Leonard Gettelson’s research on Iron Man Pitching Performances (Baseball Research Journal, 1977) identified 27 pitchers who pitched two complete games in one day (since 1900). The first came in 1901, the last in 1926.
In September 1908, there were three two-fers and in each case a man named Ed won both games. On September 25, the Tigers’ Ed Summers won twice to help Detroit move past Chicago and to within two percentage points of Cleveland. The next day, Ed Reulbach of the Cubs blanked the Dodgers twice (the only pitcher ever to do so), keeping Chicago one percentage point behind the first place Giants who also won both their games. Three days later, the White Sox’ Ed Walsh’s two wins over the Red Sox kept Chicago within seven percentage points of Detroit and four behind Cleveland, who both won their doubleheaders.
The Giants certainly can’t match anything like that but Joe McGinnity pioneered the double duty and earned the nickname both on and off the field. Before signing with the Dodgers in 1899, he worked in an iron factory. Taking the mound with the Orioles (AL) in 1901, he became the first pitcher to pitch two complete games in one day. He duplicated the feat 9 days later.
McGinnity, who could pitch effectively both overhand and underhand, came to the Giants along with John McGraw in the summer of 1902. The next season he pitched three more two-fers in August, winning all three. This gave him five of the first seven.
McGinnity’s two-fers seemed to inspire others to try it. The most in a season was five in 1916. The last pitcher to do so was Emil Levsen of the Indians in 1926. None topped McGinnity’s total of five and the closest was Walsh and Dave Davenport with two.
Here is a brief summary of the other two Giants pitchers who pitched two complete games in one day.
Rube Benton, September 6, 1916
NYG 6, BRO 1
BRO 2, NYG 1
One of the most fruitless acts in baseball history was performed by the Giants in 1916. From September 7 to September 30, they won 26 games in a row (This is the official record although some dispute it because there was one tie). With a strong final kick in the last five games, they might have pulled off one of the most amazing comebacks in all of sports.
Either way, it is interesting to note that the streak began on the day after Rube Benton pulled double duty. Benton had it easy in the first game, with the Giants scoring six times.
In the second game, the Dodgers won 2-1. Interestingly enough, the Dodger winner was Rube Marquard, who after seven and a half seasons with the Giants, was traded to Brooklyn in 1915.
Bill Perritt, September 9, 1916
NYG 3, PHL 1
NYG 3, PHL 0
Three days after Benton joined the club, Bill Perritt pitched a double dip. Like Benton’s, the game was played at the Polo Grounds. Perritt's performance was one of the best. He gave up just one run.