The winningest pitcher in Detroit Tigers history, Hooks Dauss was the go-to guy for player/manager Ty Cobb in the early years of the Lively Ball Era. George Dauss, nicknamed “Hooks” because of his terrific curveball, posted 223 career wins–all with the Tigers. Although the Tigers had such legendary hitters like Cobb, Crawford and Heilmann when Dauss was playing in Detroit, he never made a World Series appearance due in part to lackluster pitching peers.
The Tigers called up Hooks late in the 1912 season and he tossed two complete games for Hughie Jennings’ squad. The little holler-guy needed pitching help since his two stalwarts during their heyday–Wild Bill Donovan and George Mullin–were essentially through. Dauss and teammate Jean Dubuc were billed as their predecessors. Although Dubuc eclipsed Hooks in innings pitched in 1913, Dauss was the only Tiger pitcher to reach 100 strikeouts.
Hooks reached the 300 innings pitched mark for the first time in 1914. He won 19 games and posted a career high 150 strikeouts–a fine total for the Deadball Era when players didn’t whiff in record numbers like they do today. He reached the 20-win plateau for the first time in 1915 when he sealed 24 victories for the 100-win Tigers. Despite their lofty wins total, Detroit came in second place–the closest Hooks would ever come to a World Series.
A steady winner in the latter years of the Deadball Era, Dauss claimed 19 wins in 1916. Although his wins total fell in 1917 to 17, Hooks enjoyed a career year for ERA and shutouts while fashioning his fourth 100+ strikeout campaign. In his sixth year at the Major League level, Hooks posted his first losing record in 1918, but World War I had a slight effect on the game that year as Ty Cobb missed some action to service in the military.
Baseball was back to its usual business in 1919 and so was Hooks Dauss. He posted his second 20-win season by going 21-9 for Detroit. When ERAs began to swell in the 1920s, Hooks saw his usual sub 3.00 mark reach 3.56 in 1920. In 1921, it swelled above 4.00 and then leveled off at 4.20 in 1922. From 1013 to 1919, Hooks only had two seasons with an ERA above 3.00 but with three years of the Lively Ball Era, he had two campaigns with an earned run average above 4.00.
But Dauss wasn’t done yet. In 1923, skipper Ty Cobb rode Hooks’ hot right arm–working him in 316 innings. He was one of just three American League hurlers to eclipse the 300 inning plateau. That year also marked his third 20-win season and the curveball artist finished second in the shutouts department. But the heavy workload took its toll on his arm and he wasn’t the same in 1924. Cobb used Hooks almost exclusively out of the bullpen–he made just ten starts–and he tied for fourth in the AL in saves.
The work out of the pen helped rest up his arm for the 1925 campaign when Cobb again inserted the aging veteran into the rotation. Hooks responded with his last great season. He won 16 games for the Bengals on a 3.16 ERA–an amazing stat for the day, given that the Detroit staff ERA was 4.61. With a worn out arm in 1926, Cobb again used Hooks as a relief arm in his final campaign and Dauss saved nine games–second in the American League. After his playing career, Dauss worked for the Pinkerton Agency.
W 223/L 182/PCT .551/ERA 3.30/G 538/CG 245/SHO 22/IP 3,391/H 3,407/BB 1,067/SO 1,201