Leonard Leslie Cole was born in Toledo, Iowa in 1886. His first MLB appearance for the Chicago Cubs was in 1909. In what was his only game of the season, he managed to throw a complete game shutout, and also went 3-4 at the plate! Manager Frank Chance knew he had a pitcher worth taking a look at the next season. Cole would go 20-4, 1.80 in 29 starts, finishing the season with a fantastic 160 ERA+. He pitched the first 8 innings of game 4 of the 1910 World Series, a game he left trailing 3-2. The Cubs rallied to tie the game in the bottom of the 9th and won it in a walk off in the 10th. It turned out to be the only game the Cubs won in the series as the Athletics won the World Series in 5 games.
The following season saw Cole go 18-7 for the Cubs, though his control had not really improved. That was his one weakness. As great as his 1910 season was, he still walked 130 batters, but the fact that he gave up just 174 hits in just under 240 IP was able to hide it a little better. He walked 99 batters in just over 221 innings in 1911. Cole was able to have much better control for the 1912 season, but that was all he had. He got lit up in 8 games, 3 starts for the Cubs- giving up 36 hits, 8 walks and 23 ER in 19 IP. He would be dealt to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Tommy Leach, a player I have discussed on multiple occasions here in BEB.
Cole pitched a little bit better for the Pirates, but worthy of replacement level. He went 2-2, 6.43 in 12 games, 5 starts finishing with a total of 3-4, 7.68 in 20 games, 8 starts in a season he'd certainly like to forget. After the season, he could not find a taker after the Pirates did not renew his contract. He pitched for the Columbus Senators of the American Association for the 1913 season and regained his form, winning 23 games and pitching well over 300 innings. That led to him being drafted in the Rule 5 draft by the Yankees after the 1913 season.
He returned to form in 1914 for the Yankees, splitting the season between the team's rotation and bullpen. He went 10-9, 3.30 in 30 games, 15 starts with a better balance of improved control and not giving up as many hits. He also gave up a hit that season to baseball immortal Babe Ruth, who at the time was a pitcher for the Boston Red Sox. The hit, a double, was the first of his career. The following season was one of the most difficult any ballplayer would have to deal with.
He was diagnosed with a groin tumor, which he had removed in April of 1915. He announced himself good to return to play just a month later, which was against what the doctors had suggested to him. He was unable to make it through his first practice as he felt extremely dizzy and was sent home to rest for a couple months. He returned to the field in the second game of a double header against Detroit on July 13th. He would finish off the season but afterwards was diagnosed with tuberculosis, a disease he would die from on January 6, 1916- 99 years ago.