August 26, 1913: Jim Scoggins
On this date, 106 years ago, Lynn J. Scoggins, known to his friends and teammates simply as Jim Scoggins, was the starting pitcher for the Chicago White Sox against the visiting Washington Senators. At Comiskey Park in 1913, Chicago hosted Washington and Scoggins threw the first pitch of the game. That was about as far as he went.
He issued a walk and gave up a run and just like that, manager Nixey Callahan, pulled the plug on the 22-year-old hurler. Evidently, after just two batters, he had seen enough. His quick exit resulted in him ending his career with an infamous "INF" ERA, meaning it is infinite. He faced two batters, walked one of them, allowed a run, and didn't record an out. His final stat line reads something like 0.0 IP, 1 ER, 1 BB, 0 Ks. His replacement was Eddie Cicotte, who finished out the game. Cicotte was having a breakout year in 1913, one where he would finish with a sterling 1.58 ERA, second best in the American League.
On track for a Hall of Fame career, Cicotte was banned from baseball in 1920 after he and seven "Black Sox" teammates were found to have thrown the 1919 World Series. Billy Maharg, the bettor who implicated Cicotte as having initiated the plot, has his own "cup of coffee" story on a wild day in Philadelphia just one year before Scoggins' debut. More on that in a future story.
There's no telling why Scoggins didn't get another chance, especially since he continued to pitch relatively effectively in the minor leagues in subsequent years.
In 1914, with the A-Ball Lincoln Tigers, he logged 283 innings and posted a solid 2.58 ERA while striking out 179 batters and walking just 73. He followed up that performance with two years in the Pacific Coast League, one step away from returning to the majors. With the Los Angeles Angels in 1915-16, he again impressed with ERAs of 3.10 and 3.70 in those respective seasons.
That pair of seasons did not earn him a major-league call up and at 25 years old, he took a major step back, playing with the B-Ball Dallas Giants of the Texas League. After logging just 32 subpar innings in Dallas, he was out of baseball in the 1918 season. He returned in 1919 with the C-Ball Columbia Comers of the Southern League where he went 11-8 with a 3.71 ERA in 189 innings.
His foray back into the game in 1919 was his last as he settled down in Columbia, South Carolina and transitioned into life after baseball. Unfortunately, that proved not to be very long for Scoggins, who died just four years later, 10 days shy of the 10-year anniversary of his one major-league appearance. He was just 32 years old. Scoggins is buried at Wingate Cemetery in Wingate, Texas, just under 200 miles west from where he was born in Killeen.