He was the Sandy Koufax of his day. He was sensational on the
mound, dominating the opposition in nearly every outing. His
fastball was the best. He was the strikeout king.
Also like Koufax - the great Dodger pitcher who had no peers
when he dominated baseball in the 1960s - this pitcher's career
was cut short because of a sore arm.
Newspaper articles referred to this Cincinnati Reds pitcher at the turn of the century as "The
Great Hahn." His name was Frank G. Hahn, but to baseball fans 80
years ago he was simply "Noodles."
For six years, 1899-1904, Hahn was as good as, if not better
than, many of the pitchers who would go on to gain Hall of Fame
status - Jack Chesbro, Cy Young, Rube Waddell and Christy
When he was a 20-year-old rookie in
1899, Hahn won 23 games.
In 1900 at age 21, he pitched a no-hitter against Philadelphia.
In 1901 the Reds finished in last place, but Hahn, 22, won 22 games. He had 233 strikeouts, the
most in the National League, and he completed 41 of the 42 games
In one 14-inning game that season, he struck out 16 batters, a
Reds record that stood until Jim Maloney tied it in 1963 and
then broke it a year later. It was also a league mark that stood
until Dizzy Dean struck out 17 hitters in 1933.
22 games in each of the next
two years, 1902 and 1903.
In 1904 Hahn's victory total dropped to 16 and he began playing
around with a new pitch. The experiment was disastrous. His
first choice in 1905 was a spitball. When it was legal, the
pitch was an effective weapon for many pitchers. When thrown correctly,
the ball would drop suddenly when it reached the plate.
For Hahn, that pitch was the wrong choice. The first time he
threw the pitch, he felt something snap in his strong left arm.
The once lively left arm went limp and it began aching almost
He tried to pitch, but the pain was almost unbearable. He worked
in only 13 games and pitched just 77 innings. The golden arm was
dead. At the "ripe old" age of 26,
the Reds released their one-time sure-fire winner.
Hahn tried to come back the following year, signing with the New
York American League club, but after six games he called it
quits and returned to Cincinnati where be became a government
Even though his playing days were finished, Hahn was a fixture
at the Cincinnati ballpark. He pitched batting practice and
enjoyed suiting up. He was still doing this at age 61 in 1940.
Noodles Hahn will never make the Hall of Fame, but for six
years, when he won 121 games, major league baseball had a