Old News in Baseball, No. 9

Newsboy logoWell, last week was the week that was … and in this column, so is next week. The past is present, especially in baseball, reflected in current events and providing background and context that illuminates the shadows. Speed up the game? Well, we have heard about that since the 1850s, when called strikes were introduced to deter batters from delaying the game by letting good pitches go by; and then a few years later, when the advent of called balls was designed to deter pitcher dallying. The proposed “20-second” rule, designed to have pitchers get on with the show, has been on the books since … 1901: “The umpire shall call a ball on the pitcher each time he delays the game by failing to deliver the ball to the batsman when in position for a longer period than 20 seconds.” Can things go too far in the name of speeding up the game? Read the entry below for June 27, 1911!

June 26:

1886: African-American lefthander George Stovey makes his pitching debut with Jersey City of the Eastern League after being purchased from the Cuban Giants. On July 14, as the directors of the integrated International League were discussing the circuit’s troubled racial situation in Buffalo, the Newark Little Giants planned to pitch Stovey in an exhibition game against the NL’s Chicago White Stockings. The Toronto World reported that “Hackett intended putting Stovey in the box against the Chicagos, but Anson objected to his playing on ac¬count of his color.” Stovey did not pitch, but Newark won, 9-4. For more, see: http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2014/08/20/out-at-home-part-3/

Cleveland 1916

Cleveland 1916

1916: Cleveland players‚ in a game with the White Sox‚ wear numbers pinned to their sleeves‚ marking the first time players are identified by numbers corresponding to those on the scorecard. The practice is not broadly customary, however, until the late 1920s, after the Yankees affix numbers to the backs of their jerseys.

1944: More than 50‚000 pack the Polo Grounds to watch the Yankees‚ Dodgers and Giants play each other in a 6-inning round-robin contest to raise money for war bonds. Each team plays successive innings against the other two teams‚ then sits out an inning. The final score is Dodgers 5‚ Yankees 1‚ Giants‚ 0. This game was a precursor of the Mayor’s Trophy series, which began in 1946. The notion of a postseason city series dates to 1882.

June 27:

1911: In the seventh inning at Boston‚ the A’s Stuffy McInnis steps into the batter’s box to lead off and hits Ed Karger’s warm-up pitch for an inside-the-park home run while the Red Sox are still taking their positions. Boston manager Patsy Donovan protests, but umpire Ben Egan upholds the homer on the basis of Ban Johnson’s new rule prohibiting warmup pitches. Intended to save time, the rule—which dictated that pitchers must throw as soon as the batter is in the box—is soon withdrawn.

1955: Boston’s young star 1B Harry Agganis dies of complications following a bout with pneumonia, age 26. The “Golden Greek” was hitting .313 this season in 25 games. His last appearance was in a May 15 doubleheader when he stroked five hits.

Harry Agganis, Topps 1955

Harry Agganis, Topps 1955

1958: In a bid for a perfect no-hitter‚ Billy Pierce of the White Sox retires 26 Washington Senators in a row before pinch-hitter Ed Fitzgerald doubles. Pierce then fans Albie Pearson to win‚ 3-0. Other perfect games lost with two outs in the ninth: Max Scherzer just last week; Armando Galarraga, Yusmeiro Petit and Yu Darvish (2013); Mike Mussina (2001); Ron Holman (1990): Dave Steib (1989); Ron Robinson (1988); Milt Wilcox (1983); Milt Pappas (1972); Tommy Bridges (1932); Hooks Wiltse (1908).

Babe Ruth, George Bush, Yale 1947

Babe Ruth, George Bush, Yale 1947

June 28:

1999: Hack Wilson ups his RBI total for the 1930 season to 191, reflecting SABR research commenced in 1977. The Commissioner’s office also gives Babe Ruth six additional walks‚ raising his career-record total to 2‚062. “There is no doubt that Hack Wilson’s RBI total should be 191‚” Commissioner Bud Selig said. “I am sensitive to the historical significance that accompanies the correction of such a prestigious record‚ especially after so many years have passed‚ but it is important to get it right.” When 1980 research revealed that Ty Cobb’s hit total was inflated by a double entered 2-for-4 in 1910, Commissioner Bowie Kuhn declared a “statute of limitations” on historical investigation. For more, see: http://goo.gl/xqDoYl

1947: California wins the initial College World Series with an 8-7 victory over Yale. Cal freshman pitcher Jackie Jensen, who will later star in the majors, is staked to a 7-3 lead, but is relieved after a bout of wildness. Yale first sacker George Bush has no hits in the two games, but scores a run and makes 17 putouts with no errors.

1915: Recent University of Michigan graduate George Sisler makes his big-league debut as a pinch hitter. Sisler stays on to pitch the last three innings‚ giving up no runs‚ in the Browns 4-2 loss to the White Sox. For more, see: http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2013/01/07/george-sisler-remembers/

Moonlight Graham, by Helmar Cards

Moonlight Graham, by Helmar Cards

June 29:

1990: Oakland’s Dave Stewart and the Dodgers’ Fernando Valenzuela both throw no-hitters today‚ the first time this has happened since Hippo Vaughan and Fred Toney’s double no-hitter of May 2, 1917. Stewart blanks the Blue Jays 5-0‚ and a few hours later Valenzuela beats the Cardinals 6-0. For more, see: http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2012/02/04/thinking-about-football/

1905: At Brooklyn‚ the Giants score seven runs in the first three innings to coast to an 11-1 victory. Dan McGann paces the offense with a triple and homer‚ while Moonlight Graham‚ in his only game in the majors‚ takes over in right field as a late inning replacement. Graham will have no at-bats but will be made famous in W. P. Kinsella’s Field of Dreams.

1897: The Chicago Colts score in every inning to demolish Louisville 36-7 while setting the NL record for runs scored. Chicago amasses 32 hits good for 51 bases with Barry McCormick hitting 4 singles‚ a triple‚ and a homer.

1886: Sid Farrar’s grand slam gives the Phillies a 4-2 decision over the Whites. Farrar’s grandest contribution, however, was to father opera and film star Geraldine Farrar (1882-1967).

Letter to Waitkus, Ruth Sternhagen

Letter to Waitkus, Ruth Steinhagen

June 30:

1998: Mark McGwire belts his 37th homer of the year‚ tying Reggie Jackson’s record for most homers before the All-Star break. The homer is a 472-ft upper deck shot off Kansas City’s Glendon Rusch.

1949: In Chicago‚ Ruth Ann Steinhagen is arraigned for shooting Eddie Waitkus. Waitkus‚ in a wheel chair‚ testifies at the hearing. A jury finds her criminally insane and by early afternoon she is on her way to Kankakee State mental hospital. The Waitkus shooting inspired Bernard Malamud’s novel, and the later film made from it, The Natural.

1905: Nap Lajoie is sidelined by blood poisoning from neglect of a spike wound. He will play in only 65 games‚ losing a chance to lead the AL in batting for the fifth straight year. The infection was thought to have been caused by the red stocking his club wore; in subsequent years, ballplayers would swap their colored hose for stirrups, worn over white sanitary stockings.

July 1:

1945: Hank Greenberg‚ absent from the game for four years because of his early enlistment in the war effort, homers in his first game following his release from the Army.

1941: Despite the 95 degree weather‚ 52‚832 are on hand at Yankee Stadium to watch Joe DiMaggio lead a sweep of the Red Sox‚ 7-2 and 9-2. DiMaggio has two hits in the first game‚ off Mike Ryba‚ and one in the 2nd‚ off Jack Wilson‚ to tie Willie Keeler’s batting streak of 44 games. Fortunately for Joe, he gets his second-game hit early, as the contest is stopped after five frames.

Amherst-Williams 1859

Amherst-Williams 1859

1859: The first intercollegiate baseball match is played between Amherst and Williams colleges at Pittsfield‚ MA. Amherst wins the 26-inning game by a score of 73-32. Then why did the game take 26 innings, you ask? Because it was played under “Massachusetts Game Rules,” in whichan inning is one-out, side out. For more, see: http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2012/12/04/the-first-intercollegiate-ball-game-1859/

July 2:

1963: In a classic pitching matchup in San Francisco, Juan Marichal prevails over Warren Spahn 1-0 in 16 innings. Both pitchers go all the way. Willie Mays’s homer off Spahn at 12:31 A.M., with one out in the bottom of the 16th, gives Marichal the edge.

1903: Seeing that George Davis is playing for the Giants‚ Ed Delahanty decides to jump to New York too. Leaving the Washington Senators in Detroit‚ he boards an eastbound train. He is put off the train for rowdy‚ and possibly drunken‚ behavior at Niagara Falls. When he tries to walk across the railroad bridge over the Niagara River‚ he falls to his death. Delahanty had a .346 lifetime batting average over 16 seasons.

1885: Against New York‚ Detroit right fielder Gene Moriarty injures himself chasing a foul fly in the sixth inning. He is replaced by 25-year-old Sam Thompson in his big-league debut. The future Hall of Famer was an RBI machine in the years before they were officially counted, three times driving in more runs that he played games.

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