Old News in Baseball, No. 2
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. “Old News” is back, this time focusing on events from the week of May 8-14. I’ll relate what happened, why I think it’s interesting, and where you might find out a bit more if you’re so inclined. I do not claim to identify the two or three “greatest” moments on a particular date, only those that interest me at this moment. And as always there are pictures. I am indebted, as usual, to the efforts of SABR researchers and that splendid reference source, Jim Charlton’s Baseball Chronology.
1878: Providence center fielder Paul Hines pulls off a spectacular and, in my view, unassisted triple play. With men on second and third and none out in the eighth inning‚ Boston’s “Black Jack” Burdock hits a humpack liner over shortstop as both runners take off. Hines‚ racing in‚ catches the ball at his shoetops, stays on his feet, and keeps running to touch third base. This retires the runner who started on third base‚ but did it retire the runner who started on second base but had already rounded third? By today’s rules, no. By 1878 rules, yes. So in this year the forgotten star registers, at the bat, baseball’s first triple crown; and in the field, its first triple play: For more, see: http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2015/05/05/paul-hines-and-the-unassisted-triple-play/
1961: At a ceremony at the Savoy Hilton‚ the New York expansion entry into the National League is officially named the “Mets”—not Metropolitans‚ the name of its big-league predecessor of the 1880s, just Mets. “Mets” was the choice among ten finalists: Continentals‚ Burros‚ Mets‚ Skyliners‚ Skyscrapers‚ Bees‚ Rebels‚ NYBs‚ Avengers‚ and Jets. The full poll yielded 644 names from among 9‚613 suggestions.
1968: Oakland’s 22-year-old Catfish Hunter throws a perfect game against the Twins‚ winning 4-0. This is the first American League regular-season perfecto since Charley Robertson threw one in 1922. Hunter strikes out eleven‚ including Harmon Killebrew three times‚ and drives in three of the A’s four runs.
1888: With an 18-6 lead after 7 innings‚ Louisville righthander Elton Chamberlain pitches the final two innings lefthanded‚ holding Kansas City scoreless. (Other documented practitioners of big-league pitching ambidexterity include Tony Mullane, Larry Corcoran, disputedly John Roach, and Greg Harris). Chamberlain’s immortal nickname was “Icebox” or “Icy” because of the cool demeanor with which he would snatch flies from the air while in the pitcher’s box … and then eat them.
1896: Washington defeats Pittsburgh 14-9 in a beanball battle. Nationals pitcher Win Mercer hits three Pittsburgh batters while Pirate Emerson “Pink” Hawley plunks three Washington batters in the seventh inning alone, tying a mark he set on July 4‚ 1894. Hawley was a twin who was tagged with a pink ribbon as an infant to distinguish him from his twin brother Elmer (who went on to be nicknamed “Blue,” natch). The two formed a baseball battery in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin.
1961: Jim Gentile of Baltimore becomes the third player to hit grand slams in consecutive innings (Tony Lazzeri in 1936‚ Jim Tabor in 1939 when he belts one off Pedro Ramos in the first and adds another off Paul Giel in the second. He will finish the year with 141 RBIs, second to Roger Maris’s 142; but more than half a century later, Maris loses an RBI because research revealed that he was credited with one while grounding into a double play. Gentile today shares the RBI title for this year. For more, see: http://www.baseball-reference.com/blog/archives/7582
1904: The Cards score five runs in the first inning off Christy Mathewson‚ sending him to the showers. Matty will not lose to St. Louis again until 1909, a span of 24 decisions.
1909: Organized Baseball’s longest no-hitter takes place in a Blue Grass League contest between the Lexington Colts and the Winchester Hustlers. Fred Toney‚ who eight years would win in MLB’s only double no-hitter‚ throws a 17-inning no-hitter for Winchester‚ winning 1-0. He fans 19 opponents and walks only one‚ in beating Lexington’s Baker‚ who allows 7 hits. For more, see: http://research.sabr.org/journals/17-inning-no-hitter.
1999: The Red Sox pound the Mariners‚ 12-4‚ as SS Nomar Garciaparra leads the way with 3 HRs‚ including 2 grand slams. Garciaparra drives home 10 of Boston’s runs as he clouts a bases loaded homer in the 1st‚ a 2-run shot in the 3rd‚ and another grand slam in the 8th. Nomar is one of thirteen men with two grand slams in a game. (One of these is a pitcher, Tony Cloninger, on July 3, 1966.)
1927: In St. Louis‚ Ruth belts his second homer in 2 days and his 8th of the year‚ off Ernie Nevers of the St. Louis Browns, better known for his football exploits. The ball is to the left of the CF flagpole in Sportsman’s Park. Two years later Nevers would, on November 28, 1929, score every one of his team’s points (six touchdowns and four extra point conversions) in a 40-6 rout of the Chicago Bears.
1937: White Sox pitcher Monty Stratton allows 7 hits in defeating the Yankees‚ 7-2. In the offseason of the following year, Stratton would lose his leg in 1938 as the result of a hunting accident. He resumed pitching in the minor leagues with a wooden leg, winning 18 in the East Texas League in 1946. He is the subject of the 1949 movie, The Stratton Story.
1980: In a 7-3 win over the Reds‚ Philadelphia’s Pete Rose‚ at age 39, steals second, third, and home in one inning. The last National Leaguer to pull this feat was Jackie Robinson in 1954. Ty Cobb did it three times, Honus Wagner four.
1911: Against the Yankees at Bennett Park in Detroit‚ Ty Cobb doubles home two runs in the seventh frame to tie the game. When New York catcher Ed Sweeney vehemently argues the call at the plate‚ the rest of the infield gathers. With no time out called‚ Cobb strolls to third base‚ and then ambles in to observe the continuing argument. When he spots an opening in the circle of players‚ he quickly touches home plate with the go-ahead run. The Tigers win‚ 6-5.
1955: Sam “Toothpick” Jones of the Cubs takes a no-hitter into the ninth inning against the Pirates, the walks the first three batters. Hitching up his pants, he fans the next three—Dick Groat, Roberto Clemente, and Frank Thomas.
1962: New York Mets relief P Craig Anderson wins both games of a doubleheader against the Milwaukee Braves to go 3-1. He will not win another game in the big leagues losing his next 19 decisions‚ 16 of them this season. Ninth-inning game-ending homers win the games. Hobie Landrith hits a 258-foot two-run homer that scrapes the top deck in right field, off Warren Spahn in the opening 3-2 win. In the second game, Gil Hodges hits a homer in the ninth for the 9-8 victory. It is the first time in history that a doubleheader has ended with two walkoff homers. And I was there, at age 15! For more, see: http://www.hardballtimes.com/craig-andersons-greatest-day/.
1882: National League players are relieved to learn that they will no longer be required to wear the motley “jockey costume,” a silk jersey differentiating each player according to his position in the field, with common stocking colors assigned to each team by the league. A player rebellion against the absurdity of the garments (and the unbearable warmth of the silk) brings an end to the experiment for 1882, yet it is revived for 1883.
1912: A Western Union telegraph operator named Lou Proctor inserts his name into the Browns-Red Sox box score as a pinch hitter (giving himself a walk in his at bat). The Sporting News will publish the box score and‚ years later‚ Proctor’s name will appear in the first edition of The Baseball Encyclopedia. For more, see: http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2014/07/17/phantom-ballplayers/
1923: In a 5-2 Cleveland win‚ Washington rookie Wally Warmoth strikes out Cleveland shortstop Joe Sewell twice. In 1932 Swell would fan three times all season, in 576 plate appearances.
1929: In Cleveland‚ fans have no trouble telling the players apart‚ as both the Indians and the visiting Yankees wear numbers on their uniform backs. This is a first in the majors.
1939: Too bad this one is not in time for Mother’s Day, 2015. Bob Feller’s mother travels from Iowa to watch her son pitch against the White Sox. It is the first time she’s seen him play in the majors‚ and she is given a box along the first-base line at Comiskey Park. Sox 3B Marv Owen then lines a Feller fast ball that inflicts a deep gash and knocks Mrs. Feller unconscious. She is taken to the hospital and receives six stitches. Her son stays in and wins the game, 9-4.
1972: In front of a Mother’s Day crowd of 35‚000‚ Willie Mays marks his first game in a New York uniform since 1957 with a game-winning home run against his old teammates. Playing first base for the Mets and leading off, Mays walked in his first time up and scored on Rusty Staub’s grand slam. His solo blast in the fifth frame snaps a 4-4 tie and the Mets hold on to win 5-4. (Ten years after seeing the Mets win that doubleheader—see above—I am present for this momentous event, too.)