Henry Lee Meadows preferred to use his middle name, but was also known as “Specs.” He was a 6’ righty who batted left handed from Oxford, NC. Born on July 12th, 1894, he made his professional debut in 1913 with the “D” level North Carolina League Durham Bulls. In two seasons with the club he posted a 40-26 record with a 1.86 ERA and a 1.005 WHIP.
Meadows, then only 20, joined the St. Louis Cardinals in 1915. In parts of five seasons with the club he posted a 52-67 record with a 3.00 ERA. His substandard record was not indicative of poor performance, as evidenced by his 8.7 hits allowed per nine innings pitched. He pitched seven shutouts out of his 134 rotation starts. On July 14, 1919, the Cards traded him with Gene Paulette to the Philadelphia Phillies for Doug Baird, Elmer Jacobs and Frank Woodward.
Meadows spent parts of five seasons with the Phillies, posting a 48-61 record with a 3.65 ERA and eight shutouts out of 115 starts. After five starts (out of eight overall appearances), he was 1-3 with a 13.27 ERA and a 2.797 WHIP. Philadelphia traded him along with Johnny Rawlings to the Bucs for Cotton Tierney and $50,000 on May 22nd. Five days later, he started his first game for the Pirates. Although he gave up 15 hits and two walks, he pitched a complete game, gaining a 4-2 win over the Chicago Cubs. The effort dropped his ERA to 9.42. His best performance of the campaign was on September 10th, in an 8-0 shutout complete game over the Cincinnati Reds. He allowed a walk and seven hits while striking out three. For Pittsburgh, he posted a better than expected 16-10 record, bringing his season total to 17-13. His 17 wins ranked him 10th in the NL, and he ranked fifth by allowing only 2.153 walks per nine innings. His 3.01 ERA for the Bucs brought his overall ERA to more respectable 3.83. At 87-67, the Pirates found themselves on the outside looking on, 8.5 games behind the pennant winning New York baseball Giants.
1924 would see Meadows maintain a winning record, at 13-12 with a 3.26 ERA. On August 8th, he pitched a complete game 1-0 shutout over the Phillies, allowing only three hits and facing two over the minimum. He also struck out three. He finished the season ranked 10th in the NL with 229.3 innings pitched and 2.002 walks allowed per nine innings. The Pirates finished 90-63, in third place just three games behind the league leading Giants.
In 1925, Meadows posted a 19-10 record with a 3.67 ERA. He completed 20 of his 31 starts, and also made four relief appearances. In game one of a doubleheader on August 22nd, he pitched a complete game 8-1 win over the Giants, allowing a walk and six hits while striking out three. He also struck out seven batters on two occasions, a 4-3 loss to the Cubs, and a 16-3 win over the Phillies. Pittsburgh won the pennant by 8.5 games over the Giants with a 95-58 record. Meadows only appeared once in the World Series. He started game one and took the loss despite striking out four and allowing only six hits through eight innings against Walter Johnson as the Washington Senators took the 4-1 decision. The Pirates would ultimately prevail, winning the World Championship in seven games.
Meadows led the NL with 20 wins in 1926. He went 20-9 with a 3.97 ERA for the 84-69 Pirates, who placed third in the league 4.5 games behind the St. Louis Cardinals. In the second game of a twin bill on September 12th, he won a 7-1 decision over the Giants by allowing five hits and zero walks against six strikeouts.
1927 would see Meadows set a new personal best by leading the National League with 38 starts and 25 complete games, including two shutouts. He went 19-10, bringing his three year total to an impressive 58-29. He posted a 3.34 ERA on the season. After winning his first seven decisions of the season, he won three of his next four, culminating in a 4-0 win over the Cubs where he allowed four hits and four walks while striking out four on June 20th. Pittsburgh made it back to the World Series, winning the pennant by 1.5 games over the Cardinals with a 94-60 record. After falling behind two games to one, Meadows took the hill against the AL Champion New York Yankees. Despite striking out six in 6.1 innings, he took the loss by allowing seven runs in an 8-1 loss. The Pirates would finish by losing game four, 4-3.
Over the next two seasons, Meadows appeared in a grand total of five major league games, going 1-1 with an 8.44 ERA over just 10.2 innings pitched. He would go on to win a grand total of 20 minor league ballgames over the next four seasons, ending with his retirement from the Durham Bulls following 1932.
All-Time Statline: Seven seasons, 88-52, 3.50 ERA, 183 games, 157 starts, 93 CG, eight shutouts, one save, 1248.1 innings pitched, 1351 hits allowed, walked 286, struck out 355, 1.311 WHIP, 14.4 wins above replacement.