Former Cincinnati Red, Walker Cress, apparently is the “biggest loser” of any player in baseball history at the start of his career. Cress went an entire season plus two games worth of appearances before appearing in a winning major league baseball game. The streak covered 32 pitching appearances. In his 33rd game, the Reds won, and Cress never appeared in another major league game after the Reds finally won with him in the game. Cress’s lifetime record was 0-1 with a 4.40 ERA.
Cress was a 31 year old rookie when he made his major league appearance on April 27, 1948. He pitched two innings of one-hit shutout relief in a 7-2 Reds loss to the Cubs in his major league appearance. He made 28 relief appearances (all Reds losses) his rookie year with no decisions and a 4.70 ERA. Finally, the Reds gave him a start in the first game of a doubleheader on September 26, but the Reds lost to the Pittsburgh Pirates, 8-6. Cress received no decision, working seven innings and allowing seven hits, six walks, and five runs. His next appearance was also a start against the Pirates and he went the distance, pitching a complete game, allowing six hits and two walks, and striking out seven, but losing 2-1. He gave up both runs with two outs in the top of the ninth inning. After pitching 8 2/3 innings of two-hit shut-out ball, Cress allowed four consecutive singles as the Pirates pushed across two runs. He finished the season 0-1 with a 4.50 ERA, and the Reds had been losers in every game he had played (all 30). As a hitter in his starts, he went 3-4 with a walk, a sacrifice bunt, and an rbi. The 1948 Reds finished the year 64-89 in seventh place of eight teams.
Cress pitched again in 1949, but for only three games. All three were relief appearances and he did not allow a run in two innings, but allowed two hits, walked three, and struck out no one. His first two appearances were again losses, but the Reds won the last game he pitched, an April 30, 1949, contest against the Pittsburgh Pirates (again). Cress pitched 2/3 of an inning that game, allowed one hit and one walk. The Reds won, 8-4, and it was Cress’s last major league game and ended the 32 game loss streak.
Cress had pitched in the minor leagues from 1939-47 and had only pitched two innings in AAA before pitching for the Reds in 1948. After pitching for the Reds in 1948 and early 1949 he returned to the minors and pitched through 1951 at age 34. His minor league record was 99-60 over nine seasons.
Scott Ruffcorn of the White Sox and Phillies (1993-97) is second on the list having appeared in 30 losses in a row to start his career.
The blog posting also lists links to the lowest WAR (wins above replacement) players in baseball history. The two worst rated hitters are former Reds catcher Bill Bergen and former Reds infielder Doug Flynn. Fourth worst is another former Reds infielder, Juan Castro. If it’s any consolation, Bergen and Flynn only spent three of their 11 major league seasons with the Reds, both at the start of their careers. Castro spent 8 of his 16 major league seasons (and still counting) with the Reds. Here’s the link to the bottom hitters’ list.
Here’s the link to the worst career pitchers in WAR. The lowest former Red is Kevin Jarvis, who played four of his 12 seasons with the Reds. Jarvis is 7th on the list. The next lowest Red is Dan McGinn, who pitched only 14 games in his five major league seasons a Red before being drafted by the Montreal Expos in the expansion draft. McGinn is 22nd on the list.