Edwin Henry Killian (November 12, 1876 – July 18, 1928), nicknamed "Twilight Ed," was a Major League Baseball pitcher primarily of the Detroit Tigers.
Twice a 20-game winner (including a 25–13 season in 1907), Killian's career ERA of 2.38 is tied for 24th best in Major League history, ahead of such legendary pitchers as Cy Young and Grover Cleveland Alexander.
Born in Racine, Wisconsin, Killian did not start his first game in the majors until he was age 26. He came up late in the 1903 season and was 3–4 for the Cleveland Naps.
In January 1904, Killian was traded by the Naps with Jesse Stovall to the Detroit Tigers for Billy Lush. Killian pitched the rest of his major league career with the Tigers. In 1904, Killian had 32 complete games and a 2.44 ERA in 331 innings, but without support from the 7th place Tigers, Killian had the dubious distinction of losing 20 games in his first full season.
As proof that his 1904 win-loss record was not indicative of his talents, Killian battled Cy Young in one of the most remarkable pitching duels in history on May 11, 1904. Young and Killian each pitched 14 scoreless innings, before the Red Sox scored a run in the 15th inning, winning 1–0.
In 1905, Killian turned things around, reducing his ERA to 2.27. He started 37 games and completed 33. He wound up with a 23–14 record, the third best win total in the AL and 4th best in complete games. His eight shutouts in 1905 was tops in the American League.
Killian started only 16 games in 1906 and finished 10–6, but 1907 saw Killian reach the high point of his career. That year, Killian started 41 games for the American League Champion Detroit team. He had a record of 25–13 and an ERA of 1.78—81 points lower than the league average ERA of 2.59. Killian's performance in 1907 helped lead the Tigers to their first AL pennant and was one of the best pitching performances in the history of the Detroit Tigers. Caught in a close race at the end of the 1907 season with Connie Mack's Athletics, Killian pitched and won both games of a double-header to clinch the penant. Unfortunately, the Tigers' ace was worn out for the post-season and was only able to pitch 4 innings with no-decision in the 1907 World Series against the Cubs.
After his workhorse performance in 1907, Killian never again pitched more than 180 innings, continuing to have a winning record in his three remaining years, but no longer having the stamina to pitch 331 innings or start 41 games as he had in 1905 and 1907.
Killian also holds the record for fewest home runs allowed, giving up only 9 in his entire career, an average of one home run every 178 innings. At one point, Killian pitched a record 1001 innings, spanning parts of five seasons (from September 19, 1903 until August 7, 1907), without allowing a home run. His interment was located at Woodlawn Cemetery.
By Dean Hanley
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