Adrian "Addie" Joss
Adrian "Addie" Joss was born April 12, 1880, in Wisconsin. When he was a teenager, he made a name for himself while pitching for amateur teams around his home state. He was an excellent student who studied journalism and played ball at the University of Wisconsin. In early 1900 a traveling salesman recommended Addie as pitcher to the manager of the Toledo Mud Hens, Bob Gilk, who signed the 19 year old to his first professional contract.(David Lee Fleitz, "One of Toledo's Winners. Toledo Biography Scrapbook).
In Toledo, Addie won nineteen games in 1900 and twenty five in 1901. Since he did not have a binding contract with the team, the Cleveland Club of the new American League paid the Mud Hens $500 for him. This was the beginning of a major-league career for Joss. The first game he pitched for Cleveland was on April 26, 1902 when he defeated the St. Louis Browns.(Ibid).
Playing for the Cleveland Naps (now called the Indians) from 1902 to 1910 gave Joss the reputation as being a premier pitcher in the American League's first decade. He won twenty plus games four seasons in a row, having 160 victories in his career. This included a perfect game, two no hitters, and three one hitters. He was only the fourth pitcher in major league baseball history to throw a perfect game.Ibid. Moreover, the 6'3" player had a great fastball that earned a run average of 1.88, pitching 45 shutouts and 2 no hitters and compiling a lifetime record of 160-97.(Toledo Blade, 1 February 1978.)
Addie finished 650 of his first 61 major league starts, walked only 370 batters in more than 2,200 innings, and was the finest fielding pitcher of his time. Ty Cobb, the Detroit star who is well known for his great batting record, faced Addie 73 times and managed only 17 safe hits. From 1905 to 1908, Addie helped win 92 games and the Naps (named for the Manager, Napoleon Lajoie) began to climb to the top of the American League standing. The best season for this right handed pitcher was in 1907 with 27 victories. Addie came close to winning the pennant, however, he was not successful in accomplishing this goal.(Fleitz, "One of Toledo's Winners.")
Addie Joss was named posthumously to the Baseball Hall of Fame in January 1978. He was not honored earlier because the Baseball Hall of Fame was founded in 1936 and only those individuals who performed at least ten years in the major leagues were deemed eligible for admission. Joss was one season short of that goal.Toledo Blade, 1 February 1978. (His son, Norman, fought his entire adult life to have that rule changed.) Addie was left out of the Hall until a special election in 1978 waived the ten year rule in his case. On August 16, 1978, 67 years after his death (and 6 months after the death of his son, Norman), Joss took his place in the Baseball Hall of Fame.(Fleitz, "One of Toledo's Winners.")
Joss's personal life included meeting and marrying his wife Lillian while he pitched for Toledo in the Western Association in 1900 and 1901. In 1902 they had a son, Norman, followed by a daughter, Ruth, in 1906. In the meantime, he used his training in journalism to write baseball stories, a column for the Toledo newspaper and the Sporting News. As a side interest Joss was member of the 32nd-degree Masons and an active member of the Mystic Shrine. He also owned a pool room in the St. Paul building in downtown Toledo and joined in singing with a quartet that toured the vaudeville circuit during the winter.(Ibid).
Although he participated in other activities, he was most noted for being a popular Toledo sports hero. His friend Brand Whitlock said this about him on June 25, 1907: "If I could pitch like Addie I'd not be an author or a mayor; I'd be in the box for Cleveland with the White Sox up in the air."(Toledo Blade, 1 February 1978).
Adrian Joss's career ended early when he died of tubercular meningitis. He passed away on April 14, 1911, only two days after his thirty-first birthday. He had a large funeral and evangelist Billy Sunday gave the eulogy. Following the death of her husband, Lillian Joss served as a Lucas County Juvenile Court probation officer for seventeen years as well as an adoption investigation officer with probate court. She passed away on September 10, 1955.(Ibid).
Adrian "Addie" Joss's grave
(Photography of Woodlawn Cemetery by Josef Schneider.)