By David Fleet
Atlas Twp.- On April 18, 1914, center fielder Ty Cobb had one hit, scored a run in four times at bat leading the Detroit Tigers to a 4-3 win over the Cleveland Naps. The winning pitcher was a lanky 6 feet 6 inch tall mid-Michigan native Alex Main who tossed eight scoreless innings with six strike outs. Three of the six hits were given up to the Naps Right Fielder “Shoeless Joe Jackson.”
Miles Grant “Alex” Main was born in Montrose, May 13, 1884 would years later purchase a farm on Ridge Road between Green and Horton roads in the township.
Phyillis Nylander, 80, Main’s niece recalls her uncle Miles height.
“His wife Aunt Clara was about 5 feet tall,” said Nylander, a former Wheelock Hospital employee and now a Grand Blanc resident. “I recall Uncle Miles building a house on the property along Ridge Road in Goodrich. At one time he farmed some of that property. The Main boys all played baseball at one time or another.”
A right handed pitcher, who batted left, Main was a 30-year-old rookie, and started his big league career on April 18, 1914 for the Tigers. As a Tiger he appeared in 32 games, starting 12 of them, according to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. That year he went 6–6 with a 2.67 ERA, completing five games and saving three. His three saves ranked sixth in the league. In addition to the Tigers, he also played for the Kansas City Packers and Philadelphia Phillies.
Main made his baseball start with the Flint based Buick Majors, where he earned $150 per month.
From Flint, he went to Louisville, where he played with Joe McCarthy, who would later manage the New York Yankees. In 1912, he played for Jersey City and in 1913 for Buffalo. After a short stint in the minor leagues he joined the Tigers where he earned $2,243.34 per year or the equivalent of $56,000 today. In 2018 the minimum major league salary was $545,000 per year.
Atlas Township resident Lewie Main, 75, a 1961 Goodrich High School graduate is Miles Main’s nephew.
“I played baseball for the Martians,” said Lewie, a Goodrich outfielder all four years. “Actually, I used Uncle Miles baseball shoes too. There was a leather strap over his right shoe so when he dragged his toe to pitch it would not wear his shoe out so quick. I played four years for Goodrich and the shoes were a little big but they worked.”
During Main’s four year major league career he accumulated a 21-22 record with a 2.77 ERA in 403.1 innings pitched. He struck out 160 and appeared in 75 games. His last game was June 29, 1918 with the Kansas City Packers against the New York Giants. According to newspaper reports, Main suffered from a chipped elbow, an aliment common to pitchers ended his baseball career.
Miles died on Dec. 29, 1965 in Royal Oak.