the time the war ended and he returned to the majors in 1945, dysentery had cost him 35 pounds and the zip on his fastball, and he was out of the majors by 1947. He ended his career with a 45-89 record. After retiring from baseball, he became a coach and scout for the White Sox, working in baseball for another 30 years. And despite his cruel nickname, he had no regrets, and a remarkable sense of perspective. This from a baseball prospectus piece from John Perrotto:

Mulcahy had an easy laugh and could joke about his nickname. “You know, in sports, somebody’s gotta win and somebody’s gotta lose,” he said. “Well, I was the guy who always lost.”

And as far as the war taking away his prime?

“I don’t look back on it with any anger or bitterness,” Mulcahy said. “Our country was at war, and that was more important than baseball. There were a lot of guys who had their career interrupted because of the war. You didn’t think twice about it, though, because you doing your duty by serving your country. A lot of guys went to the war and didn’t come back. I came back and had a long career in baseball. I feel I was fortunate, not cheated.

Hugh Mulcahy was not blessed with much run support, but he was blessed with a long life. He died in Aliquippa, PA in 2001 at age 88.

RELATED: Steve Wulf wrote about Mulcahy in this 1979 piece in Sports Illustrated.




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Size Charts

Select your brand and style to read more about how your purchase will fit:

American Needle fitted hats | '47 Brand hats | '47 Brand apparel | Majestic apparel | Majestic jerseys | Red Jacket apparel | Junk Food apparel | Next Level apparel (Shibe Originals)

Use these tips as a general guide when finding your measurements:

 

American Needle Fitted Hats

If you do not know your size, first determine where on your head you want to wear your hat. Usually it is worn about a half-inch to an inch above the eyebrows and/or just above the ears. Have a friend hold the tape measure (cloth, plastic, or download a printable version here) at the point where you want the hat to rest on your head.  Insert the tip of your little finger between the tape and your head.  Record the measurement and find your Fitted Hat size using the chart below.  This should provide you with a comfortable fit.

 

'47 Brand Hats

 

47 Brand Adjustable Hats Size Chart Size Hat Size Circumference (cm)
Adjustable Hats Men's 6 7/8 - 7 5/8 55 - 61
Women's 6 5/8 - 7 1/4 53 - 58
Youth 6 5/8 - 7 1/8 53 - 57

 

47 Brand Fitted Hats Size Chart Size Hat Size Circumference (cm)
Fitted Hats XX Small 6 1/2 - 6 5/8 52 - 53
X Small 6 3/4 54
Small 6 7/8 - 7 55 - 56
Medium 7 - 7 1/8 56 - 57
Large 7 1/4 58
X Large 7 3/8 - 7 5/8 59 - 61
XX Large 7 5/8 - 7 3/4 61 - 62
XXX Large 7 7/8 63
XXXX Large 8 64
XXXXX Large 8 1/8 65

 

47 Brand Stretch Fit Hats Size Chart Size Hat Size Circumference (cm)
Stretch Fit Fitted Hats Youth 6 1/2 - 6 5/8 52 - 53
Small / Medium 6 7/8 - 7 55 - 56
Medium / Large 7 1/8 - 7 3/8 57 - 59
Large / X Large 7 1/2 - 7 5/8 60 - 61
One Size Fits All 7 - 7 1/2 56 - 60

 

47 Brand Knit Hats Size Chart Hat Size Circumference (cm)
Knit Hats Youth 6 1/2 - 6 3/4 52 - 54
One Size Fits All 6 7/8 - 7 1/2 55 - 60

 

'47 Brand Apparel

 

 
47 Brand Men's Size Chart S M L XL XXL
Neck 14"-14.5" 15"-15.5" 16"-16.5" 17"-17.5" 18"-18.5"
Shoulder 21" 22" 23" 24" 25"
Chest 36"-38" 39"-41" 42"-44" 45"-47" 48"-50"
Waist 28"-30" 31"-33" 34"-36" 37"-39" 40"-42"

 

47 Brand Women's Size Chart S M L XL
Size 2-4 6-8 8-10 10-12
Shoulder 14.25" 15.25" 16.25" 17.25"
Bust 32"-34" 35"-36" 37"-38" 39"-42"
Waist 26"-27" 28"-29" 30"-31" 32"-33"

 

 

Majestic apparel

Men's Sizing (measurements in inches)
  S M L XL XXL 3XL 4XL
Chest 34-36 38-40 42-44 46-48 52-52 54-56 58-60
Waist 28-30 32-34 36-38 40-42 44-46 48-50 52-54
Hip 34-36 38-40 42-44 46-48 50-52 54-56 58-60
Sleeve 32-33 33-34 34-35 35-36 36-36 1/2 36 1/2-37 37-37 1/2
Neck 14-14 1/2 15-15 1/2 16-16 1/2 17-17 1/2 18-18 1/2 19-19 1/2 20-20 1/2

 

Women's Sizing (measurements in inches)
  XS S M L XL 1X 2X
Size 0-2 4-6 8-10 12-14 16-18 16W-18W 20W-22W
Chest 32-33 34-35 36-37 38-40 41 1/2-43 1/2 43-45 47-49
Waist 24-25 26-27 28-29 30-32 33 1/2-35 1/2 36-38 39-41
Hip 34 1/2-35 1/2 36 1/2-37 1/2 38 1/2-39 1/2 40 1/2-42 1/2 44-46 46-48 49-51
Sleeve 29 1/4 30 30 3/4 31 1/2 32 32 1/2 33

 

Youth Sizing (measurements in inches)
  S M L XL XXL 3XL
Size 6-8 10-12 14-16 18-20 20 22
Chest 24-26 28-30 32-34 36-38    
Waist 21-23 25-27 29-31 33-35 37-39 40-42

 

 

 

Majestic Jerseys

Adult Men's Replica Jersey Sizing  
Jersey Size Small Medium Large X Large XX Large
Neck (diameter of neck) 6.5 6.75 7 7.25 7.5
Chest (underarm to underarm) 20 1/2 22 1/2 24 1/2 26 1/2 28 1/2
Sleeve (back of inside neck to end of middle sleeve) 8 1/2 8 3/4 9 9 1/4 9 1/2

 

Apparel Sizing Tips:

Use these tips as a general guide when finding your measurements:

Chest/Bust: With your arms at your sides, measure around the fullest part of your chest, across shoulder blades and under arms.

Waist: To measure your natural waistline, wrap the tape so it intersects your navel. Keep tape flat, but comfortably loose.

Hips: Stand with your heels together and measure the fullest part of your hips. Make sure the measuring tape is level all the way around your body.

Inseam: Stand up straight, and start the tape measure high in your crotch. Straighten the tape down the inside of your leg to the bottom of your ankle.

 

 

Red Jacket apparel

 

 

Junk Food apparel

 

Next Level apparel (Shibe Originals)

General Size Neck
(in inches)
Chest
(in inches)
Waist
(in inches)
Arm
(in inches)
Small 14-14.5 34-36 28-30 31.5-32
Medium 15-15.5 38-40 32-34 32.5-33
Large 16-16.5 42-44 36-38 33.5-34
X-Large 17-17.5 46-48 40-42 34.5-35
XX-Large 18 – 18.5 50-52 44-46 35.5-36