Charlie Buffinton Charles G. Buffinton, born Buffington (June 14, 1861 - September 23, 1907), was an American right-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball from 1882 to 1892 who played primarily for Boston and Philadelphia teams, pitching for two franchises in each city. One of the workhorse pitchers of the 1880s, he won 20 games seven times; his 1700 career strikeouts were the ninth-highest total of the 19th century.
Born in Fall River, Massachusetts, Buffinton - mainly known for his brilliant sinker ball - began his career with the Boston Red Caps/Beaneaters. He played in the days of 2- or 3-man pitching staffs, and was a huge part of many of his teams' successes. From 1883 to 1885 he was one of Boston's two principal pitchers along with Jim Whitney; together they picked up 61 of Boston's 63 wins in 1883, when the Beaneaters took the pennant. Buffinton's best season came right after that, though, when he went 48-16 with a 2.15 ERA in 67 starts in 1884. On September 2, he struck out 17 opposing players, still a franchise record, and he ended the year with 417 strikeouts, becoming one of seven pitchers that season to break the previous record of 361. Typical of the era, he completed 63 of his starts, with 8 being shutouts. It is important to note that such win totals were not completely extraordinary at the time; at least one major league pitcher won 40 games, with at least four winning 30, in every year from 1882 to 1891; by comparison, 1884 was Buffinton's only 30-win season, and he ranked only third in the major leagues that year as Charles Radbourn set a record with 60 wins, and a record 14 pitchers won 30 or more games.
After a poor 1886 season which saw him drop to 7-10 in more limited play due to arm trouble, his contract was sold to the Philadelphia Phillies in 1887, and he pitched two one-hitters in a row for the team at one point; he became the mainstay of their staff during his three years there, winning over 20 games in each. He jumped to the Philadelphia Athletics of the Players League in 1890, posting a 19-15 record and managing the team for most of the year, before shifting to the American Association's Boston Reds in 1891, where he enjoyed a 29-9 year for the league champions, his last 20-win campaign. After a 4-8 record with the Baltimore Orioles in 1892, he retired rather than accept a midseason pay cut, and went into business. In 1893 the pitching distance in baseball was increased from 50 feet to 60 feet 6 inches, effectively ending his chances of returning.
In an 11-year career, Buffinton had a record of 233-152 with a 2.96 ERA in 414 games (396 starts). He pitched 351 complete games and 30 shutouts, struck out 1700 and allowed 1120 earned runs in 3404 innings pitched. At the time of his retirement he ranked between seventh and tenth in virtually every career pitching category, although due to the short history of the major leagues to that point all of those ahead of him were his contemporaries; as the 1890s progressed he quickly dropped further down the lists.
He also played as an outfielder for 137 games, and batted a respectable .245 for his career.
Buffinton died in Fall River, Massachusetts at the age of 46 from heart disease.