Old News in Baseball, No. 18

Newsboy logoPennant races are heating up, with clubs long absent from contention stealing the scene. But in the shadow world of the past, baseball presents great stories, too. Faded stars revive for a last hurrah; home run heroes are brought low; and a perfect game is spoiled with only one strike to go. Only in baseball among all our sports does the past vibrate silently alongside the present, not competing for attention but enriching the life of the fan.

August 28

1889: The second place New York Giants defeat the last-place Washington Senators twice, winning, 16-3 and 7-5. Playing for the Statesmen in the opener is Harry Corson Clarke, a long-time thespian, who is 0-for-3 in his lone big-league appearance. Clarke is in the circle of DeWolf Hopper, Francis Wilson, and Digby Bell, among other baseball-loving actors who played for the Actors’ Amateur Athletic Association of America—or the 5A team, for short. For more, see: http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/43a21ee5

1926: The Indians use the same lineup in 2 victories over the Red Sox‚ including Emil Levsen‚ who pitches the 6-1 and 5-1 sweep. After allowing only four hits in the opener, he offers to pitch the nightcap, too, and manager Tris Speaker lets him. Levsen again allows four hits and no walks‚ becoming the last pitcher to throw two complete games in a day. For more, see: http://research.sabr.org/journals/iron-man-pitching

1969: At a press conference in New York‚ Commissioner Bowie Kuhn announces the publication of The Baseball Encyclopedia, the first such encyclopedia offering complete player statistics—and the first book ever typeset by computer. For more, see: http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2014/07/24/major-league-baseball-record-keeping-part-2/

August 29

1887: Denny Lyons of the Athletics is held hitless for the first time since May 23‚ ending a 52-game hitting streak. In two of those games—July 22 and August 19—however‚ Lyons’s only hits were actually bases on balls‚ which are counted as hits this year. When Joe DiMaggio topped Willie Keeler’s mark off 44 straight games in 1941, no one thought to bring up Lyons.

1925: After a night on the town‚ Babe Ruth shows up late for batting practice. Miller Huggins suspends Ruth and slaps a $5‚000 fine on him. In the ensuing battle of wills, owner  Jacob Ruppert backs up his manager. Ruth is forced to apologize to the team before he is reinstated.Miller Huggins, Jacob Ruppert

1985: The Reds trade veteran Cesar Cedeno to the Cardinals for minor leaguer Mark Jackson. An MVP candidate at age 21, Cedeno’s star soon dimmed, but flared again for St. Louis in his 16th year in the majors. Cedeno helped the Cards to the NL East title by batting .434 in 28 games.

August 30

1905: Ty Cobb makes his American League debut‚ doubling off Jack Chesbro as Detroit defeats New York‚ 5-3.

1918: In the fastest NL game to this time, the Giants beat Brooklyn 1-0 in 57 minutes behind the pitching of Pol Perritt‚ scoring their lone run in the ninth. Veteran Jack Coombs takes the loss and after the game announces his retirement. The Giants will play a game against the Phillies next year on September 28 in just 51 minutes‚ a record that stands to this day. 

Bob Prince, Harold Arlin

Bob Prince, Harold Arlin

1972: In Pittsburgh‚ announcer Bob Prince turns the mike over to Harold Arlin. On August 5‚ 1921‚ Arlin was the first announcer to broadcast a live play-by-play game‚ on KDKA. Today he calls a few innings while his grandson‚ Steve‚ is on the mound for the Pirates against San Diego. For more, see: http://goo.gl/AFf7VF

August 31

1906: Beset by injuries‚ the Tigers call 46-year-old Sam Thompson out of retirement; he plays his old position of right field and bats cleanup, driving in two runs in a 5-1 win over the Browns. Thompson‚ who last played in the majors in 1898‚ appears in eight games for the Tabby Cats.

1950: Gil Hodges of the Brooklyn Dodgers hits four home runs and a single‚ driving in nine runs in the Dodgers 19-3 rout of the Boston Braves in Ebbets Field. Hodges’ 17 total bases are the most since 1894.

1990: Ken Griffeys—Jr. in center field and Sr. in left field—become the first father-and-son combination to play as teammates in the big leagues. Each goes 1-for-4 in Seattle’s 5-2 win over the Royals.

Masanori Murakami

Masanori Murakami

September 1

1872: Albert Thake‚ 22-year-old left fielder of the Brooklyn Atlantics‚ drowns off Fort Hamilton‚ in New York Harbor‚ while fishing. A benefit game is arranged by Bob Ferguson between the old Brooklyn Atlantics and members of the 1869 Cincinnati Red Stockings. Thake becomes the second man in professional league play to have died. Only Elmer White, cousin of Hall of Famer Deacon White, preceded him in death.

1964: Southpaw reliever Masanori Murakami becomes the first major-league player from Japan. He debuts in a 4-1 San Francisco loss at New York. His first 11 innings will be scoreless ones. For more, see: http://goo.gl/0RdYHF

1987: Williamsport (Eastern League) Bills catcher Dave Bresnahan introduces something new to baseball—the hidden-potato trick. With a Reading runner‚ Rick Rudblad‚ on third base‚ Bresnahan returns from a time out with a shaved potato hidden in his mitt. On the next pitch he throws the potato wildly on a pickoff attempt. When the runner trots home‚ Bresnahan tags him out with the real ball. The umpire‚ unamused‚ rules the runner safe‚ gives the catcher an error‚ and fines him $50. Tomorrow, the parent Indians release him. 

Nantasket Beach 1880

Nantasket Beach 1880

September 2

1880: The first night baseball game is attempted at Nantasket Beach‚ MA‚ between teams from two Boston department stores‚ Jordan Marsh and R. H. White. The Boston Post reports the next day that “A clear‚ pure‚ bright light was produced‚ very strong and yet very pleasant to the sight,” by the 12 carbon-arc electric lamps. The game ends in a 16-16 tie.

1972: Milt Pappas of the Cubs hurls a no-hit game in beating the Padres 8–0. Pappas has a perfect game until pinch hitter Larry Stahl walks with two outs in the ninth. Pappas later commented on the plate umpire Bruce Froemming, “He had a chance to become famous as the umpire in the twelfth perfect game in baseball history, but he blew it.”

2001: The Yankees defeat the Red Sox‚ 1-0‚ as Mike Mussina comes within a strike of hurling a perfect game. Pinch hitter Carl Everett’s two-out‚ two-strike single in the ninth inning ruins Mussina’s gem. It is the 3rd time in his career that the righty has taken a perfect game into at least the eighth inning.

September 3

1881: Veteran center fielder Lip Pike makes three errors in the final frame to give Boston two runs and a 3-2 victory over Worcester. The losing club immediately accuses Pike of throwing the game and suspends him.

1955: Sandy Koufax seems to have the hang of it, as he hurls his second consecutive shutout‚ topping the Pirates 4-0 on 5 hits. But five more years of control woes will hold him back until catcher Norm Sherry convinces him that he can throw a bit less hard and still be overpowering—with control.

1972: Steve Carlton shuts out the Braves 8-0 for his eighth whitewash of the season. This is the most for a Phillies’ pitcher since Grover C. Alexander in 1917. Carlton will go to win 27 games for the last-place Phils, who will win only 32 games all year that were not Carlton’s.


Re: Dave Bresnahan and his potato. Williamsport was a Cleveland farm club in 1987.

Thanks! Will fix.

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Very interesting, as always. I didn’t know that Steve Arlin was Harold Arlin’s grandson. The fact that night baseball was done as far back as 1880 makes you wonder why the majors waited over fifty years to try it.

Great John. Any insight as to why the 1889 New York Giants team was referred to as the Statesmen?

The Washington club was known as the Statesmen, among other nicknames. Clarke played for Washington, not New York.

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