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Pud Galvin’s Amazing Series at Detroit in August 1884

By: Brian Frank

After Jake Arrieta’s no-hitter on April 21, 2016, Twitter was abuzz discussing the fact that the Cubs 16-0 win over Cincinnati was the second most lopsided no-hitter score of all-time. The largest margin of victory in a no-hitter still belongs to Pud Galvin and the Buffalo Bisons, when they defeated the Detroit Wolverines 18-0 on August 4, 1884. The Bisons played in the emerging National League at the time.

When you start to look at the numbers that James “Pud” Galvin put up in his career, they are mind-boggling. He won 365 games in the major leagues, which is sixth all-time behind only Cy Young (511), Walter Johnson (417), Grover Cleveland Alexander (373), and Christy Mathewson (373). He is also second all-time in innings pitched, with 6003.1 (second only to Cy Young at 7,356,) and second in complete games with 646 (second to Cy Young’s 749.) Galvin pitched for the Bisons from 1878 to 1885.

James "Pud" Galvin

In 1878, the Bisons were members of the International Association, which is now considered a minor league by baseball historians. Galvin pitched in 101 of Buffalo’s 106 games in 1878, and he compiled a record of 72-25-3. He pitched about 900 innings that year, with 96 complete games, and 17 shutouts. During a time when it was common for National League teams to play teams from other leagues, Galvin defeated every single team in the N.L. that season, going 10-5 against teams in the Senior Circuit. During a three day stretch in October, Galvin defeated Boston (N.L.) pitching twelve innings, Providence (N.L.) in 13 innings, and then lost to Boston on the third day (with a sore arm.)[1] Galvin helped pave the way for Buffalo to join the N.L. in 1879.[2]

In 1879, Galvin started 66 games for the National League Bisons and completed 65 of them. He threw 593 innings, and finished with a record of 37-27, with a 2.28 ERA. He continued to rack up astonishing numbers through 1880-1882, including a no-hitter against Worcester (of the N.L.) in 1880. In 1883, he led the N.L. in games started (75), complete games (72), shutouts (5), and innings pitched (656.1). He finished the season with a 46-29 record and a 2.72 ERA. In 1884, the year he threw his 18-0 no-hitter at Detroit, he again won 46 games, with a measly 1.99 ERA, in 636 innings pitched, while leading the league in shutouts (12).

After struggling a bit in an injury riddled 1885, going 13-19 with a 4.09 ERA, he was sold mid-season to the Pittsburgh Alleghenys of the American Association. He went on to win 153 more major league games, and became the first pitcher ever to win 300 games. Galvin entered the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1965. [3]

The numbers Galvin accumulated in his career are astonishing, but perhaps the best week of his amazing major league career was sandwiched around the 18-0 no hitter against the Detroit Wolverines. Let’s look at his week in Detroit game by game.

Saturday, August 2, 1884 Buffalo Bisons 2 Detroit Wolverines 0

Galvin threw a complete game one hit shutout, striking out seven, with no walks against the Detroit Wolverines, winning 2-0. Jack Rowe and future National Baseball Hall of Famer Dan Brouthers homered for the Bisons, in a time when home runs were not at all common (John Reilly of Cincinnati led the league with 11.)

Monday, August 4, 1884 Buffalo Bisons 18 Detroit Wolverines 0

The Buffalo Express stated that Galvin was more “penurious” than the previous game, as he no-hit the Wolverines while striking out nine with no walks, just two days after throwing a one-hitter against the Wolverines.[4] Galvin also went 2-5 at the plate with a double and two runs scored. This was Galvin’s second career no-hitter.

Tuesday, August 5, 1884 Rained Out

Wednesday, August 6, 1884 Rained Out

Thursday, August 7, 1884 Buffalo Bisons 9 Detroit Wolverines 0

Galvin pitched another complete game shutout, three days after pitching a no-hitter and five days after pitching a one-hitter. He allowed only three hits, struck out six Detroit batters and once again did not walk anyone.

Friday, August 8, 1884 Detroit Wolverines 1 Buffalo Bisons 0, in 12 innings.

Detroit and Buffalo played a doubleheader on a cold day with only about 300 fans in attendance. Galvin pitched the second game of the twin bill. Billy Serad pitched the first game for the Bisons, which Buffalo won 14-2.

In the second game, Detroit finally got a run off of “Gentle Jeems,” but it took them 12 innings to do it. Galvin pitched all 12 innings, the day after throwing a nine inning complete game shutout. He gave up eight hits and struck out ten.[5] The run that Detroit managed to score in the 12th inning was the result of an error on a bad throw by right fielder Jim Lillie.

There you have it. Six days, 39 innings, only 12 hits, one unearned run and 32 strikeouts. Many baseball historians regard Christy Mathewson throwing three shutouts in six days during the 1905 World Series as one of the greatest series of games by a pitcher, but Galvin’s week in Detroit certainly has to make the short list as one of the greatest weeks ever by a major league hurler.


[1] Joseph M. Overfield, The 100 Seasons of Buffalo Baseball: Partners’ Press, 1985.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Some know Galvin as the first player to admit to using a performance enhancing drug, since he admitted to using Brown-Sequard elixir, before a game in the 1889 season. There is only evidence that Galvin used the substance once, and modern science suggests that the substance he used would not actually affect his performance. Also, the use of a substance to allegedly help a player’s performance was viewed in a different light at the time, than it is by today’s standards. The press praised Galvin’s use of the substance, with the Washington Post calling his performance in the game “the best proof yet furnished of the value of the discovery.” Charles Hausberg, Pud Galvin, SABR Biography,

[4] Buffalo Express, Beat ‘Em Again, August 5, 1884.

[5] Some reports from the game say that Galvin had 15 or 16 strikeouts, however, the Buffalo Express box score from the following day states he had 10.

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