Old News in Baseball, No. 10
Debuts and swan songs. Triumphs and tragedies. July 4th and the All-Star Game. Baseball and America, indivisible … let Walt Whitman take over for me now. In his last years, living in Camden, New Jersey, Whitman had a devoted admirer at his side, Horace Traubel, who invaluably recorded their conversations. Upon reading in the newspaper of April 7, 1889, that Albert Goodwill Spalding’s world tourists had returned home, Whitman said to Traubel:
“Did you see the baseball boys are home from their tour around the world? How I’d like to meet them—talk with them: maybe ask them some questions.”
Traubel replied, “Baseball is the hurrah game of the republic!”
[Whitman] was hilarious: “That’s beautiful: the hurrah game! well—it’s our game: that’s the chief fact in connection with it: America’s game: has the snap, go, fling, of the American atmosphere—belongs as much to our institutions, fits into them as significantly, as our constitutions, laws: is just as important in the sum total of our historic life.”
For more in this vein, see: http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2012/06/15/whitman-melville-and-baseball/
1912: Rube Marquard bests Nap Rucker 2-1 to capture his 19th straight game this season. With two end-of-year wins in 1911‚ the Giants’ lefthander and one-time “11,000 Lemon” has 21 in a row in regular season play. Both marks are records at the time, though the later is later topped by Carl Hubbell, with 24.
1921: In the Browns 5-1 loss to the White Sox, Jim Riley makes his big-league debut, replacing Jimmy Austin late in the game. The Canadian Riley will go hitless in four games with the Browns this season and a couple more with the Senators in 1923–but will finish second next year in scoring in the Pacific Coast Hockey Association. Riley will make his NHL debut with the Chicago Black Hawks on January 19, 1927; he is the only man to play in both MLB and the NHL.
1966: Pitcher Tony Cloninger hits two grand slams as the Braves rout the Giants at Candlestick Park 17-3. The Atlanta pitcher drove in another run with a single. His nine RBIs are a major-league record for pitchers‚ breaking Vic Raschi’s mark of seven. The National League record for pitchers was five—most recently by Cloninger himself, three weeks earlier.
1831: This may well be the earliest entry in Old News this year. In 1831 a group of Philadelphians in their mid-20s made the ferry ride across the Delaware River to Camden, New Jersey, to play town ball on Saturday afternoons. At the same time a club under the name “Olympic” convened to play town ball on the Fourth of July, and occasionally on other days as well. Following the example of the Saturday group, they began practicing on the same Camden grounds on Wednesdays. This led to a match game—among the earliest known, but with the results unrecorded. The two clubs merged in 1833 as the Olympic Ball Club of Philadelphia. For more, see: http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2013/05/29/a-reconstruction-of-philadelphia-town-ball/
1908: In the first game of a twin bill with the Phillies, Hooks Wiltse took a perfect game into the ninth inning and retired the first two batters. The last man up figured to be a pinch hitter for the weak-hitting pitcher, George McQuillan (lifetime batting average in ten seasons, .117). But McQuillan too had not allowed a run, so his manager permitted him to bat. Strike one. Strike two. Then poor Wiltse tried to get cute and threw an 0–2 hook to McQuillan … and hit him, erasing his perfect game. Although the Giants won the game in the tenth and Hooks retained his no-hitter, it was cold comfort. In the history of Major League Baseball, in which no-hitters foiled in the ninth are legion, there has never been another game like it.
1939: In between games with the Senators‚ Lou Gehrig bids farewell to 61‚808 fans at Yankee Stadium with a short and moving speech that begins: “Fans‚ for the past two weeks you have been reading about a bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.” Gehrig’s uniform number 4 is then retired‚ the first ML player so honored.
1898: Lizzie (Stroud) Arlington, with the blessings of Atlantic League president Ed Barrow, later famous as the general manager of the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees, pitches an inning for Reading against Allentown. She allows two hits but no runs in this first appearance of a woman in Organized Baseball. For more, see: http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2014/03/28/picture-portfolio-no-3-women-in-baseball/
1946: The first-place Dodgers lose to the last-place Giants‚ 7-6‚ but not before Bums manager Durocher utters a now-famous line in a pregame conversation with Red Barber, who calls Giants manager Me Ott “a nice guy.” The Lip retorts‚ “A nice guy? I’ve been in baseball a long time. Do you know a nicer guy in the world than Mel Ott? He’s a nice guy. In last place. Where am I? In first place. The nice guys are over there in last place‚ not in this dugout.”
2004: The Dodgers defeat the Diamondbacks‚ 6-5 in 10 innings‚ but closer Eric Gagne gives up two runs in the ninth inning as Arizona ties the score at 5-5. Thus his streak of 84 consecutive saves finally ends.
1898: Erasmus Arlington “Arlie” Pond pitches Baltimore to a 15-0 win over Philadelphia in his last game before entering the Army Medical Corps as an assistant surgeon. For more, see: http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/2d68aec2
1933: The first All-Star Game is played at Comiskey Park. Babe Ruth’s two-run homer is the margin of victory in the American League’s 4-2 win. Lefty Gomez‚ the starter and winner‚ also knocks in the game’s first run.
1983: In the 50th anniversary All-Star Game at Chicago’s Comiskey Park‚ the AL routs the NL 13-3 for its first win since 1971, breaking the game open with seven runs in the fourth inning. The key blow is Fred Lynn’s grand slam—the first in All-Star competition and, all these years later, the only.
1900: Boston’s ace Kid Nichols notches his 300th career victory‚ beating Chicago 11-4. The win comes two months before his 31st birthday‚ making him the youngest to ever reach the magic figure. Nichols would finish his career with a mark of 361-208. For more, see: http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2012/07/10/kid-nichols-in-his-own-words/
1914: Suffering heavy losses from Federal League competition in Baltimore‚ Jack Dunn, owner of the International League’s Baltimore Orioles, offers Babe Ruth (plus pitcher Ernie Shore and catcher Ben Egan) for $10‚000 to old friend Connie Mack‚ who declines‚ pleading poverty. Cincinnati‚ which has a working agreement giving them the choice of 2 players‚ ignores Ruth and takes outfielder George Twombley and shortstop Claud Derrick. Dunn finally peddles his threesome to the Red Sox.
1948: The Cleveland Indians sign Satchel Paige‚ Negro League star of indeterminate age, thought to be 42. The move is ridiculed by some as a Bill Veeck publicity stunt‚ and J.G. Spink in The Sporting News editorializes‚ “Veeck has gone too far in his quest for publicity. . . . To sign a hurler at Paige’s age is to demean the standards of baseball in the big circuits.” Paige will answer the critics tomorrow with a relief win in an 8-6 triumph over New York. He will finish with a mark of 6-1.
1902: John McGraw negotiates his release from the Orioles and officially signs to manage the Giants at $11‚000 a year‚ although he’d secretly signed a contract several days earlier. McGraw says‚ “I wish to state that I shall not tamper with any of the Baltimore club’s players.” But conspiring with Reds owner Brush and Giants owner Andrew Freedman‚ McGraw swings the Orioles to them‚ enabling them to release Orioles Dan McGann‚ Roger Bresnahan‚ Joe McGinnity‚ and Jack Cronin for signing by the Giants, while Joe Kelley and Cy Seymour go to the Reds. Denuded of players, the Orioles will fail to field a club for a scheduled game and their franchise will be taken over by the American League. Brush, Freedman, and McGraw do not care. The culmination of this farce is the birth of the New York Yankees in 1903. For more, see: http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2012/02/29/the-house-that-mcgraw-built/
1918: Although Babe Ruth’s tenth-inning blast over the fence in Fenway scores Amos Strunk in the Red Sox win 1-0 over Cleveland‚ the prevailing rules reduce Babe’s home run to a triple. Such “sudden-death” home runs came in for review by the Special Baseball Records Committee prior to publication of the Macmillan/ICI encyclopedia of 1969: Its ruling read: “The committee originally voted that before 1920 any ball hit outside the park in a sudden death situation should be counted as a home run. However, after the committee had a further opportunity to review their ruling and [realizing that this would alter Ruth’s career total to 715] … they reversed their decision on May 5, 1969.” For more, see: http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2015/05/04/why-is-the-national-association-not-a-major-league-and-other-records-issues/
1962: With homers in his first three at bats‚ 41-year-old Stan Musial of the Cardinals not only becomes the oldest player to hit three in a game but also ties the record of four straight home runs‚ as the Cards whip the Mets 15-1. Until today Ty Cobb had been the oldest, at age 38.
1886: Joe Start, known as “Old Reliable,” plays his last game. The 43-year-old first baseman began his career in 1860, a decade before professional league play and the dawn of modern recordkeeping. With 27 years of play at the top echelons of baseball, Start’s tenure equals that of Cap Anson and Nolan Ryan.
1945: At Washington‚ the Senators defeat the Brooklyn Dodgers‚ 4-3‚ in an exhibition game. The game’s winning pitcher is Bert Shepard‚ who had lost a leg in military service. Shepard pitches four innings and gives up two runs. On August 4 he will make his lone appearance in a regularly scheduled game, against the Red Sox, with an impressive pitching line of 5.1 IP, 3 H, 2 SO, 1 BB, 1 ER.
2005: Adam Greenberg makes his major-league debut with the Chicago Cubs in the 9th inning of a game in Miami and is hit in the head by the first pitch he sees from Valerio de los Santos. Greenberg will go on the DL‚ then go to the minors‚ then be released on November. Greenberg returns to play minor-league ball but does not return to a big-league roster until 2012, when Miami signs him and sends him to the plate for one final turn at the bat.