GREATEST MOMENTS | Before baseball fame, Bucknell’s Christy Mathewson starred in football


Bucknell-greatestThe Gentleman’s Hurler first made his name on the football field.

Christy Mathewson, one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history, played fullback, punter and dropkicker at Bucknell from 1898-1900.

According to the school’s history, Mathewson kicked a point after touchdown in the first varsity game of his freshman year, and in the next three years added 13 touchdowns and eight field goals.

He gained national attention when he dropkicked two field goals against Pennsylvania in 1899 and added a 45-yard field goal against Army the following year. As a result, he was named the “12th man” on Walter Camp’s 1900 All-America Team.

Reports in Bucknell files indicate Mathewson practiced his dropkicking hour after hour and that his punting was exceptional during a three-year career during which he scored 106 points. He was also a punishing runner, and one game account makes note of a 65-yard touchdown run and a 70-yard kickoff return.

Mathewson was also a standout player in basketball and baseball, where he won his greatest fame.

He fashioned a lifetime record of 373-188 with 79 shutouts, 2,502 strikeouts and 2.13 earned-run average of 2.13. In the 1905 World Series against the Philadelphia Athletics, Mathewson pitched three shutouts in a five day span to lead the New York Giants to the first of the franchise’s eight world championships.

On Jan. 29, 1936, Mathewson was one of five original members inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. It’s judged the greatest moment in Bucknell sports history because of what he meant to the school and what the school meant to him. He is buried in a cemetery adjacent to the university in Lewisburg, Pa.

Bucknell’s football stadium — Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium was rededicated in his honor in 1989, and the brick and iron Mathewson Memorial Gateway greets visitors to campus, along with the bronze tablet that reads: “Christopher Mathewson: Athlete, Soldier, Gentleman.”

• Bucknell’s Athletics Hall of Fame

Above: Bucknell’s 1901 baseball team with Christy Mathewson in the back row, second from right. (Courtesy Bucknell University Archives)

• Monday: Ball State and Belmont
• Tuesday: Bemidji State and Boston College
• Wednesday: Boston University and Bowling Green
• Thursday: Brown and Bucknell
• Friday: Buffalo and Cal State Bakersfield

Mike Bambach

Mike Bambach is senior web producer for ASN.