was alternately underhand and sidearm, and a curveball so formidable
that Dodger skipper Wilbert Robinson called Erskine "Eelskine" because the
sharp-breaking curve was "so slippery."
To accurately measure Mayer's accomplishment, one need only consider
that while he was winning twenty-one games for Philadelphia, the entire team could only
manage seventy wins for the entire season!
But however good Mayer was, he had the misfortune to be the pitching
partner - indeed, the roommate - of one of the greatest pitchers in the history of the
game. Immortal hurler Grover Cleveland "Pete" Alexander, later elected to the
Hall of Fame, toiled for the same hapless Phillie team, and Erskine was always in his
shadow. The fine righty was seemingly always surpassed by his great partner. "Every
time I pitched well, Alexander topped me," Erskine conceded.
In 1914, when Erskine won his twenty-one games, Pete won twenty-seven.
In 1915, Mayer had an even finer season. Again he won twenty-one, but this time lost only
fifteen. His E.R.A. was reduced to a paltry 2.36. But once again, his efforts were
outshone by Alexander, whose phenomenal season included thirty-one victories. Between the
two of them, they led the Phillies to the National League pennant, one of the few flags
the Phillies have ever won.
Ironically, one area in which Erskine far outstripped Alex was at the
plate. While Philadelphia's team batting average was a miserable .247, an historic low for
a pennant-winning team, Mayer cracked out twenty-one hits in forty-three games for a .239
average, including two doubles, a triple and a home run!