Charles “Babe” Adams was on his way to an 18-9 season with a 2.24 ERA (on the heels of 12-3, 1.11) in his second full season in the major leagues. The 28-year-old was asked by Chicago journalist Joseph B. Bowles to tell readers “How I Win,” for a series of syndicated articles.
Adams was initially reluctant:
“I have been asked to tell how I win, and it may sound immodest for a new man to try to tell such things. You say it is for the benefit of young players, so I’ll tell some of the things I learned after coming to Pittsburgh. The first thing I found out was that (Fred) Clarke was boss, and that he knew more about the game than I ever thought was in it. After a few bumpings, I learned that (catcher George) Gibson knew a lot more about what to pitch to batters than I did. I think I began to improve as soon as I found out these things. The next was that I had to have confidence in the team to make them have confidence in me. In baseball words, ‘I wised up.’”
Adams’ view of what made a good pitcher was the same in 1910 as it would be nearly a decade later after he had been released by the Pirates and worked his way back to the team and reestablishing himself as an effective pitcher in his late 30s:
“Now a pitcher can have all the speed and curves and control in the world and still not be a good pitcher until he gets wise. This Pittsburgh crowd plays the game to win, and it is because they work together, hit together, and because each man relies on the others, that they win. At first, I thought Gibson made some mistakes in telling me what to pitch. In fact, I was wrong most of the time. He taught me what to do with a curve ball, and when my control was good enough to pitch where he wanted the ball pitched, things went right. Sometimes I laughed at myself remembering the mistakes I used to make—some of them I still make…The pitcher must remember that the chances are the batter is as smart and experienced as he is, and keep thinking all the time; trying to guess what the batter is thinking, and then pitching something else.”
Adams continued to credit his teammates for his success:
“It is a big help tp a pitcher to look around in a tight situation and see where Clarke, or (Tommy) Leach, or (Honus) Wagner are playing. A fellow can learn a lot and get a lot of help by taking his cue from them and pitching the ball where they seem to want it pitched. It gives a man confidence, too, to know he can make that batter hit the ball, and that back of him are a crowd of men who will come to the rescue and save him when he needs it.
“I think Gibson did more to make me a winner than anyone else. He is a great catcher, and he rather inspires a pitcher, and makes him do better.”
Adams credited Gibson with his success in the 1909 World Series—when he won three games:
“In the World Series against Detroit, I made a lot of bad breaks in the first game. Gibson steadied me up and coached me all the way. He had a theory the Detroit team would not hit low curves , and after we began to study them and see how they hit, we fed them low curves , fast and slow, just inside the outside of the plate, but always low, and we beat them with that kind of pitching.”
Adams also shared a view of strikeouts that would be repeated by Hall of Famer Addie Joss during Joss’ final interview, two days before his death in 1911:
“I found out striking out batters is not the way to win, and that a pitcher must depend rather on making them hit bad balls or balls where the batter does not expect them to be, than in pitching himself out early in a game trying to strike out hitter.”
Adams, who won 194 games (losing 140) with a career 2.76 ERA, struck out just 1036 batters in 2995.1 innings over 19 seasons.