Born: May 1, 1885
Died: May 30, 1940
George Watt McQuillan was born May 1, 1885 in Brooklyn and grew up in Paterson. A smooth, strong athlete with a powerful arm, he played the outfield for his high school team. After graduation, he played minor-league ball in the summers and worked for the Edison Electric Co. in the off-season. George’s managers saw potential in his muscular six-foot frame and strong pitching arm, and moved him to the mound. In 1907, at the age of 22, he pitched six games for the Philadelphia Phillies and just three runs in 41 innings.
In 1908, manager Billy Murray inserted George into the starting rotation. The Phillies had a solid club led by slugger Sherry McGee, but lacked a big-name pitching ace. George surprised everyone by becoming that ace. He appeared in 48 games and went 23–17 with seven shutouts and a 1.53 ERA. The Phillies got good years out of several pitchers and led the NL with a 2.10 team ERA. They finished 83–71, fourth behind the Cubs, Giants and Pirates, who were engaged in the epic 1908 pennant race.
George pitched in Cuba that winter and returned with an undisclosed disease (probably an STD). His wife filed for divorce and although he pitched well in 1909, his record fell to 13–16. He was criticized for being out of shape and also had developed a drinking problem. Even so, in 1910, he led the NL with a 1.60 ERA.
George was part of a huge deal between the Phillies and Reds after the season. Almost immediately, he was diagnosed with advanced syphilis and entered treatment. When the 1911 season started, however, George was not ready. He was 2–6 with an ERA almost triple his 1910 number, and he was banished to the minors during the summer. He made it back to the majors with the Pirates in 1913 but was never the same pitcher again. He played for the Phillies and Indians, throwing his final pitch as a big-leaguer in 1918.
George hung on in the minors until the mid-1920s and managed the Columbus team, where he had made his home for many years. After leaving the game, he managed a furniture warehouse in town for the rest of his life. George passed away in 1940 at age 55 from a heart attack.