August 24, 1906: Reds starting pitcher Jake Weimer pitches a seven-inning no-hitter as the Reds beat the Brooklyn Superbas, 1-0. The no-hitter comes in the second game of a double header as the Superbas won the first game, 6-4.
Weimer was a three-time 20-game winner, twice with the Cubs and once with the Reds. Weimer, nicknamed “Tornado Jake,” made his major league debut at age 29 and played parts of seven major league seasons. As a rookie with the Cubs Weimer went 20-8 with a 2.30 ERA. Weimer’s ERA’s successively were 2.30, 1.91, 2.26, 2.22, 2.41, and 2.39. With the Reds, in 1906, Weimer was 20-14 with the 2.22 ERA. From baseball-reference.com’s bullpen:
“Tornado Jake Weimer has one of the lowest ERA’s in major league history. In seven seasons in the majors, he posted a 2.23 ERA, twelfth-best of all time. He also won 20 games three times.
According to an article in the July 12, 1908 New York Times, when Weimer was traded from Cincinnati to New York, he refused to report unless he was paid half of the money involved in the deal. He said that otherwise he would leave baseball and go into business with his father-in-law in Chicago.”
The Reds acquired Weimer from the Chicago Cubs before the 1906 season for third baseman Harry Steinfeldt and reserve outfielder Jimmy Sebring. It was definitely an example of trading value for value. The Cubs needed a third baseman and Steinfeldt responded by leading the league in hits and rbi for a Cubs National League Championship team. The 1906 Cubs were one of the best teams ever, finishing the season 116-36 before losing in the World Series to the Chicago White Sox in six games. (This Cubs team was that of the famous Tinker-Evers-Chance poem–Steinfeldt is the missing infielder.)
The Reds’ offense tanked in 1906, though, and the team went from 79-74 in 1905 to 64-87 in 1906, a full 51 1/2 games behind the Cubs. The Reds’ offense had team OPS+ of 86 and even Cy Seymour who had nearly won the Triple Crown the year before slumped at the plate and he was dealt mid-season.
I don’t know what came of Weimer’s request for part of the money when the Reds dealt him away. The Reds traded Weimer and .109 batting utility man Dave Brain to the New York Giants for Bob Spade and $5000. The Reds definitely won this transaction. Weimer pitched three innings for the Giants and never pitched in the majors again and Brain went 3-17 in 11 games and was done. Spade won 17 games for the Reds in 1907 and 24 games total in four seasons. Keeping things in perspective, Spade’s 2.74 ERA was less than average as indicated by the 84 ERA+ figure.
Weimer 2.31 ERA is third on the Reds all-time list, a list dominated by turn of the 20th Century pitchers when defense was poor and there were lots of errors leading to unearned runs. Andy Coakley (1907-08) holds the Reds career ERA record 2.11. His lowest ERA was 1.86 in 1908 when he went 8-18 for the Reds. Second is Fred Toney (2.18 from 1915-18), third is Dutch Reuther (1917-20) at 2.26, fourth is Weimer, and fifth is Weimer’s teammate, Bob Ewing with a 2.37 from 1902-10. The first pitcher past 1920 is reliever John Franco with a 2.49 from 1984-89. The first starting pitcher from post-1920 is Jose Rijo who is 15th at 2.83 from 1988-95, and 2001-02.