Carl Hubbell, the Baseball Hall of Fame pitcher who won 253 games for the New York Giants with his masterful delivery of the screwball, died yesterday of injuries suffered in an automobile accident. He was 85 years old.
Mr. Hubbell lost control of his car Saturday while driving near his Mesa, Ariz., home, and the vehicle struck a metal pole. He died at Scottsdale Memorial Hospital-Osborn in Scottsdale, Ariz. A spokeswoman there said death was caused by head and chest injuries.
Known affectionately as The Meal Ticket to appreciative players and dedicated fans of the Giants in the Depression years, Hubbell was the National League's premier left-handed pitcher of the 1930's and one of the finest in modern baseball history.
He pitched only for the Giants, winning 253 games and losing 154 from 1928-43. He was the National League's most valuable player in 1933 and 1936. Three Series Appearances
Pitching in the World Series of 1933, 1936 and 1937, King Carl won four games and lost two with an exceptional earned run average of 1.79.
His 1.66 e.r.a. in 1933, when he enjoyed a streak of 46Y consecutive scoreless innings, is the lowest by a left-handed starting pitcher in a National League season.
He won 21 or more games each year from 1933-37.
In the 1934 All-Star Game, he struck out in succession Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons and Joe Cronin, all of whom are in the Hall of Fame.
Hubbell, who won 24 consecutive games in a streak that overlapped the 1936 and 1937 seasons, was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1947. All Business on Mound
Hubbell's businesslike demeanor on and off the pitching mound contrasted with more colorful, eccentric pitchers of his era, like Lefty Gomez of the Yankees and Dizzy Dean of the St. Louis Cardinals. Hubbell won respect and attention solely from on-field performances.
Although consistency of excellence was the trademark of his pitching, he is also remembered for three particular instances of brilliance.
In his first full major league season, 1929, he pitched a no-hitter against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Then in 1933, he threw an 18-inning, 1-0 victory over St. Louis at the Polo Grounds. And his dramatic feat of striking out in order five of baseball's greatest hitters in the second All-Star Game embedded itself in the nation's sporting consciousness.
After giving up a hit and a walk to the first two batters in the game, he relied exclusively on the screwball for strikes as he struck out the American League's top sluggers (Ruth, Gehrig and Foxx) and two of its finer contact hitters, Simmons and Cronin.
Fernando Valenzuela of the Los Angeles Dodgers matched Hubbell's feat in 1984, but his five consecutive strikeouts did not have the national impact that Hubbell's achieved.
Hubbell's success with the screwball made the pitch famous. Thrown with the wrist snapping in instead of out, the delivery broke the opposite direction from a normal curveball - that is, down and away from a right-handed batter when thrown by a left-handed pitcher.
Controlling the enormously effective pitch was the secret to Hubbell's success. He threw it with pinpoint accuracy as he did his unexceptional fastball. In his 18-inning shutout, he did not walk a batter. Grew Up in Oklahoma
Carl Owen Hubbell was born in Carthage, Mo., on June 22, 1903, but grew up in Meekeer, Okla. Just before his 20th birthday, he began his professional baseball career with Cushing of the Class D Oklahoma State League.
Five years later, he was still in the minor leagues, but had begun to develop his special delivery. Most successful pitchers, he noted later, had some sort of sinkerball. He tried to acquire one by starting to snap his wrist - and out came the screwball. ''I didn't even know what a screwball was,'' he said.
In mid-1928, Hubbell was pitching for Beaumont in the Texas League when the Giants, managed by John McGraw, bought his contract and called him to New York. Before the season ended, he had won 10 games and lost 6 and was looked upon as a starter.
On May 8, 1929, he hurled his no-hitter, against Pittsburgh, and he continued as a competent but unspectacular winner as the Giants failed to win a pennant for four years. When McGraw retired in June 1932 and Bill Terry succeeded him a manager, Hubbell began his finest streak of pitching, leading the Giants to three pennants in five years.
In 1933, Hubbell turned in 10 shutouts (including the 18-inning effort against the Cardinals) and 23 victories in all. In the World Series against the Washington Senators, he won the first and last games, allowing no earned runs as the Giants prevailed in five games.
He continued to win more than 20 games each season, but the Giants did not win another pennant until 1936, when Hubbell had 26 victories, the best of his career, against 6 losses. In the first game of the World Series, he ended a Yankee streak of 12 consecutive Series victories, holding them to one run. A three-run double by Frank Crosetti led to Hubbell's defeat in his only other start as the Yankees won in six games.
Hubbell had won his final 16 regular-season decisions in 1936 and began the 1937 season with eight more consecutive victories. He continued to a 22-8 season that led the Giants to another pennant and another meeting with the Yankees. He broke even in two decisions as the Yanks prevailed again, in five games. Elbow Trouble
Hubbell developed elbow trouble in 1938 when he was 35 years old, his left arm bent because of his heavy use of the screwball. He won 13 games, but was never again fully effective, winning 11 in each of the next four seasons before he retired in the middle of 1943 with a 4-4 record.
Although he had become affluent from oil investments with friends in Oklahoma, Hubbell accepted an appointment as director of the Giants' farm system.
He had married Lucille Herrington in 1930 after completing his first full major league season.
Mr. Hubbell, who moved to Mesa in 1976 after suffering a heart attack, is survived by two sons, Carl Jr. and James, and two grandsons.