Old News in Baseball, No. 19
Labor Day is upon us. Time to toss that straw hat onto the field, or put it away until next year. Gentlemen will cease to wear white. Pitchers will come to dominate the game once more, as they did before the summer heat set in. Opponents Sandy Koufax and Bob Hendley will combine to yield one hit. Rube Waddell will come back from the grave top Bob Feller’s seemingly new strikeout record. Bull Durham will pitch and win both ends of five consecutive doubleheaders. And Three Finger Brown and Christy Mathewson will square off one last time.
1916: To help draw a Labor Day crowd‚ and because of their longtime rivalry—25 games since 1903, almost evenly split—Christy Mathewson and Three Finger Brown agree to close out their careers in the same game. Matty‚ now the manager of the Reds‚ wins 10-8 as the Reds rack up 19 hits off Brown while the Cubs record 15 off Mathewson. Both pitchers stagger all the way to the end, registering complete games in their final big-league appearances. After several decades the significance of this game became apparent. The annals showed that when Mathewson retired he had accumulated 372 victories, a National League record. Grover Cleveland Alexander subsequently won 373, consigning Mathewson’s mark to second place. But a statistician later discovered that a May 1902 Mathewson 4-2 victory over Pittsburgh had been erroneously entered in the record books as a loss.
1935: Babe Ruth receives a lifetime pass for all National League games from NL president Ford Frick. His sad comment at the time: “It is nice to know that the National League has a heart.” Ruth, who had spent nearly his entire career in the American League, had to pay his way into ballgames in his longtime league until 1936, when both leagues combine to create a program of such passes for ten-year veterans.
1945: Long-time Yankee batting practice pitcher Paul Schreiber‚ 43‚ who last pitched in the big leagues in 1923, relieves for the Yanks in a Tiger rout, allowing no hits in 3-1/3 innings. The 22 years between major league appearances is a record.
1791: At a town meeting in Pittsfield‚ MA‚ a bylaw is passed making it illegal to play baseball and other sports within eighty yards of the town hall to prevent the breaking of windows. The existence of the bylaw was rediscovered in 2003 by yours truly, and its physical location was established in the following year by, among others, Jim Bouton. The bylaw reads as follows: “Be it ordained by the said Inhabitants that no person or Inhabitant of said Town‚ shall be permitted to play at any game called Wicket‚ Cricket‚ Baseball‚ Batball‚ Football‚ Cats‚ Fives or any other games played with Ball‚ within the Distance of eighty yards from said Meeting House – And every such Person who shall play at any of the said games or other games with Ball within the distance aforesaid‚ shall for every Instance thereof‚ forfeit the Sum of five shillings….” For more, see: http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2011/08/03/pittsfield/
1914: Pitching for Providence (IL) against the Maple Leafs in Toronto, 19-year-old Babe Ruth hurls a one-hitter and hits his only minor league home run‚ a three-run blast off Ellis Johnson. A plaque marks the site of the former ballpark at Hanlan’s Point.
1954: Joe Bauman of the Roswell Rockets (Class C Longhorn League) clouts his 70th‚ 71st‚ and 72nd homers‚ at this time a record in Organized Baseball (later topped by Barry Bonds). Bauman ends the season with a .400 batting average‚ a .916 slugging average, and 224 RBIs. For more, see: http://research.sabr.org/journals/joe-bauman-hit-72-home-runs
1953: The Chicago Cubs win a doubleheader from Cincinnati by scores of 7-6 and 7-2. In the first game, Cubs first baseman Dee Fondy hits one of his team’s four homers and then scores the game-winning run with a two-out, two-strike steal of home in the ninth inning.
1963: Baseball historian Lee Allen says the Indians-Senators game is the 100‚000th in ML history. Bennie Daniels celebrates by beating the Tribe 7-2. Until 1969, MLB and its encyclopedias recognized the National Association as its point of origin; but since 1969, MLB has recognized its onset as 1876, the year of the National League’s founding. Omitting the 1,086 National Association games meant that MLB celebrated its 200,000th game not in July 2011 but in September. For more, see: http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2011/09/24/mlbs-200000th-game/
1995: Cal Ripken plays in his 2‚131st consecutive game‚ breaking Lou Gehrig’s long-standing record. The record becomes official after the Angels are retired in the top of the fifth and play is stopped for 22 minutes as Ripken takes a lap around Camden Yards.
1916: At the Polo Grounds‚ the Giants Ferdie Schupp beats Brooklyn’s Nap Rucker‚ 4-1‚ to launch New York’s record 26-game winning streak. The Giants also had a 17-game winning streak in May. So how will they manage to finish in fourth place, seven games behind the pennant-winning Dodgers? You could look it up.
1993: Mark Whiten ties the major-league record for RBIs in a game with 12 in St. Louis’ 15-2 win over the Reds. Whiten hits a record-tying four homers, including a first inning grand slam. Before today‚ Whiten had not homered in four weeks.
1998: Mark McGwire hits his record-tying 61st home run of the year in the first inning off the Cubs’ Mike Morgan. Nine more will follow, as the great race between McGwire (70) and Sammy Sosa (66) results in both surpassing Roger Maris’s single-season record.
1897: Louisville unveils a new battery in catcher Ossee Schreckengost and 20-year-old Rube Waddell. Ossee goes 0-for-3 and Waddell loses his big-league debut to the first-place Orioles‚ 5-1. Rube and Ossee will reunite as roommates—when the practice was to bunk two players to the bed—as well as batterymates with the Philadelphia A’s. During one salary negotiation with Connie Mack, Schreckengost had a clause written into his contract that barred Waddell from eating crackers in bed.
1945: President Truman tosses out the first ball and then cheers the Senators to their fifth win in six games against the Browns. The second place Nats win 4-1 behind the 5-hit pitching of Pete Appleton‚ recently released by the Browns. It is his last win, but his career had seemed over once before, when as Pete Jablonowski he washed out of the majors in 1933, only to return three years later as Pete Appleton. As baseball’s original player to be named later, Appleton proved to be a better pitcher than Jablonowski.
1946: With the Red Sox running away with the AL race‚ attention focuses on Bob Feller’s strikeout total. In the nitecap of a twin bill, Feller tops the Browns‚ 3-2‚ on six hits and 8 strikeouts and reaches 300 today‚ a number reached by Walter Johnson and Rube Waddell twice each in the twentieth century. Can Feller beat Waddell’s 347 of 1904? As the season comes to an end, statisticians discover an error in the Aug. 24 box score that shorted Feller one strikeout against the A’s. Counting that one‚ Feller ends with 348, setting a new record … he thinks. Alas! Waddell’s old record of 347 was apparently based on the compilations of George Moreland‚ an early baseball historian‚ and listed in Little Red Book. TSN researchers led by my old friend Cliff Kachline later up Waddell’s total to 349—still the mark for AL lefthanders.
1858: The first game under “New York rules” is played in New England‚ on the Boston Common. The Tri-Mountain Club of Boston—formed by New Yorkers to play their version of the game—loses to the visiting club from Portland‚ Maine club‚ 47-42. “The Boston people, although obliged to accept defeat, were pleased with the new game. The evening was spent in jollification around the board at the Cummings House.” For more, see: http://ourgame.mlblogs.com/2012/07/06/early-baseball-in-boston/
1945: In his first start since his return from three years in the Canadian Army, The A’s Dick Fowler pitches a no-hitter against the St. Louis Browns‚ winning 1-0.
1965: When the Dodgers’ Lou Johnson draws a walk in the fifth inning from the Cubs’ Bob Hendley, he becomes the game’s first baserunner for either side. Following a sacrifice‚ Johnson steals third and scores on the catcher’s wild throw. Johnson later gets the game’s only hit‚ a seventh-inning single. Sandy Koufax throws his fourth no-hitter in four years, and this one is a perfect game. The one hit by two clubs is a record‚ as is the one runner left on base.
1881: In a game played in Albany as an alternative home site for the Haymakers of Troy, Roger Connor hits the first grand slam in major-league history. The blow‚ with his team three runs down with two outs in the ninth‚ comes off Worcester’s Lee Richmond; today we would term it a walk-off or ultimate grand slam.
1908: Louis “Bull” Durham of the Indianapolis Browns pitches and wins both ends of a doubleheader against the Toledo Mud Hens. This is the fifth time this season he has accomplished this feat. Durham enjoyed little success in the majors but became a darling of SABR as one of its “missing persons.” For more, see: http://research.sabr.org/journals/in-pursuit-of-bull-durham
1918: Before Game 5 of this year’s World Series—played in September because the regular season was shortened as part of the war effort—players on both sides threaten to strike unless they are guaranteed the World Series shares they were promised. The Red Sox and Cubs back off‚ however‚ when told they will appear greedy while their countrymen are fighting a war. On the field‚ the Cubs’ Hippo Vaughn blanks the Red Sox, who rebound to win Game 6 and the championship.