Old News in Baseball, No. 7
A few days ago, courtesy of a nameless headline writer at a newspaper in Bend, Oregon, baseball fans were apprised of yet another historic first: an amphibious pitcher. As you will see from an entry below, Pat Venditte is not the first ambidextrous hurler in MLB history: he was preceded by Tony Mullane, Larry Corcoran, Icebox Chamberlain, and Greg Harris. The Associated Press writer of the underlying story used the correct term for Venditte, who had just been called up to the Oakland A’s, but his story is already fish-wrap while the headline is assured of baseball immortality. Another of this week’s entries below, in which Phillies manager George Stallings is replaced by the club secretary, will resonate with fans of the Miami Marlins.
1880: Lee Richmond pitches the first perfect game in major-league history‚ leading Worcester to a 1-0 victory over Cleveland. Right fielder Lon Knight saves the no-hitter by throwing out Cleveland’s Bill Phillips at first base. For more, see: http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2015/05/13/j-lee-richmonds-remarkable-1879-season/
1888: Frank Pidgeon‚ captain of the Brooklyn Eckfords in the 1850s and the game’s greatest pitcher before Jim Creighton, is killed by a train in New York City while walking along the tracks. For more, see: http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2011/10/03/finding-frank-pidgeon/
1939: The Baseball Hall of Fame opens its doors to the public in the greatest gathering of members and future inductees ever. The Hall named its first five inductees in 1936—Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Honus Wagner, and Christy Mathewson–and added more worthies in each of the ensuing years. Twelve living honorees were present but in the accompanying photo Cobb, who arrived late, is absent.
1887: Sportswriter O. P. Caylor takes over as manager of the Mets. Caylor had managed Cincinnati in 1885 and 1886 while writing for the Cincinnati Enquirer; now he is editor of the National Baseball Daily Gazette, a short-lived paper.
1889: After the Colonels lose for the 19th time‚ Louisville owner-manager Mordecai Davidson tells the players he will fine them $25 if they lose the next game. Six players will refuse to play tomorrow against Baltimore. They had to be replaced by local amateurs for the next game, which, unsurprisingly, Louisville lost.
1962: Sandy Koufax hits his first of two big-league home runs‚ off future Hall of Famer Warren Spahn. It is the winning blow in the 2-1 win at Milwaukee.
1870: After a streak of 89 wins against top-rank clubs dating back to 1868, the Cincinnati Red Stockings lose 8-7 to the Atlantics of Brooklyn in what I believe to be the greatest game ever played. With the game tied at the end of the ninth inning, 5-5, Reds captain Harry Wright turns down the Atlantics’ offer of a draw, which would have rendered all bets moot. When the Reds scored twice in the eleventh, it appeared that victory would be theirs. But the Atlantics rallied for three runs and the game. A key play occurred when an exuberant Brooklyn spectator jumped on the back of Cal McVey as he was in the act of fielding a fairly hit ball, thereby permitting a run to score. After the game a telegram to Cincinnati is sent:
“The finest game ever played. Our boys did nobly but fortune was against us. Eleven innings played. Though beaten‚ not disgraced. (signed) A.B. Champion‚ Cincinnati Baseball Club.”
1957: With the bases loaded. Jim Gilliam swipes home with the winning run in the 10th inning to give the Dodgers a 2-1 win over the Cardinals.
1965: After pitching no-hit ball through 10 innings and fanning 18, Cincinnati’s Jim Maloney allows a leadoff home run to the Mets’ Johnny Lewis in the 11th inning and loses a heartbreaker, 1-0. He is the first pitcher since Harvey Haddix in 1959 to lose a no-hitter in extra innings.
1872: During the Athletics-Atlantics game‚ Tom Barlow bunts the ball and reaches first safely. The New York Clipper describes the play: “After the first two strikers had been retired‚ Barlow‚ amid much laughter and applause‚ ‘blocked’ a ball in front of the home plate and reached first base before the ball did.” Barlow would later, after an injury, become addicted to morphine. For more, see: http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2013/11/20/some-basball-tricks-the-unfair-means-by-which-some-games-were-won-in-the-1860s/
1895: Future novelist Zane Grey makes his minor league debut playing left field for Findlay‚ Ohio‚ against Wheeling (Tri State League). The Pennsylvania University athlete‚ playing under the name Zane‚ fails to get a hit‚ but walks and scores on a grand slam by brother Romer “Reddy” Grey, subsequently immortalized as one of three in “The Redheaded Outfield.” For more, see: http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2011/11/13/old-well-well/
1902: Corsicana (Texas League) shows no mercy in beating Texarkana‚ 51-3. Due to a Sunday laws forbidding baseball‚ the game is shifted to a smaller park in Ennis. The team’s 53 hits include 21 home runs. Jay Justin “Nig” Clarke goes 8-for-8, with all of them home runs‚ collecting 16 RBIs and 32 total bases.
1857: The Tri-Mountain Baseball club is organized in Boston by Edward Saltzman‚ but not to play by the customary Massachusetts Game rules. Recently removed from New York, Saltzman had played on the Gotham Base Ball Club. Not finding any teams in Boston playing “The New York Game” he taught some friends the rules and formed the club. For more, see: http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2012/07/06/early-baseball-in-boston/
1884: Chicago’s Larry Corcoran pitches both left- and right-handed in a league game game against Buffalo. Trying to alleviate pain from an inflammation on his right index finger‚Corcoran alternates sides. Hit hard‚ he is lifted after four innings. Cincinnati’s Tony Mullane had preceded him in this stunt two years earlier.
1989: Rick Wolff‚ a former Harvard player and, at age 37, editor of Macmillan’s The Baseball Encyclopedia, writes an article on minor-league baseball for Sports Illustrated. The subject: his three-day stint playing second base for the South Bend White Sox (Midwest League). He goes 4-for-7 against the Burlington Braves.
1871: Civil War hero Abner Doubleday‚ now a Colonel in command of the 24th U.S. Infantry’s “Colored Regiment” at Fort McKavett‚ Texas addresses a request to General E.D. Townsend‚ Adjutant General‚ U.S. Army‚ Washington‚ D.C.: “I have the honor to apply for permission to purchase for the Regimental Library a few portraits of distinguished generals‚ Battle pictures‚ and some of Rogers groups of Statuary particularly those relative to the actions of the Colored population of the south. This being a colored regiment ornaments of this kind seem very appropriate. I would also like to purchase baseball implements for the amusement of the men and a Magic Lantern for the same purpose. The fund is ample and I think these expenditures would add to the happiness of the men.” This is the full extent of Doubleday’s documented relationship to baseball.
1880: In the second perfect game in six days, John Montgomery Ward pitches a classic in Providence against Buffalo‚ winning 5-0. Losing pitcher Pud Galvin makes the last out. Oddly, Galvin had pitched the first perfect game in professional baseball in 1876, outside the National League. For more, see: http://thisgameofgames.blogspot.com/2009/01/first-perfect-game.html
1978: Ron Guidry strikes out 18 batters—with 15 coming in the first six innings–in a four-hit shutout of the Angels‚ setting an AL record for lefthanders. The victory raises his record to 11-0, on the way to a record of 25-3, a Cy Young Award, and second place in the MVP balloting.
1898: After the players mutiny and refuse to play‚ Philadelphia deposes rookie manager George Stallings. His replacement, club secretary Bill Shettsline‚ finishes 15 games above .500 for the remaining 103 games in the season.
1919: At Boston‚ St. Louis Browns third baseman Jimmy Austin ends the game by nabbing Sox runner Wally Schang with the hidden ball trick. The Browns win‚ 3-2. For more, see: http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2015/06/09/the-oldest-trick-in-the-book/
1962: One day after the Cubs’ Lou Brock drove a home run into the left-center-field bleachers at the Polo Grounds, Hank Aaron does it too. Before this, only Joe Adcock of the Braves had accomplished the feat, in 1954.