Charles "Victory" Faust's (1880-1915) entry in the Baseball Encyclopedia looks like that of so many others, particularly in the early major leagues, who were on and off of a team in a matter of weeks. Two games, two innings pitched, an ERA Of 4.50. In reality, Faust's bizarre adventure would make a spectacular movie.
Faust's condition is a matter of debate. In his day it was called feeblemindedness, or simply stupidity. He was naive, silly, delusional... a gentle crazy. Born in Marion, Kansas in 1880, he worked on the family farm until 1911, when he travelled to Wichita, to "see the sights", as he put it. There he saw a fortune teller, who told him he would become a great pitcher and lead the New York Giants to the pennant.
Faust believed the fortune teller, and set out for St. Louis, where the Giants were playing. On July 28, while staying at the Planter's Hotel, he asked for and was granted a chance to see the Giant's famous skipper, John McGraw. He explained what had happened to him, and McGraw, hoping maybe that he possessed raw talent, like many of the farm boys of the day, arranged for Faust a tryout.
That day, Faust, in a suit and bowler hat, pitched before the Giants' game. He was obviously not a baseball player, his strange windmill windup and fastball that wasn't quickly proved, but McGraw let Faust sit on the bench that day. The Giants lost, keeping them in third place.
Faust came back the next day, and this time was given a uniform. He took on the roll of team mascot, often warming up in the bullpen or "striking out" superstars like Honus Wagner before games, and the Giants began to win, charging up the standings and into the pennant race.
Some time into his stint a vaudeville promoter offered Faust $200 a day to talk about his time with the Giants. He accepted, and was a hit. He would introduce himself as Charles Victory Faust, although his middle name was really Victor.
After Faust left, however, the Giants' luck began to run dry. When Faust saw them slumping he felt the team needed him, so he skipped out on his vaudeville contract and returned to the club, which went 37-2 while he was with the team and won the pennant. After they had clinched Faust was allowed into the two games, and maybe his "fastball" managed to keep the hitters off guard, because he allowed only one run in his two innings. He also came up to bat, where he was hit by a pitch and allowed to steal second and third and finally score. (According to some sources Faust shouted "Who's loony now?" to his teammates as he crossed home plate.) The Giants lost in the World Series, however, and the next year McGraw allowed him to remain on the bench, but not in uniform.
Faust was heartbroken; he tried for the next two years following the Giants' loss in the 1912 World Series, during which Faust was away from the team in California, to be reinstated, but to no avail. In 1914 he was found in Portland by police. Faust said he was walking from Seattle, where he lived with his brothers, to New York, to return and help the Giants. He was sent to an insane asylum, where he listed his occupation as "baseball player", but only lasted a week before he was released.
In December of 1914 he was sent to a hospital, where he was diagnosed with Tuberculosis. He died on June 18, 1915. The Giants lost their game that day, and would finish last, four years after the man named Victory got them to the pennant.
The story does have a happy ending, though. Many years later, when John McGraw penned his autobiography, he had this to say: "Wherever Charley Faust is today, I want him to know that I give him full credit for winning the National League Pennant for the Giants in 1911." The Fortune Teller was right.