Old News in Baseball, No. 4
This is getting to be a habit—one darn week after another—and there is so much great baseball history to share with you. “Old News” is chugging along, with this fourth entry featuring events of May 22-28. To this point we have steered clear of the generally dreary litany of birthdates and deathdates (although this may become impossible if we extend into the offseason). Old News could mean anything from last night’s box score to Abner Doubleday’s brainstorm (if he had actually had one). But most of the entries here will be from twenty years back to a century and more. “The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.” So wrote L.P. Hartley in The Go-Between, a 1953 novel. And because it is different, even in “the unchanging game,” one needs a guide, or a newsboy, to understand it.
1880: Jim Galvin makes his first appearance of the season for Buffalo‚ beating Cincinnati 2-1. Galvin had difficulty leaving California‚ where he had been playing for the San Francisco Athletics. He was forced to walk 36 miles at one point to avoid local detectives who were trying to hold him to his California League contract. In a little-known fact, Galvin, on May 17, 1876, had thrown the first perfect game in professional baseball history. For more, see: http://thisgameofgames.blogspot.com/2009/01/first-perfect-game.html
1935: After a ruling by Commissioner Landis in which he states that Alabama Pitts has paid his debt to society‚ the Albany Senators (IL) sign the parolee from Sing Sing prison. Pitts will have two hits in his first game but soon Albany will release him. He’ll sign with York (New York-Penn) and move on to the Charlotte Hornets (Carolina) on July 28‚ 1936. On June 7‚ 1941‚ Pitts will die after getting knifed in a barroom brawl. For more, see: http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/d7db6951
1959: Baltimore’s Hoyt Wilhelm continues his dominance over the Yankees. On this day he one-hits the Yankees 5-0‚ with Jerry Lumpe’s single in the 8th the spoiler. On May 28‚ he will beat the Yankees again‚ 5-0. On September 29 of the previous year, in a game I watched on television, Wilhelm no-hit the Yanks, 1-0, as the only run came on a home run by batterymate Gus Triandos.
1901: At Cleveland’s League Park‚ the Blues score nine runs after two outs in the ninth inning to defeat the Washington Nationals 14-13. Down to its last strike‚ Cleveland put the next ten men on base‚ winning the game on an error. Winning pitcher Bill Hoffer‚ who had given up the 13 runs‚ is carried off the field by the delirious crowd. This sort of thing has becomes a hallmark of the new American League in its first season as a major circuit: On Opening Day, April 25, the Tigers defeated Milwaukee by this same score of 14-13, scoring ten runs in the bottom of the ninth.
1906: In Oakland‚ the San Francisco Seals play the first Pacific Coast League game in the Bay Area since the earthquake‚ beating the Fresno Raisin Pickers‚ 4-3. Nearly a month earlier, on April 29, 1906, in a symbolic display of national unity, New York City’s ban on Sunday ball had been lifted so the Highlanders could play game against the Philadelphia Athletics to benefit victims of the San Francisco earthquake.
2002: At Miller Park in Milwaukee‚ the Dodgers’ Shawn Green sets an all-time record. He goes six-for-six, scoring six and driving in seven. Included among his six hits are four home runs, a double, and a single. His 19 total bases top Joe Adcock’s former mark of 18 set in 1954. Before today’s power display‚ Green had gone 0-for-15.
1880: Troy rookie Roger Connor hits his first ML home run‚ off Boston’s Tommy Bond in the bottom of the second inning with two men on. He adds a triple and two singles as the Trojans beat the Red Stockings‚ 8-1. When Connor retires in 1897 he will have 138 homers‚ a record that will stand until Babe Ruth breaks it on July 18, 1921. For more, see: http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/4ef2cfff
1935: The Cincinnati Reds host the Philadelphia Phillies in MLB’s first night game‚ winning 2-1 before a crowd of 24‚422. President Roosevelt throws the switch at the White House to turn on the lights. For more, see: http://research.sabr.org/journals/under-the-lights
1936: Yankees second baseman Tony Lazzeri sets several slugging marks with two grand slams‚ another homer, and a triple for 15 total bases in a 25-2 slaughter of the Athletics at Shibe Park. He also sets a new American League mark, still standing, of 11 RBIs in one game.
1871: The heavily favored Mutuals of New York are soundly defeated by the Haymakers of Troy‚ at the Union Grounds in Brooklyn‚ 25-10. Lipman Pike of Troy collects six hits.
1922: The U.S. Supreme Court‚ in a resounding 9-0 decision‚ rules that baseball is not an interstate business. The suit had been brought by the Federal League’s Baltimore franchise, disbanded after the 1915 season. For more, see Associate Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.’s account of the case: http://sabr.org/research/alito-origin-baseball-antitrust-exemption
1935: Babe Ruth has a last hurrah‚ hitting 3 home runs at Pittsburgh. The first shot is hit off Red Lucas‚ while the last two homers come off Guy Bush. The final one‚ the last of his 714 career HRs‚ is the first to clear the RF grandstand at Forbes Field and is measured at 600 feet. Bush said‚ ‘I never saw a ball hit so hard before or since. He was fat and old‚ but he still had that great swing. Even when he missed‚ you could hear the bat go swish. I can’t remember anything about the first home run he hit off me that day. I guess it was just another homer. But I can’t forget that last one. It’s probably still going.”
1940: The Reds receive their 1939 World Series rings from Commissioner Landis and then beat the Cardinals 1-0 on Paul Derringer’s one-hitter. In the stands are 21 fans who saw the 1869 champion Red Stockings in action.
1955: Dodgers pitcher Don Newcombe hits a triple and then steals home in the ninth inning in Pittsburgh. Newk was no speedster; he was running toward the plate on an attempted squeeze play by Jim Gilliam. On a pitchout to foil the squeeze, the ball got away from Bucs’ catcher Jack Shepard.
1959: Harvey Haddix of the Pirates pitches a perfect game against Milwaukee for 12 innings‚ only to lose in the 13th. Felix Mantilla opens the bottom of the 13th inning by reaching base on an error by third baseman Don Hoak. A sacrifice and an intentional walk to Hank Aaron brings up Joe Adcock‚ who hits one out of the park in right-center for an apparent 3-0 victory. Aaron pulls a “Merkle‚” leaving the field‚ and Adcock passes him on the basepaths. Both are called out as Mantilla scores. Initially the score is 2-0 as Aaron returns and scores; it is later called a 1-0 game. Lew Burdette goes all 13 innings for the win‚ scattering a dozen hits.
1897: In a 16-7 loss to Boston‚ the Reds player-manager Buck Ewing plays the last game in his 18-season career. Many at the time called him the greatest ballplayer of the century, exceeding even Cap Anson and King Kelly.
1959: National League President Warren Giles rules that the final score of the Harvey Haddix perfect game should be amended to 1-0. Adcock is credited with a double and not a home run.
1991: In a game against the Portland Beavers at Civic Stadium‚ Portland‚ Vancouver OF Rodney McCray runs through a plywood fence in right field while trying to catch a ball hit by Chip Hale. McCray was not hurt seriously‚ but becomes an instant celebrity. For more, see: http://m.mlb.com/video/v13110567/rodney-mccray-crashes-through-the-outfield-fence
1883: At New York’s first Polo Grounds‚ at Fifth Avenue between 110th and 112th Streets, heavyweight boxing champ John L. Sullivan pitches his team to a 20-15 victory in an exhibition of semipro teams. More than 4‚000 fans are on hand to watch Sullivan play. He collects three hits, commits four errors, and pockets half of the game proceeds: $1‚595. He will continue tplay in and umpire baseball games into the late 1890s.
1903: At Boston‚ the Pirates edge the home club‚ 7-6. Debuting for Pittsburgh is outfielder Reddy Grey. He goes 1-for-3 in his only big-league appearance. While with Rochester, he had formed one-third of the “Red Headed Outfield,” later made famous as a story by his brother, Zane Grey. For more, see: http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2011/11/13/old-well-well/
2005: In Phoenix‚ the Dodgers’ Luis Terrero‚ batting against reliever Duaner Sanchez‚ hits a bouncer up the middle that goes high over Sanchez’s head. Sanchez throws his glove at the ball and hits it‚ knocking it down. His throw to first is late but Terrero is awarded a nearly unique infield triple. We must say “nearly” because the “ground-rule triple” was awarded at least once before: on July 27, 1947, with the culprit being St. Louis Browns pitcher Fred Sanford.