They didn’t call them the Daffy Dodgers. And they weren’t yet referred to as ‘Dem Bums. But the Brooklyn teams of the early 1900s fit either nickname.
William Dennis “Doc” Scanlan pitched for those early-20th century Dodgers. And pitch well he did. So well, in fact, that in 1906 he became only the fourth pitcher in modern major league history to win two complete games that day - beating St. Louis, 4-0 and 3-2.
Those who previously performed the feat? ‘Big Ed’ Walsh, ‘Iron Man’ Joe McGinnity and Grover Cleveland Alexander, Hall of Famers, all.
Scanlan is not enshrined in Cooperstown. But his performance during the 1905-06 seasons was rather amazing when one considers how bad those Dodgers teams were.
‘Doc’ Scanlan was a native son of Syracuse, living on Turtle Street and attending Sacred Heart Academy. Collegiately, he played for Manhatten, Fordham and Syracuse (going from campus to campus in those days was not unusual).
At age 22, he hurled a complete game in his big league debut for the 1903 Pittsburgh Pirates. In ‘04 ‘Doc’ was traded to Brooklyn, where he split 14 decisions. In ‘05 he tossed two shutouts among his 22 complete games in 28 starts. What was spectacular was the fact he posted a 15-11 record for a last-place team - one finishing 56 ½ games behind John McGraw’s New York Giants.
In ‘06 Scanlan was even better. While Brooklyn improved slightly, finish 20 games under .500 and fifth in the National League, ‘Doc’ won 18 of 31 decisions, authoring six shutouts and going the route 28 of 33 starts. Following the ‘07 season, he completed medical studies on Long Island and served his internship at Brooklyn’s King County Hospital.
Scnalan, whose younger brother, Frank, pitched in six National League games for Philadelphia in ‘09, exited the majors after the 1911 season. He appeared in 182 big league games, won 67 of 137 decisions while his teams fared far worse, completed 102 of 149 starts, had 15 shutouts and a sparkling career earned run average of 3.00.
Seven years later, 37-year-old ‘Doc’ Scanlan pitched in one game for the Syracuse Stars. He blanked Jersey City, 5-0 His catcher that days was Stars’ owner Charlie DeMong, a teammate 17 years earlier.
In 2006, ‘Doc’ was inducted into the Syracuse Chiefs Baseball Wall of Fame.
Scanlan died in 1949 at the age of 68.