New Hampshire Historical Society - Founded 1823

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New Hampshire Baseball Quiz

QUESTION 13: What New Hampshire resident, nicknamed "Phenomenal," is known for discovering Christy Mathewson and for losing a total of 50 games in two consecutive seasons?

ANSWER: John Smith

John "Phenomenal" Smith was born in Philadelphia in 1864, but spent most of his adult life in New Hampshire. While his pitching record is mediocre by major league standards, he was a fine manager and is given credit for discovering Christy Mathewson, who would become one of the greatest pitchers of all time. Smith earned the nickname "Phenomenal" for striking out 16 batters while pitching for Newark in the minor leagues in 1885, in a game in which no ball was hit out of the infield. "Phenomenal" accomplished something few pitchers ever would do when he lost 50 games in two consecutive seasons. With Baltimore in the American Association, he was 25-30 in 1887 and lost 20 games in 1888. In the 1890s, Smith became a minor league manager. In 1900, he discovered Christy Matthewson at Bucknell and signed the collegian to a minor league contract with Norfolk, Va. From 1901 to 1904, Smith managed the Manchester team in the New England League and, as player-manager in 1902, won the batting championship with a .368 average. He served with the Manchester police force from 1905 to 1932. He continued living in Manchester until his death in 1952.

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New Hampshire Historical Society - Founded 1823