If you remember anything about Frank Wickware and his 1913 team the Schenectady Mohawk Giants it’s likely to be Wickware’s 1 to 0 defeat of Walter Johnson in an exhibition game on October 5 of that year. This was Walter Johnson at the height of his powers, the year he went 36-7 for the Washington Senators with a 1.14 ERA. Both Wickware and Johnson were born only a few months apart (Johnson on November 6. 1887, Wickware on March 18, 1888) in the southeast corner of Kansas; both were often linked to Coffeyville, though Johnson was born and grew up outside of Humboldt, while it appears that Wickware was from Girard, though he may later have moved to Coffeyville.
Walter Johnson and Frank Wickware. Note that Wickware is called “Smoky Joe” Wickware by the Schenectady Gazette in 1913, several years before the nickname was attached to Cyclone Joe Williams (who, incidentally, started the year with the Mohawks).
The game only went five innings (45 minutes!), perhaps by prior agreement with Johnson, who had just thrown 346 innings in 48 games for the Nationals. (The Schenectady Gazette said it was called due to darkness.) His team had been advertised as consisting of American League players (thus, presumably, the moniker “All-Americans”), but I’ve had a hard time tracking them down. The only ones I know for sure are Fred Jacklitsch, a 38-year-old former Phillies catcher, playing for Rochester of the International League that year, and Paul Dietz, shortstop for Harrisburg of the Tri-State League and later a fixture on the East Coast semipro scene. It seems safe to say that Johnson was backed by a minor league team—and not a high-level minor league team, either.
Yet Johnson hardly needed them. He struck out 11 in five innings. Of his 62 pitches, only nine were called balls, and the All-Americans did not manage a single assist. The Mohawks made only two hits, both ground rule doubles that went over the crowds standing in the outfield, one to left, one to center. (You have to wonder just how close the fans were standing.)
Wickware, by contrast, was pretty good, but not overpowering. He fanned five but walked three, allowed five hits (including two to Johnson), and hit a batter. Still, he succeed in working his way out of trouble, and scraped through with the five-inning win.
Here’s the Schenectady Gazette’s account of the game (October 6, 1913; click to enlarge).