Harry Terrell Ables
- Bats Right, Throws Left
- Height 6'3", Weight 215 lb.
- School University of Texas at Austin, Southwestern University
- Debut September 2, 1905
- Final Game May 5, 1911
- Born October 4, 1884 in Terrell, TX USA
- Died February 8, 1951 in San Antonio, TX USA
Harry Ables was a farm boy, born in 1884 and raised near the small town of Terrell, TX. He was recruited late in the 1904 season off the campus of Southwestern University and finished his first year with the Southern Association Memphis Egyptians, helping them win a league title with a 3-2 record and a 4.58 ERA. He was in the Texas League with the Dallas Giants in 1905 where he put together a 17-13, 1.93 line. This got him acquired by the American League's St. Louis Browns for the late season push, where he was 0-3, 3.82 in six games.
Harry's 1905 major league performance was indicative of what the future held for him in the bigs. He got another chance with the 1909 Cleveland Naps, being acquired after a fine season with the San Antonio Bronchos (19-12, 1.97 ERA), but produced only a 1-1, 2.12 in 5 games. The New York Highlanders grabbed him in 1911, after he turned in as good a year as a pitcher could wish for, going 22-11 with a 1.75 ERA for the Pacific Coast League Oakland Oaks. For the future Yankees, he was 0-1 in 3 games with a 9.82 ERA.
At 6'3", 215, Ables was a giant among men for his era. His fingers were so long he could wrap them completely around a baseball. As a pitcher, he was capable of going on streaks where he was all but unhittable. But his skill never translated into sustainable big league success. Yet it would be unfair to look at Harry's body of work without taking a look at his 1910 "Season in the Sun" in the minors. He went on a veritable strikeout-a-palooza, recording 310 for San Antonio for the oldest single-season record in Texas League history (as of 2019).
On April 27th, Ables struck out 15 in a 1-0 win over the Oklahoma City Mets. He fanned the first 7 batters he faced and allowed just 4 hits. The final out was the Mets manager, Jay Andrews, who inserted himself into the game as a pinch hitter; Ables fanned him on three pitches. On June 13th, Harry was even better. Pitching against the league-leading Dallas Giants he did not allow a hit through the first 10 innings. The Giants' Jewel Ens broke up the no-hitter in the 11th but was thrown out trying to steal to end the inning. In the 14th, the Bronchos' George Stinson homered and the Bronchos won, 1-0. "Lefty" struck out 19 Giants in 14 innings. On July 5th, the Bronchos had a doubleheader scheduled with the Waco Navigators with Ables starting the first game. The Navigators scored a run in the 1st and the Bronchos tied it up in the 6th. They then proceeded to play without scoring for 23 innings. Ables pitched all 23 innings, giving up 16 hits and striking out 17. The game still stands as the longest tie in Texas League history and was the longest of any kind by time (4 hours, 15 minutes) until 1960. As of this date, Ables still holds the record of 22 consecutive shutout innings in one game. "Lefty" was still not done. On August 8th, he struck out the first 10 batters in a game at Dallas, also a league record that still stands. Ables struck out 16 in a 4-2 win, allowing but 4 hits. On September 4th, his last start of the season, Harry threw a no-hitter against the Waco team, winning 1-0. Overall in that 1910 campaign, Ables was 19-12, pitched 340 innings and recorded a tiny 1.85 ERA.
Overall, Harry spent 13 seasons in the minors. He appeared in 344 games, going 158-129, striking out 1,901 batters in 2,669 innings behind a tremendous 2.26 ERA. Following his playing career, Ables was later president of the San Antonio Bears from 1926 to 1928. He passed away in San Antonio, TX in 1951 at the age of 67.
The Encyclopedia of Minor League Baseball: Third Edition
SABR Minor League Database
San Antonio at Bat by Dave King