Christy Mathewson seemed to have a lot of luck early in his career. Mathewson was solid but not spectacular early in his career. His manager Horace Fogel even played him at first base and the outfield for a few games. Then John McGraw came. McGraw said Mathewson was a pitcher. He started pitching better after McGraw started to manage. By his first full season managing McGraw and his wife took Christy and his wife under his wing.
Mathewson made good. He won 30 games each of the next 3 seasons. After the 1905 season, the third of the streak, he won 3 games in the World Series. All of them shutouts. Christy was on top of the world.
After that, his pitching was still great, but he wasn’t as fortunate. He had his best season in 1908 at the age of 27 winning 37 games that year. However, he lost a game that had to replayed with the pennant on the line 4-2.
Mathewson was still the best pitcher in baseball, just not as dominate, from 1911 to 1913. The Giants won 3 pennants in a row. Mathewson pitched very well in the 3 World Series. He had a great ERAs in each of the 3 but ended up going 2-5 and the Giants lost all three series.
After that Mathewson started to slide. He had a below average earned run average in 1914. He pitched two more seasons and not well. He retired and started to manage. He was exposed to mustard gas during WWII which affected him the rest of his life. He soon contacted tuberculosis which eventual killed him in 1925 at the age of 45.
Mathewson had a great reputation as an honest ballplayer. In the 1919 World Series, he circled plays he regarded as suspicious. He forwarded these box scores to the league offices. I doubt they ever did anything with them. It would be interesting to see those box scores.
Mathewson was a great pitcher for 14 years, 1901 to 1914. His other three years he was a below average pitcher. That is why he is only 13th on the list. However, arguments can be made that he should be higher. Still being the 13th best pitcher of all time and part of my inner circle isn’t all bad. Also, the number 13 seems to represent his life after 1905 to some extent. The thing is he handled both success and failure, good luck and bad luck with class and dignity.