Charles Lucas, more commonly known as "Red," was a 5’9" right handed pitcher from Columbia, TN. Also sometimes called "the Nashville Narcissus," he posted a 36-26 record between the class "A" level Nashville Volunteers and the class "D" level Greenwood Indians and Jackson Red Sox in 1921 and 1922.
He made his major league debut just a week before his 21st birthday with the 1923 New York Giants. He earned a save by pitching the ninth inning of a 4-3 win over the Boston Braves. He totalled three games with the Giants, earning a flawless ERA even though he allowed nine hits and four walks in only 5.1 innings. Most of his season was spent in the class "A" Texas League, with the San Antonio Bears. He went 18-9 with a 4.05 earned run average.
In 1924, Lucas spent the whole season with the Boston Braves. He pitched 83.2 innings, allowing 112 hits and a 5.16 ERA with a 1-4 record. His suboptimal numbers landed him back in the minors in 1925, where he hit .386 in 55 games with the Seattle Indians in the AA Level Pacific Coast League. For his efforts, he graduated to the Major Leagues to stay starting in 1926.
Lucas played for eight seasons out of the Cincinnati Reds bullpen and rotation. He posted a 109-99 record with a 3.64 ERA. He also did pretty good for himself out of the batters box, hitting .300 in 977 at bats, with 42 doubles, 11 triples, three home runs, and 132 RBI. He was such an effective batsman that he was frequently called upon to pinch hit, leading the NL in pinch hits four times. He held the major league record with 114 pinch hits in 437 at bats until Smoky Burgess broke it in 1965 (found in SabrBio – check it out for a great read about Lucas). After the 1933 season, Lucas was traded with outfielder Wally Roettger to the Pirates for left fielder Adam Comorosky and infielder Tony Piet.
Lucas stepped right into the Pirates rotation upon joining the team in 1934. His best game was a 10-0 complete game win over the Reds on July 3rd. He allowed six hits and a walk, striking out six batters. He also went 1-for-3 at the plate with a walk and two runs. He went 10-9, 4.38 on the season, starting in 22 (and finishing 12) of his 29 appearances. He walked 40 batters in 172.2 innings. The Pirates finished just out of the first division at 74-76.
1935 would see Lucas finish eight of his 19 starts, posting an 8-6 record with a 3.44 ERA. On May 25th, he gave up the first of Babe Ruth’s three home runs (his 712th overall). They were the last three home runs of the Babe’s career. On August 17th, he earned a 2-0 complete game victory over the Philadelphia Phillies, allowing five hits and striking out five. Over the course of the season, he walked 23 batters in 125.2 innings, an average of 1.6 per game. The Pirates finished fourth in the NL with an 86-67 record.
In 1936, Lucas posted a 15-4 record with a 3.18 ERA. He completed 12 of 22 starts (out of 27 overall appearances), walking only 26 batters in 175.2 innings pitched (leading the NL with 1.3 free passes issued per game). On August 7th, he allowed five hits and one earned run, striking out four without giving up any walks in a 5-1 Bucs win over the Reds. The Pirates finished the season in fourth in the National League with an 84-70 record.
Lucas went 8-10, 4.27 in 1937. For his last win of the season on September 5th, he allowed six hits in a 7-0 victory over the Chicago Cubs. It was the last shutout of his career. He also continued to display impeccable ball control, walking 23 batters in 126.1 innings. The Pirates closed out the year 18 games above .500, in third in the NL (behind the New York Giants and the Chicago Cubs) with an 86-68 record.
The Pirates posted an 89-64 record in 1938, finishing three games out of the pennant to the Chicago Cubs. Lucas posted a 3.54 ERA with a 6-3 record. He walked 16 batters in 84 innings, and finished four of his 13 starts on the season.
Lucas pitched two more minor league seasons before hanging up his baseball spikes after the 1940 season. He pitched in 24 more games for the Nashville Volunteers of the Southern Association at the age of 43 before retiring for good after 1945.
More about Lucas: here.
All-Time Statline: 47-32, 3.77 ERA, 109 games, 96 starts, 45 CG, four shutouts, 684.1 innings pitched, 752 hits allowed, walked 128, struck out 165, 1.286 WHIP, 11.5 wins above replacement.