Old News in Baseball, No. 6
Baseball is a comforting game, echoing the rhythms and events of games gone by and recalling the past, one’s own and the nation’s. Yet even for those who have witnessed thousands of games, baseball holds out the prospect on any given day of seeing something that’s never been seen before. This past week provided such a privilege, as the Padres’ Andrew Cashner, facing the Mets, became the first pitcher to give up ten or more hits while also striking out ten or more batters in fewer than five innings. On the very next day, in the very same ballpark, Mets rookie Noah Syndergaard did the same thing.
1875: In St. Louis‚ the Boston Red Stockings suffer their first defeat of the season after 26 victories and one draw. After the Browns’ pitcher George Bradley records the last out, the crowd rushes onto the field and lifts him to their shoulders. Boston will go 34–8 on the road and will win all 37 its home games, a level of success that spelled doom for the five-year-old National Association.
1890: Rookie Billy Rhines pitches Cincinnati to a 9-1 win over Pittsburgh. Rhines invented the “raise curve” or upshoot, made famous by Joe McGinnity, an underhand pitcher, or submariner, whose knuckles would almost scrape the ground. He described his specialty, the raise curve, as “the heritage of the old days of pitching—when no curves were known—combined with the outcurve of the present day.” In 1896, Sporting News reported, “the underhanded movement of Billy Rhynes [Rhines] … though an old swing, is new to the majority of major league batsmen, and therein lies its effectiveness.”
1914: Opelika (Georgia-Alabama League) pitcher John Cantley slugs three grand slams and a single for 15 RBIs in a game against Talladega‚ winning the contest 19-1. He won 17 games that year, too.
1892: President Benjamin Harrison watches Washington go down to a 7-4 defeat to Cincinnati in 11 innings. It marks the first visit to a ML game by a seated President. Ulysses S. Grant had attended the opening game of the new National League club in New York in 1883, but he had finished his second term in office some years earlier. For more, see: http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2014/02/26/our-baseball-presidents/
1934: Myril Hoag‚ subbing for Babe Ruth‚ records six singles in six at bats in the first game of a doubleheader with the Red Sox. The Yanks rout Lefty Grove and roll to a 15-3 win. For more, see: http://www.baseballinwartime.com/player_biographies/hoag_myril.htm
1972: Sadaharu Oh of the Yomiuri Giants hits home runs 499 and 500. At the end of his 22-year career, his home run total was 868.
1884: Charlie Sweeney of Providence strikes out 19 Boston Red Stockings to establish a major-league record for a nine-inning game. It will be tied a month later by Hugh “One Arm” Daily (whose 20th strikeout was not counted, by the rules of the day, because the batter reached first base), but not broken until Roger Clemens fans 20 on April 29‚ 1986. Sweeney would resign from the Providence club in July, compelling Hoss Radbourn to pitch nearly all of the club’s remaining games. For more, see: http://sabr.org/gamesproj/game/june-7-1884-sweeney-strikes-out-nineteen
1911: After two years on the vaudeville circuit with his wife Mabel Hite‚ “Turkey Mike” Donlin is reinstated by the National Commission. He rejoins the Giants‚ but after 12 games the .333 lifetime hitter is traded to the last-place NL Boston Rustlers.
1966: The New York Mets‚ picking first in the June free-agent draft‚ pass up Arizona State’s Reggie Jackson to select catcher Steve Chilcott. The A’s take Jackson with the 2nd pick. After six years in the minors Chilcott will retire as the only number-one pick never to play in the major leagues.
1876: The Chicago Tribune reports the following: “One of the stupidest ideas that ever entered into the head of base-ball managers is the new arrangement on the Hartford grounds‚ by which they refuse to permit the transmission of any report of the game by innings. As the ‘Courant’ well says‚ those who have been visitors to the bulletins are those who have an interest in the game‚ which is kept alive by their opportunity of watching the board‚ and the increased interest they have had has made them visitors to the games when a game of special interest has been played‚ or when they could get away from their business to attend. Not to continue the score by innings is to remove a very excellent and cheap feature of advertising‚ and‚ in a money way‚ to cause a loss to the ball manager.”
1921: Babe Ruth is arrested for speeding in New York‚ fined $100‚ and held in jail until 4:00 P.M. Game time is 3:15‚ so a uniform is taken to him. He changes in jail and follows a police escort to the ballpark where he enters with the Yankees trailing 3-2. They rally for a 4-3 win. This wild ride to the ballpark is echoed in 1928—although the destination is Yankee Stadium, not the Polo Grounds—in Harold Lloyd’s Speedy, in which Ruth plays himself. For more, see: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YpZiYOKQihg
1955: The Dodgers option P Tommy Lasorda to Montreal to make room on the roster for Sandy Koufax‚ who has been on the injury list. At this time, rules called for any “bonus baby”—an amateur signed for more than $4,000—to spend two years on a big-league roster.
1887: New York Metropolitans right fielder Jack “Candy” Nelson starts three double plays‚ two on throws to home and one to start an infield rundown. Only two other outfielders have tied this record: Jack McCarthy in 1905 (4/26/05) and Ira Flagstead in 1926.
1907: Throwing the only perfect game of his career‚ Weiser (Idaho) pitcher Walter Johnson beats Emmett‚ 11-0. He strikes out 14. The Washington Senators sign him in July of this year and he starts his first big-league game the following month.
1963: The Colt .45s beat the Giants 3-0 in the major leagues’ first Sunday night game. Today Sunday Night Baseball is an institution on national television. But on this date it is decidedly an exception to the rules, on account of Houston’s oppressive daytime heat. A Sunday night game had been scheduled in St. Louis for this very date in 1950, but Commissioner Happy Chandler ordered the Cardinals to cancel it.
1892: Wilbert Robinson‚ Baltimore Orioles catcher‚ goes 7-for-7 in a nine-inning game and, it is later accounted, drives in 11 runs‚ a record that stands until Jim Bottomley topped it in 1924. Pittsburgh’s Rennie Stennett tied the mark in 1975. In extra inning games, Detroit’s Cesar Gutierrez went 7-for-7 in 1970 and, in 1932, Cleveland’s Johnny Burnett collected nine hits in eleven at bats.
1944: Joe Nuxhall‚ only 15 years‚ 10 months old‚ pitches two-thirds of an inning in the Cincinnati Reds’ 18-0 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals. He allows five walks and two hits before manager Bill McKechnie pulls him. Nuxhall would return to the majors eight years later and become a successful starting pitcher. For many years it was thought only Fred Chapman‚ age 14‚ had been the youngest player in major-league history. However, later research revealed that the Chapman who pitched in the game of July 22‚ 1887‚ was actually Frank Chapman, age 25, whom the A’s had picked up from the Reading club in the Pennsylvania State Association. The youngest player to hit the big leagues and stick was 16-year-old Willie McGill, a little lefthander who pitched for Cleveland in the Players League of 1890.
1959: Rocky Colavito hits four consecutive home runs in Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium to lead the Indians to an 11-8 win. For more, see: http://sabr.org/research/four-homers-one-game
1902: Connie Mack signs Rube Waddell to a contract with the Philadelphia A’s. The Rube, a former big-leaguer, was pitching in the Pacific Coast League, where he had already won 12 games with Los Angeles. He did not pitch his first game for the A’s until June 26, then proceeded to win 10 games in July, a feat unmatched by any hurler in any month since. His 24 wins for the A’s came over a period of only 87 games the club played. For more, see: http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2011/06/29/rube-waddell-baseballs-peter-pan/
1947: Mel Ott, who broke in with the Giants at age 17, in 1926, makes his last appearance as a player. Pinch hitting for pitcher Ken Trinkle in New York’s 8-7 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates, the player-manager pops to short.
1995: Oakland’s Mark McGwire hits three consecutive home runs in an 8-1 win over the Red Sox. McGwire hit two homers yesterday‚ giving him a record-tying five in two consecutive games. He is the 15th player to do so (the first was Cap Anson), and with Ralph Kiner the only to do so twice. Bryce Harper did it last month. For more, see: http://www.baseball-almanac.com/recbooks/rb_hr5.shtml