All the Record Books Are Wrong, Part 2

George Winter, Sporting Life, 1902

George Winter, Sporting Life, 1902

Continuing from yesterday’s introductory section (http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2015/01/05/all-the-record-books-are-wrong/), Frank Williams here gets into the nuts and bolts. This spot-on trope will refresh your memory: “This wholesale ravaging of the official records was as if a team of archaeologists had come upon the monoliths of Stonehenge and, not fathoming the reason for the complex astronomical arrangement of the stones, had rearranged them into a pattern they could understand.” From masses of cryptic data, the author detects eleven distinct practices.

The first practice existed primarily from 1876 to 1904. Most pitchers went the full nine innings, but when they didn’t, the win went to the starter if he left the game with the lead and his team never relinquished it. The starter did not have to go five innings, but could get away with pitching two or three innings and still be awarded the win. A couple of examples of this are as follows (pitchers are listed only for the one team which illustrates the practice at hand):

September 27, 1902; at Baltimore–first game
Boston      4 1 3 0 0 0 1 0 0 – 9 Hughes, 4 inn., WON; Altrock, 5 inn.
Baltimore  0 0 3 2 0 2 0 0 1 – 8

April 30, 1904; at Washington
Boston       0 3 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 – 4 Winter, 2 inn., WON; Young, 7 inn.
Washington 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 – 1

Ban Johnson

Ban Johnson

The 1969 edition of Macmillan originally gave the latter win to Young, showing him at 27-16 for the 1904 season and George Winter at 7-4, but the 1982 edition has correctly given the win back to Winter, showing him at 8-4 and Young at 26-16. Macmillan failed, however, to change the relief record. Young’s record should now be 1-0 with one save, but Macmillan still shows him at 2-0. When you make any single change like that, it must be traced all the way through in order to reconcile individual and team totals.

The season of 1905 brought the first real influx of relief pitchers into baseball, and along with this came a drastic change in the awarding of won-lost decisions. It became the official scorer’s job to determine who deserved the win or defeat and then recommend this decision to his superiors, Ban Johnson or John Heydler of the National League. Neither man was shy about overruling official scorers if he disagreed with them.

The second practice, an early change in awarding won-lost decisions, covered the period 1905-15 and is best depicted in a National League game played in 1912.

June 12, 1912; at New York–Marquard’s 13th straight win
Chicago    0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 – 2
New York  0 0 0 1 0 0 0 2 x – 3  Marquard, 8 inn., WON; Crandall, 1 inn.

The following explanation appeared in the New York Times of June 13, 1912:

Rube Marquard, 1911.

Rube Marquard, 1911.

Rube was taken out of the game in the last half of the eighth inning to allow Shafer to try his skill as a pinch-hitter. At that time, the Cubs were in the lead 2 to 1. Shafer walked and that started the rally which gave the Giants two runs and the victory. Crandall pitched the ninth inning. Well, if you must know, Marquard gets the credit for the victory. That is, the official scorer will send in such a recommendation to the Secretary of the National League. In most instances, when a pitcher is retired and the team is behind, the credit for the victory goes to the pitcher who succeeds him. The circumstances in games are so different that there is no rule to cover it and it is often a matter of judgment. The reason that Marquard received credit for yesterday’s game was because he did the bulk of the pitching, and he was not withdrawn from the game for poor pitching. In fact, Rube pitched pretty good ball. [Emphasis mine–F.W.]

Under today’s rules, Marquard would also get this win, but not for the same reason. The following examples are from American League games between 1905 and 1915 which conformed to this practice.

April 21, 1905; at Boston
Philadelphia    0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 0 – 5 Coakley, 7 inn., Waddell, 2 inn., WON
Boston           0 0 0 0 0 1 3 0 0 – 4

Coakley was batted for in the eighth inning and left the game trailing. He was taken out for not pitching well. Waddell faced six batters in two innings and struck out five of them. In the judgment of the official scorer, he pitched better than Coakley did and thus deserved the win.

May 30, 1905; at Washington-first game
Boston         0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 3 – 4 Winter, 8 inn.; Young, 1 inn., WON
Washington   1 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 – 3

Winter was batted for in the ninth. It wasn’t until the latest edition that Macmillan gave this win back to Young and changed his record from 17-19 to 18-19.

The third practice was the most common used in 1905-19. Under modern rules, this situation would be described as a save, but back then, it was a win. Usually, the relief pitcher finished the game and pitched more effectively in crucial situations than did any of his predecessors. The written coverage of this type of game often stated that the relief pitcher saved the game. Examples are as follows:

June 30, 1905; at New York
Philadelphia   1 0 0 0 1 1 0 2 2 – 7 Plank, 8 inn., Waddell, 1 inn., WON
New York      0 0 0 0 2 1 1 0 0 – 4

Rube Waddell, 1906.

Rube Waddell, 1906.

With none out in the ninth, Eddie Plank left the game leading 7-4, but Waddell pitched out of a tight situation and saved the game. According to the latest edition of Macmillan, Plank and Waddell both had 26 victories that year to lead the American League, but this is incorrect. Waddell was awarded the above game, which made him 27-10. He is also the A. L. won-lost percentage champion for 1905–as you know from the opening quiz–rather than Coakley, who was 18-8 per the practices of that time (the official sheets showed Coakley 17-8, but omitted a complete-game victory on July 10).

July 17, 1909; at Cleveland
Boston      0 0 0 0 0 5 1 0 0 – 6 Arellanes, 4 inn., Steele, 1 inn.,Wood, 4 inn., WON
Cleveland  1 0 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 – 4

Elmer Steele left this game in the bottom of the sixth inning leading 5-4, but Wood pitched one of the best strikeout games ever by a relief pitcher. In four frames, he faced 17 batters and fanned 10 of them without walking anyone. There was no doubt that he saved the game and, in line with this observed practice, was awarded the win.

June 6, 1912; at Chicago
Washington   1 0 1 0 0 0 3 0 4 – 9 Musser, 5 inn., Johnson, 4 inn., WON
Chicago        0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 – 1

Walter Johnson

Walter Johnson

Johnson came into this game when the score was only 2-1 and stopped Chicago the rest of the way. There are countless more examples of this practice. Can you imagine what Macmillan did with all these games in its first edition? Every one of them must have been changed!

The fourth practice is an extension of Practice Number One, which was in effect from 1876 to 1904, but with some slight differences. Page 21 of the 1910 Spalding Guide says, “If a pitcher retires from the game after pitching four innings and his team has a big lead, which is maintained to the end, he surely should get the victory.” I would add to this that a pitcher who left a game because of an injury, illness, or banishment would also get the victory if he had the lead when he departed and his team never tied or trailed. I have combined all these situations into one practice because they go hand in hand. Moreover, I have found that the practice was not limited to a pitcher going four innings; the real point is that so long as he was not pulled for ineffectiveness, he could pick up the win. Examples follow.

May 22, 1909; at Cleveland
Washington 0 1 1 2 0 0 0 0 0 – 4 Johnson, 3 inn., WON; Hughes, 6 inn.
Cleveland   0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 – 1

Johnson was batted for in the fourth because he was not feeling well and could not continue.

May 8, 1912; at Washington
Chicago       2 0 1 1 2 1 0 0 0 – 7 Benz, 1-1/3 inn., WON; Walsh, 5-2/3 inn., Lange, 2 inn.
Washington  0 0 0 0 2 0 1 2 1 – 6

Joe Benz left this game because of an injury and the relief pitchers did not pitch particularly well, so in the judgment of the official scorer, he was the winner.

May 18, 1912; at Philadelphia
Detroit          0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 – 2
Philadelphia   3 0 3 0 8 4 4 2 x – 24 Coombs, 3 inn., WON; Brown, 3 inn., Pennock, 3 inn.

The fifth practice is very similar to Practice Number Four except for one main point. It works this way. Let’s say the starter for Team A is pitching strongly, but for any number of reasons except for poor pitching, he is forced to leave the game with his club ahead. The relief pitcher allows Team B to tie or go ahead, but then Team A rallies to win. If the starter has pitched at least four innings and was not driven from the box, he gets the win. This practice came down to a fine matter of judgment on the part of the official scorer, but it certainly shows up a lot in 1907-15. Examples follow.

April 20, 1912; at New York
Brooklyn  0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 – 3
New York 0 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 2 – 4 Tesreau, 8 inn., WON; Marquard, 1 inn.

Joe Wood and Jeff Tesreau, 1912 World Series.

Joe Wood and Jeff Tesreau, 1912 World Series.

The scoring practice used in this game cost Marquard a 20-game winning streak. Rube relieved Jeff Tesreau in the top of the ninth inning with the Giants in front 2-1. Two baserunners scored on a Giant fielding error, and they trailed 3-2. Although the Giants rallied to win, the decision was given to Tesreau. The 1913 Spalding Record Book says on page 55, “As Marquard faced but three batters in the 9th inning the game was given to Tesreau on the ground that he had done the bulk of the work and that he was fully entitled to any honor which might arise therefrom.”

April 11, 1907; at Philadelphia–14 innings
Boston        0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 0 4 – 8 Young, 8 inn., WON; Tannehill, 6 inn.
Philadelphia 0 0 1 0 0 0 2 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 – 4

Young was pinch-hit for in the ninth and left the game ahead 4-3. He had pitched strongly. The writeup of the game says Tannehill did not perform well in the ninth and allowed Philadelphia to tie.

September 20, 1912; at Detroit
Boston 0 0 0 1 3 0 0 0 0 – 4
Detroit 0 0 3 0 2 0 0 1 x – 6 Covington, 4 inn., WON; Lake, 5 inn.

Bill Covington had allowed only one hit through four innings when he was thrown out of the game by the umpire in the fifth. He left in front, 3-1. The official sheets, Reach Baseball Guide, and the New York Times all stated that Covington was awarded the victory. This game received a lot of attention because it was the end of Joe Wood’s 16-game winning streak.

August 15, 1913; at St. Louis
Boston   0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 – 2 Moseley, 6 inn ., WON; Hall, 3 inn.
St. Louis 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 – 1Charlie Hall, T207 card

I saved this game until last to show a slight variation in the practice. Here we have Earl Moseley allowing only one hit in six innings and being forced to leave because of an injury. He left with the game tied, but in the judgment of the scorer, he pitched longer and better than Charley Hall, and was primarily responsible for the victory.

The sixth practice was discovered by Paul MacFarlane of The Sporting News, who passed the information on to Cliff Kachline in January 1980. This practice started in 1913 and was reported in Sporting Life as follows: “Ban Johnson ruled that when a pitcher leaves the box at the end of an inning he shall not receive benefit of any runs made in the following inning. He says all runs should aid the reliever, not the previous pitcher.” The game on which Johnson ruled was played in St. Louis on July 16, 1913.

Washington 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 2 – 3 Boehling, 7 inn., Gallia, 0 inn., Hughes, 1 inn.; Johnson, 1 inn., WON
St. Louis     0 0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 – 2

This was part of Walter Johnson’s 14-game winning streak in 1913.

The seventh practice involves the relief pitcher being held responsible for the runners left on base by the starting starting or previous pitcher. During this period, if the runners he inherited represented the winning runs and the reliever prevented them from scoring, he was often credited with the victory (this would tie into Practice Three).

August 26, 1912; at Washington-second game
St. Louis     0 0 0 0 2 0 2 0 0 – 4
Washington 0 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 – 3 Hughes, 6-1/3 inn.; Johnson, 2-1/3 inn., LOST

Addie Joss, T3 card.

Addie Joss, T3 card.

Johnson was sent in to relieve Long Tom Hughes in the seventh inning with the score tied 2-2, one out, and two men on the bases. Johnson allowed both men to score and, as was the custom of the time, he was charged for both runs.

It now came down to who was more responsible for the defeat, Hughes or Johnson. There were those who would have given the defeat to Hughes so that Walter Johnson could continue his 16-game winning streak. Ban Johnson after a couple of days ruled that Walter Johnson was the loser because with the score tied, no matter how many men were left on base by his predecessor, Johnson would have been credited with a victory had his team won out. (Full details are on page 207 of the 1913 Reach Baseball Guide).

Although this decision could have gone the other way, there are enough examples of this type of game to make it definitely an individual practice. Cliff Kachline discovered the earliest form of this manner of awarding defeats:

May 4, 1904; at Detroit
Cleveland 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 – 2 Hickey, 4-1 /3 inn.; Joss, 4-2/3 inn., LOST
Detroit     0 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 0 – 3

John Hickey started this game, but left in the fifth inning with one out and the bases filled. Addie Joss relieved and allowed a triple by Charlie Carr of Detroit. This allowed the three winning runs to score and the defeat was charged to Joss. This is proven by the fact that the official A. L. records in the 1905 Reach Baseball Guide show Hickey with an 0-1 record in 1904. Hickey pitched a complete-game loss on April 16 against Chicago. Joss is shown with a 14-10 record.

The latest edition of Macmillan shows Joss at 14-9 in 1904 and Hickey at 0-2; they did not award this defeat to Joss. A complete game-by-game breakdown of both pitchers also proves Joss should be 14-10 and Hickey 0-1. The Sporting News Hall of Fame Fact Book has the correct record for Joss.

Babe Ruth Pitching

Babe Ruth Pitching

The eighth practice is one of the most interesting ones, involving the awarding of won-lost decisions in forfeited games. Pete Palmer was the first one to come across it in research he was doing on pitching records in the dead-ball era. Thanks to an excellent article on all forfeited games in the 1978 Baseball Research Journal by Paul Doherty, I was able to find a set pattern in both the American and National Leagues for the period 1901-19.

In all forfeited games from 1901 through 1925, won-lost decisions were awarded to pitchers. There were 20 such games during this period, of which nine were less than the regulation four and a half innings (the last such contest occurring in 1914). There were no forfeited games between 1925 and 1937. All baseball record books show complete won -lost decisions without mention of forfeits because the baseball guides and official sheets of that period included them in the pitchers’ tables.

In fact, it was not until 1940 that the Spalding Baseball Guide stated, “A new clause has been added to Section Eleven in which it is provided that no victory shall be credited nor defeat charged to a pitcher in a regulation game which the umpire has forfeited.”

July 6, 1913; at Chicag0–second game, stopped in fourth inning
St. Louis 3 1 0 x – 4 Sallee (St. L.), WON
Chicago  0 0 0 x – 0 Overall (Chi.), LOST

The ninth practice was based on the theory of charging the starting pitcher with the defeat if he was the one who allowed the most runs or could be held mainly responsible for the loss. It did not matter if his team tied the game or went ahead after he left–just that they lost because of him. This really came down to a matter of judgment on the part of the official scorer, but enough examples of the type exist to warrant it as a practice of that period. Examples:

September 26,1905; at Philadelphia–10 innings
Detroit        0 0 2 0 1 1 0 0 0 2 – 6
Philadelphia 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 0 – 4 Coakley, 7 inn., LOST; Dygert, 3 inn.

June 18, 1908; at Chicago
Boston  0 0 1 0 1 0 3 0 0 – 5 Patten, 3 inn., LOST; Burchell, 5 inn.
Chicago 0 1 4 0 0 0 0 1 x – 6

July 25, 1915; at St. Louis–first game
Boston    0 1 2 1 1 0 0 3 0 – 8 Ruth, 2-1/3 inn., LOST; Mays, 3-2/3 inn., Gregg, 2 inn.
St. Louis 0 0 4 3 0 0 2 0 x – 9

Ruth was charged with all four runs in the third inning.

The tenth practice was not as common as the others, but I believe I will find more games of this nature as my research continues. Basically, it came down to one-run games in which the starter left the game behind, but the reliever got the loss because he pitched poorly and allowed the deciding runs to score. The following examples will serve to illustrate:

September 11, 1912; at St. Louis
New York  0 0 1 0 1 0 1 2 0 – 5
St. Louis   0 0 0 0 0 0 0 4 0 – 4 Powell, 7 inn.; Baumgardner, 2 inn., LOST

Jack Powell had pitched very well for St. Louis, and the report of the game in the New York Times stresses that it was George Baumgardner who pitched poorly and allowed the two runs that provided the margin of victory for New York. It was felt that Baumgardner was more responsible for the loss than Powell.

October 3, 1914; at Boston
New York 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 – 3
Boston     0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 – 2 Shore, 7 inn.; Cooper, 2 inn. , LOST

Guy Cooper allowed the runs which were the margin of victory for New York. The Yankee run that scored in the first was due to fielding errors and was in no way the fault of Shore.

The eleventh and last practice awarded the decision to the middle-inning reliever when he pitched the best. Usually the reliever who finished the game strongly was given the win, but there were occasions when this did not happen.

July 22, 1915; at St. Louis
Boston      3 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 – 7 Foster, 1-2/3 inn., Mays, 6-1/3 inn., WON, Wood, 1 inn.
St. Louis    1 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 – 3

Mays went out for a pinch runner in the ninth, but his exit was not for poor pitching.

October 6, 1915; at New York–first game
Boston     0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 – 2 Shore, 1 inn., Leonard, 2 inn., WON, Wood, 3 inn., Mays, 3 inn.
New York 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 – 0

Hub Leonard allowed no hits in two innings.

I have not completed the American League for the period 1901-19 and a couple of more practices may yet emerge, but it is unlikely. Although there are many more examples than those cited in this article, space limitations prevent my listing all of them. There is no doubt that both the American and National Leagues used all but the first practice starting around 1905, but no mention of them appears in print until the editor of the 1910 Spalding Guide thought to bring them up for discussion by the Baseball Writers’ Association.

This story continues, and concludes, tomorrow.

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