Coombs, John (Colby Jack) (1969)
Jack Coombs of Freeport pitched and won for the Philadelphia Athletics the day after graduation from Colby College in 1906. Coombs made furter baseball history that season by pitching a full 24 inning game in turning back the Boston Red Sox 1-0 and had a world series record of 5-0. Highlights of a 158-111 win loss record were 31 wins in 1910 .
John Wesley "Jack" Coombs (November 18, 1882 – April 15, 1957), nicknamed "Colby Jack" after his alma mater, was an American professional baseball player. He played in Major League Baseball as a pitcher for the Philadelphia Athletics (1906–14), Brooklyn Robins (1915–18), and Detroit Tigers (1920). Coombs set a number of American League and World League records which still stand and, when he won 31 games while losing nine in 1910, he became one of only 13 pitchers to win 30 games in a season since 1900.
Born in LeGrand, Iowa, Coombs moved to Kennebunk, Maine with his family at the age of 4. He played baseball in high school in Freeport, Maine, and, in 1901–2, for Coburn Classical prep school in Waterville, Maine He was a 1906 graduate of Colby College in Waterville, where he was a chemistry major and a member of Delta Upsilon. He also participated in football, track, and tennis. Colby's baseball field is named for him.
Three weeks after graduating, Coombs pitched in his first major league game for Philadelphia, which was a 7 hit shutout, defeating the Washington Senators 3-0. He finished 1906 with a 10-10 record and 2.50 ERA. In 1906, he pitched the longest complete game in the American League, 24 innings against Boston, winning 4-1. The following year was not great as Coombs went 6-9 with a 3.12 ERA. In 1908 and 1909 his record was only 19-16 despite his ERA being 2.00 and 2.32 those years.
His best season was 1910 which is still one of the best single pitching seasons in MLB history. Besides his record of 31–9, he led the American League in wins (31), games played (45), and shutouts (13), which is still the single season AL record. He won 18 of 19 starts that July and racked up 53 consecutive scoreless innings which was the major league record until Walter Johnson broke it three years later. Don Drysdale and Orel Hershiser have since broken the mark.
He also won three games in the 1910 World Series, in which the Athletics defeated the Chicago Cubs.
He made appearances in the 1911 and 1916 World Series. In 1919, he was the manager of the Philadelphia Phillies for 62 games, going 18-44 before being replaced by Gavvy Cravath. He returned to play one final year in 1920 before retiring.
Coombs became a championship-winning coach at Duke University (1929–52) who sent many players to the majors. Duke University's baseball field is named after him.
He spent his retirement as a sports historian and writer. In 1938, he published, Baseball – Individual Play and Team Strategy.
“‘Bread at Every Meal–That’s our Training rule’ says Jack Coombs Baseball Coach at Duke University. ‘It’s on of the most valuable foods for supplying sustained energy–which stays with you through the game,’ adds Coach Coombs.”
Coombs was best known for pitching a 24-inning complete game for the Philadelphia Athletics against the Boston Americans as a rookie in 1906, and for beating the Chicago Cubs three times in the 1910 World Series.
Coombs, who never played a game in the minor leagues, finished his career with the Detroit Tigers in 1920.
He was coach at Williams and Princeton before arriving at Duke where he coached from 1929-1951, compiling a 382-171 record. Twenty-one future Major League played for Coombs, including Billy Werber, Dick Groat, and his nephew Bobby Coombs.
Duke’s Jack Coombs Field is named for him.